Cubs Recap: Samardzija struggles but LaHair slam,Stewart 3 run shot provide support

After a rain delay and some sort of World Series ceremony, the game started late.  So did Adam Wainright.  And the Cubs took advantage by getting off to a 9-0 lead before barely hanging on to win 9-5.

  • Despite starting with 4 scoreless innings, Jeff Samardzija really struggled today.  I was hoping he'd settle down but he was hanging sliders and didn't have control of the change-up that made him so effective his last time out.  The fastball was there, peaking at 97 mph, but once Samardzija started getting tired, the Cardinals started teeing off.  A 5 run 5th cut the lead to 9-5.
  • Rafael Dolis came in and pitched 2 scoreless innings.  He threw strikes but didn't strike anybody out and needed a couple of diving catches, one by DeJesus and another by Soriano to keep him out of trouble.  For the most part, he did keep the ball down, though, and it was a solid outing with just 1 hit and no walks over 2 innings.
  • James Russell and Kerry Wood combined to hold the Cardinals down in the 8th inning.
  • Carlos Marmol came in to pitch the 9th and closed the game on a 1-2-3 inning with 2 strikeouts.  That is not a typo.  That's a 1-2-3 inning.  He showed flashes of his good slider and used it effectively to get a couple of back door strikes.
  • David DeJesus played a nice game apart from the catch.  He had a hit and a walk, but also did one of those smart veteran things that often go unnoticed.  After Samardzija struggled the inning before, Marlon Byrd made an out on the first pitch, and then Samardzija had to run out a slow grounder.  DeJesus worked the count, took some pitches and put up a 7 pitch AB to give Shark a breather.
  • Ian Stewart hit a 3-run HR to put the Cubs up 4-0.  He also drew a pair of walks and scored a couple of runs.  So far he looks like a real nice acquisition.  For one thing, I'm grateful I don't have to hold my breath every time the ball is hit to 3rd.
  • Alfonso Soriano made a diving catch and had an RBI single to the right side for the second straight day.  Who is this guy?
  • Bryan LaHair hit a grand slam that barely cleared the wall (and Matt Holiday's glove) to put the Cubs up 8-0.
  • Starlin Castro had 3 hits and a walk with an RBI and 2 runs scored.  He also stole his league leading (for now) 6th base.


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    Beating the Cardinals is so sweet. The only thing better would be to beat them in the NLCS 4 games to 0.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Home opener, WS ring ceremony...and then we put the game out of reach by the 3rd inning. Total buzz kill for Cards fans. It's not much, but when you're a Cubs fan, you take it.

  • Dude, "barely hanging on for a win"??? Winning by 4 is not barely hanging on. Give them credit for a big win.

  • In reply to johnbres2:

    I was being sarcastic/exaggerating, maybe should have put quotes around the barely. At any rate, it's a win. I don't know if it's a big one. Always nice to beat the Cards

  • It's nice to take game 1 against the jorts wearers. This is a series I really want. That rat's nest on the Mississippi would have been dark last October if not for the Cubs. They need to pay.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Hope we take them all but will settle for 2 out of 3. I like Volstad tomorrow but Maholm worries me.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't like Volstad at all. I was at his first start, and let me tell you he looked awful. Pitched way worse than his final line.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    He kept the ball up too much in that start. He doesn't have the velocity or stuff to get away with that. I think he'll rebound.

  • In reply to Eddie:

    Also forgot to mention the mullets.

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    Think the long rain delay had anything to do with the ineffectiveness of the starters today? Or was it Soto and his awful pitch calling and inability to frame anything? Clevenger should have been in here today. He could get the most out of shark even if his off speed pitches were off. Soto is only good when the pitcher has good stuff that day.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    It was said that Wainright had to cut his warm up time, so I think it really affected him. Probably Shark too, he had nothing except his fastball, but that was good enough to get him through the order once.

  • I thought Maholm looked every bit as bad as his line indicated the other night. Everything he threw was up. To me , he seems like he might be hurt. He was throwing off his front foot with a very short leg extension towards the plate- which left the ball up and made it look like he's favoring that shoulder.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Nice observations. I'll have to look for that the next time he's out there. Travis Wood is ready to fill in.

