Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Too stressful, too early

Cubs 2, Astros 3 (10 inn.)

To me it just felt weird that the Cubs played an extra-inning game this early. It takes me a week or so to get adjusted to baseball again, whether its judging balls off the bat or whatever else. Extra-inning games kind of fall into that category, you just don't expect them this early, and when they happen it seems somewhat unnatural. 

One extra-frame aside, tonight's loss really shouldn't bring anyone down that much. Ryan Dempster's performance tonight was extremely encouraging. Every start he made last year erased a little more of the giant doubt and skepticism I had in my mind about him. This hasn't completely gone away yet, and it wasn't just because of his walk-a-thon in the playoffs. My mind simply can not wrap around Ryan Dempster as a great starter yet, despite the 2.96 ERA in 2008.

Like I said before, tonight was the kind of start (in both senses of the word) that Dempster needed: 6 innings, 2 earned runs, and 5 strikeouts. For the better part of the game, he was attacking the strike zone. I think it is safe to say that Demp won't hit the 17-6 2.96 mark he did last year, but if he can be somewhere around 15-7 3.40, that would be great. Tonight was a solid step in that general direction. 

Another bright spot was Angel Guzman, who didn't give up a run and recorded two strikeouts in his lone inning of relief. For all the Juan Cruz's the Cubs have had over the years, the baseball gods owe Cub fans one these pitchers to pan out and contribute. Seeing as Guzman was supposed to be a stud starter, I don't think wanting him to be a solid middle relief guy is asking too much. He certainly has the pitches. 

One thing that I am a little concerned about is that in 19 innings this season, the Cubs haven't scored multiple runs in an inning. I imagine that will change tomorrow, but it is worth noting. 

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