Monday, June 22, 2009

A minor speed bump? Let's hope so

After a brief break, the Cub offense we all got so tired of watching showed up again tonight in Atlanta. Of course all the key components were there, especially the double play and lack of clutch of hits. I felt that Kosuke's double play grounder in the first really let Vazquez off the hook and sapped some life out of the Cubs, who probably would have put at least one run up in the first frame if not for that. Flyouts by Derrek Lee in the 7th and Andres Blanco in the 6th with two outs and men in scoring position really hurt as well.

Despite all this, however, I am not all too worried after tonight's game. The mere oddity of the one game trip to Atlanta offers in part some explanation. Even though all 10 hits tonight were singles, ten hits are ten hits. This is a marked improvement over some of the previous losses where the offense has struggled, for example: 4-1 loss to the Sox - 5 hits, 2-0 loss to the Twins - 5 hits, and 2-1 loss to the Astros - 6 hits (and that game went 13 innings!).

Dempster was great tonight; I've been saying all season that if he just keeps putting up quality starts on a consistent basis then he is doing his part. He had a career year last year, so I really hope people aren't putting too high of expectations on him. Tonight he was beat by the right people.

I assumed that the numbers would indicate Nate McLouth has absolutely bashed the Cubs since last year, but they don't really. He put up decent numbers last year (.284-2-11), but they weren't near what I expected. Maybe I have this impression because he has had some hits in big spots. Last year I remember an 8th inning home run off Carlos Marol in May that negated a huge game from Soriano. He also had a big home run in the 10-8 loss to the Pirates at the tail end of the big losing streak.

Regardless, McLouth really hurt the Cubs tonight with an RBI single and a double that led to the Braves second run. Giving up a sac fly on a smash to center by Chipper Jones is nothing to be ashamed of either. You also have to appreciate the simplistic yet very smart approach by one of the best managers in the game Bobby Cox to the 8th and 9th innings. He put lefty closer Mike Gonzalez (geez that rocking motion is annoying) in for the 8th because Micah and Fontenot were due up. Little things like that are a reason why the Braves had such a long, unmatched string of success (maybe Smoltz, Maddux, Glavine played a role...just maybe).

Anyways, the Cubs head off to Detroit tomorrow in what should be a great pitching matchup. Z has been great lately and will hopefully get some run support for the first time in awhile. Edwin Jackson is quitely putting up a great year so far with a sparkling 2.39 ERA. Oh yeah, we get to see Miguel Cabrera which brings back such warm memories. Go Cubs.

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