Cubs Debut New Look, Same Ugly Results At Plate on Opening Day

Cubs Debut New Look, Same Ugly Results At Plate on Opening Day

The Cubs may have changed their threads for Monday’s opener, yet something looked very familiar and ugly.

While the Cubs unveiled some new alternate uniforms for Opening Day, they managed to look like the same sorry bunch trying to hit with men in scoring position.

Back to the uniforms later, let’s talk about the unsightliness at the plate. The Cubs managed to blow multiple scoring chances against Pirates starter Francisco Liriano. They let Liriano off the hook after putting the leadoff man on base five different times. They also stranded a man on second with no outs on three separate occasions.

The Cubs had Liriano in trouble at times, yet he managed to still punch out 10 Cubs, making cleanup hitter Anthony Rizzo look overmatched (0-for-4) in the process.

Rizzo had made some encouraging strides against southpaws this spring in Arizona. Today however, Rizzo came up empty with men in scoring position, picking up where he left off last season. Rizzo told Mark Gonzalez he will try and turn the page.

"I had three opportunities to drive in a run,'' Rizzo said after striking out twice and hitting a feeble pop to third with a runner at second. It's Game 1 of 162. You learn from it and move on."

Hitting with RISP is a department in which the Cubs have struggled mightily, both in recent years and what seems to be my entire Cubs viewing history.

I don’t care much for Rizzo in the cleanup spot (IMO ultimately more of 5-7), especially against a lefty, yet Renteria does not have many other options at this time. Mike Olt is but a rookie, yet he may be forced to hit there against tough lefties at least.

On a side note, I did hear Rizzo has been told by the club to concentrate more on driving in runners and less on hitting for power. That likely translates to bearing down in RISP situations, and taking the ball back up the middle or the other way if need be. You could say much like the Cardinals approach in those situations, or that Cardinals "magic", as my friend Sahadev would claim.

Meanhwile, Emilio Bonifacio got the somewhat surprise start as the Cubs leadoff man and centerfielder today. Somehow I think Rick Renteria may find a way to keep him atop the lineup if the super sub continues to set the table the way he did today. Bonifacio did not exactly tear the cover off the ball, yet all he did was go 4-for-5 with a double, along with a stolen base.

On the mound, everyone’s favorite temporary Cub, Jeff Samardzija, was uncharacteristically efficient. He threw only 89 pitches in seven shutout innings. If Samardzija wants to pitch this way for the rest of the year, the Cubs cannot lose, at least big picture-wise. At the plate, Samardzija failed miserably to help his cause by laying down an awful bunt which led to another rally-killing double play.

Otherwise, Starlin Castro looked quite sharp in the field, Wellington Castillo took one to the nuts, and Renteria bunted A LOT. Neil Walker (new age Cub-killer) hit a walk-off in the 10th to win the game.

What more can we say?

Oh, the uniforms, I will have more on that in a separate post.  Meanwhile, I think this effectively sums up my thoughts.

Not exactly a visually appealing day.


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  • fb_avatar

    Am I making this up or were they 0-14 w/ RISP this afternoon? SSDD.

  • In reply to Evan Altman:

    Sounds accurate.

  • "What more can we say?"

    As I noted elsewhere, how many throws were in the rundown that eventually got Bonifacio? In otherwise a shutout until the 10th, that certainly shows Cubs luck.

    Were the uniforms some sort of 19th Century turn back the clock? At least they didn't say Cuba.

  • In reply to jack:

    Those Cuba things were the worst.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Other than being blue on red, I didn't see the difference between them and the Cubs script ones.

  • In reply to jack:

    Pretty much.

  • fb_avatar

    How awesome would it be if they brought back those Cuba jerseys and had Starlin model them? Then again, that might hurt in terms of getting future defectors.

  • Tom, that was my perception as well. It's painful to watch Cub batters look lost at the plate with risp. I don't get why they continue to be so overmatched.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Here is hoping Baez and Bryant have more of a knack for it. I believe they will.

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