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My first RED FLAG of the season comes a whole two weeks before it did in 2010.
When the Cubs lost a home series against god-awful Pittsburgh last May, my internal alarm bell rang loud & clear signaling serious trouble on the North Side.
Chicago had dropped its fifth consecutive game against the Buccos, failed to close the gap against a struggling Cardinals team, and fell to seven games below .500.
At the time, it was still too early to write-off the Cubs’ season, but the red flag had been raised–the Cubs were going nowhere.
Flash forward to Tuesday night’s game against Colorado. On the heels of its most pathetic game of the season–four errors, four unearned runs in a 5-3 loss–the Cubs responded with another dreadful outing.
The Cubs’ .500 spell is over, but the outcome is what hurts–an ugly 5-3 loss against Colorado dropping Chicago to (10-12).
A good outing by Garza is wasted by four errors.
Castro had three, Garza the other.
Defense is still a serious issue for this club.
Cubs out-hit Rockies 11-4, but go 0-for-10 w/ RISP.
Baker 3-for-4…Pena 0-for-4–again.
Congrats to Barney on his 1st career HR!
Congrats to Fukudome for a career-high five hits!
Samardzija’s scoreless streak is now nine innings!
Will it ever stop raining at Wrigley?
Currently batting .526 on the homestand.
Is hitting .444 from the leadoff spot.
Drawn a walk in nine of 14 games played.
Has just five strikeouts in 52 plate appearances.
It’s not Starlin Castro!
Name that Cub!
Will the real Ryan Dempster please stand up.
Where has our ace pitcher gone? What’s happened since his terrific spring? Is there something wrong with Demps?
Only Ryan knows if he’s healthy, of course, but I figure he’s wondering the same things we are about his first five starts this season.
Dempster entered Saturday’s game riding a four-game winning streak against L.A…a run in which he’s gone (4-0) with a 1.05 ERA…surrendering just one unearned run in his last three starts vs. the Dodgers.
But Saturday he gets blown up for seven runs on nine hits in 5.2 innings. That, unfortunately, has been the norm in 2011–five starts, one win and a 7.63 ERA.
-Dempster has allowed no less than four earned runs in each start.
-His other outings included earned runs of 5, 6 & 7.
-He’s lasted seven innings just once.
-In six spring starts he allowed more than 2 earned runs just once.
Obviously, Dempster’s ugly start is bad, bad news for our Cubbies. No Wells, no Cashner…no Dempster? No chance.
You can’t fault James Russell for his brutal starts.
He’s simply doing what he shouldn’t have to…making the tough transitioning from the bullpen to the rotation–mid-season.
I give the kid all the credit in the world for stepping up to the challenge. Despite the awful outcomes through two starts–8 ER in 5.2 IP–he’s handled the situation with poise…handled the situation like a true pro. That, in its self, is a credit to his character.
After working his butt off last year to make the Cubs’ bullpen, he then worked his tail off again this spring to come back as a reliever. Now, by necessity, he’s pitching where he doesn’t belong–in the rotation.
The man he’s replacing, Andrew Cashner, is weeks away from a return (if there is one) from shoulder problems. Russell isn’t, and shouldn’t be, the long-term answer.
Putting this kid through another start isn’t fair to him or the Cubs. Quade may have limited options, dare I say Samardzija, but there needs to be a better fix.
The last thing Russell needs is a confidence problem, and running him out to the mound every fifth day is sure to take its toll on him mentally. Russell belongs in the pen, and that’s not his problem. That, my friends, is one for Jim Hendry to figure out–and fast.
The importance of Reed Johnson’s walk-off job in Game 1 of Wednesday’s DH goes without saying.
His game-winning blast pushed the Cubs above .500, assured a series win against the Padres and placed the Cubs atop the NL Central–albeit short lived following the Game 2 loss. (However, the Cubs are still in a four-way tie for first in the Central).
But also of significance is the shot of confidence the hit provided Johnson, who’s struggled offensively coming off the bench.
Hitting a messily .182 before his pinch-hit bomb in the 11th inning, Reed followed that up going 3-for-4 with a double and RBI in Game 2.
All totaled, Johnson went 4-for-5 on the day…raising his average to .355.
With Reed showing a hot hand, it will be interesting to see if Quade stays with him in the short-term as a starter. Tyler Colvin, after all, is hitting .136.
Regardless, we know Reed’s calling card is his glove, not his bat. But I’m happy to see ‘White Slice’ back with the Cubs, and contributing on both sides of the plate.