Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day of the Living Bats

Finally! A game that's not painful to watch! Roughing up a pitcher as highly regarded as Zack Greinke is always an encouraging sign (although it is distressing that a potential big-money free agent target next offseason got roughed up by an offense as lowly regarded as this one).

An 8-0 victory over a division rival is never unsatisfying, but this was particularly cathartic. The first six games of the season made it seem as though the "historically bad" campaign I mentioned in my last post was well on its way, and it's always good to be able to back off the ledge when it's only the first week of the season. It's easy to lose track of the fact that this would have been a tough stretch for any team. Facing the top three of a much-improved Nationals team and the reigning division champion in Milwaukee isn't exactly a walk in the park, and the Cubs put themselves in a position to win all but one of those games.

The starters, in particular, have shone more often than not. The bullpen's struggles in the first two games grabbed all the attention, which overshadowed the strong efforts from the front half of the rotation. Dempster and Garza have both duplicated that success in their second starts, and it looks as though the front end of the rotation should be able to keep the Cubs in games even when the bats aren't coming alive. And hey, Paul Maholm might have been even more impressive, managing to lower his ERA by 211.50 over the course of one game!

It seems like the success of the hitters has been directly correlated to how poorly the pitching has been doing (seriously - this is ridiculous), but as more games are played, you'll get more games like today where the team is firing on all cylinders. The schedule doesn't exactly get easier from here (lots of St. Louis and Cincinnati until May), but a little better luck going forward should put the Cubs closer to "league average" than "unmitigated disaster".

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