  • What happen to Mather?

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Something happened to Mather?

  • Argl, and I had LaHair on the bench in my fantasy league.

    Speaking of which, are you still gonna do an article on the site's fantasy leagues occasionally? This is my first year doing it and I've caught a bit of the fever. (But not the vapors. That would be wrong.)

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I was thinking about doing it on Sundays or Mondays. Haven't decided yet. Probably Monday, since it's often an off day. First one is coming up.

  • In reply to John Arguello:


  • How did Marmol get a save if we had a 4 run lead? I thought it had to be 3 runs or fewer to be a save situation?

  • In reply to HawkeyeCub:

    After his struggles maybe they gave him a break?

    In all honesty, just an oversight on my part. No save.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Fixed now...

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Sorry John, not trying to bust your b@lls about it. You know a heck of a lot more about baseball than me, as routinely evidenced by your blog posts, so I just thought I was confused about my rules.

  • In reply to HawkeyeCub:

    It's all good. I don't mind when people catch errors/typos and let me know. Readers here are good at doing it politely. For some reason I kept thinking the score was 9-6!

  • In reply to HawkeyeCub:

    I think a pitcher can get a save with a four run lead as long as the tying run is at least on deck when he enters the game. So basically if there are 2 or 3 men on.

  • Great ballgame today for the boys. I am going to the game Sunday with my son(he's a Cardinal fan, I don't k now where I went wrong), look for me, were in the 14th row, I will have my Cub gear on. Be nice if we could go for the sweep. Except the Card fans will be nasty then. They don't mind when we are no good, but like back in 08, they get ugly if they are getting whupped.
    I tried to tell my St. Louis fan friends that Wainwright had an 18 month injury, fastball is at 89 and his trademark curve is a lollipop. There great starting staff is looking a bit shaky.
    Feeling good about the direction of the Cubs, and I love the skipper. Great coaches find a way to get the players to do things the right way, without completely ticking them off daily. That is Sveum.
    Question, do you guys feel like the Cubs have been asking their fans to be patient for a rebuilding every year? This is what the St. Louis announcers were saying on tv today.
    I mean this team won the division in 07 and 08, had the most wins in the league 3 years ago. That was not rebuilding. Heck, since 06 the Cubs have won more divison titles than the Cardinals. Thought it was strange comments.

  • wife is a Sox fan. It's her only flaw ;)

    I'll defintely keep an eye out for you, though I'll have to DVR it, going to a wedding that day.

    I think the St.Louis announcers are nuts. Cubs were trying to win all the way up until last year. They traded 4 prospects for Garza, spent 10M on Pena...that's not rebuilding. That's a win now strategy.

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    I don't know who lit a fire under Soriano, but he does not look like the same guy we've seen marched out there the last 2 years. I've only noticed one "loaf" on a play thus far. He seems happy and confident. So nice to see something different.

    I also facebooked all my Cardinal fans "a happy opening day." Hope to see more of that!

  • In reply to Hal McCarty:

    Sori is playing with renewed focus. Apart from his improved defense, he's gotten his last 3 RBI by going the opposite way.

    Hope to see us take at least 2 out of 3, if not sweep. Volstad on the mound, got to keep the ball down better this time.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Someplace else (the Trib? ESPNChicago?) mentioned how Soriano's appreciates the fact that he's in the 4 hole this year. I could see that as being part of the reason for his production. He certainly seems like a good-character guy but I could see him as someone who's emotionally affected by others' faith in him. Not so much where he would selfishly pout from a drop in the batting order, but more like losing confidence a little bit. I'm guessing his confidence is up from the trust that Sveum is showing him.

  • In reply to mosconml:

    He's always thought of things like place in the batting order as a measure of respect. I think he's a good guy but a little sensitive and takes things personally. Not a bad person, but a bit of a diva.

    Moving him up in the order was a good move. It's a little thing but it means a lot to someone like Soriano. It just seems that this staff is better at managing people.

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