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Zambrano Delivers – Not in a Good Way

By: Ray Joselane

There are many places to find good Italian food in Chicago, but none better than what Carlos Zambrano delivered to Atlanta on opening day Monday afternoon. Zambrano was serving up meatballs early and only managed 1.1 innings of work, giving up 8 runs on 6 hits (2 homeruns) and 3 free passes. This was the Cubs worst opening day loss since 1884 when they lost to the New York Giants by a score of 15-3.

Big Z’s opening day performance is nothing new, as he is 1-2 with a 6.99 ERA in his career when pitching the first game of the season. Zambrano was not the only pitcher who had a rough start to the year.

Jeff Samardzija gave up 6 in just 1/3 of an inning. It was not a good sign to see Samardzija struggling with his command, walking the first 3 batters he faced. I discussed his accuracy problems in my season overview and if he isn’t able to find the zone it’s going to be a long season. We need Samardzija to be a strong option in order for our bullpen to be successful.

There were some good things to come out of this horrible game. Sean Marshall was needed early and he came through in a big way. His 2.2 innings of hitless ball was a great sign. Not only did he not allow a single base runner, but he struck out 5 which is not exactly what you expect out of him.

James Russel also came in and pitched 2 scoreless innings. He looked pretty good considering it was the first game of his career. It’s nothing to get too excited about, but he certainly started the year off on the right foot.

Offensively, the Cubs were able to muster up 5 hits but were able to turn that into 5 runs. Aramis Ramirez hit a 2-run blast which was great to see after watching him go the entire spring without hitting a homerun.

Marlon Byrd’s 1st inning 3-run homer was the other bright spot for the Cubs. He also hit a shot to left center that was ruled a catch even though the ball rolled about 5 feet before finally being picked back up by Nate McClouth after it fell out of his glove. Aramis was doubled up on that play and ended what could’ve been a huge inning for the Cubs, who at the time were only down 3. So instead of being down 8-5 with nobody out and runners on 1st and 2nd, they ended up with 2 out and nobody on. Not to say it would have changed the outcome of the game, but if the right call was made who knows what would have happened.

All in all, it was a rough start to the year for the Cubs. It’s a long season and for now it was just one bad game. Let’s hope Dempster can come out Wednesday and get the Cubs back on the right track.


  1. You don't want to make many conclusions at this point in the season but man no more Zambrano to start the year. He just gets to amped up,anxious or whatever to start the year. I understand he has earned the right to start the year but come on. You are right on Samardzija we need him this year, hopefully he can find some command because that was so brutal you can loose faith in a guy pretty quick no matter how early in the year.
    Oh well one game, I bet the second one goes a little better than the first at least.

  2. You sure called this one Ray. And hopefully you are correct that we have a lot to look forward too besides meatballs. I am pretty full.

    Let's go Chicago Cubs!

  3. Alrighty Ray J...seems like we're on the same page (pun intended).

    First, Cubs are always cold in April. I'd rather have them cold in April than cold in October, but obviously they haven't proven themselves in that month since 2003. Not to say that I blame the cold weather cause they actually had some good weather in HOTLANTA to start the season.

    Secondly, I am quite nervous about our bullpen. We've got nearly no proven arms to rely upon...except maybe Marshall. He could be the most professional guy in our bullpen. As for Marmol, the kid needs to get his stuff under control. He's got raw talent and some of the best stuff in the majors...when he's on. When he's off, he looks worse than Ozzy Osbourne throwing out the 1st pitch back in '08. I just read today that Tom Ricketts said that there's room for Hendry to add another player if need be. Mr. Hendry, please don't pick up another offensive bat. Snag a veteran RP that can shut down late inning rallies by Pujols, Fielder and the like.

    Lastly, Rudy Jaramillo needs to have a word with the some of the power guys on our team. We've got a surplus of guys who can swing for the fence, but no one on base to be driven in when they do go yard. I've been saying it since they signed the Fonz...Cubs won't win a world series until they learn to play small ball and be quick/efficient on the bases. The Dodgers beat us in 2008 with this style of play. Arizona's pitching silenced our big bats in 2007 and if we would've been more patient at the plate, we could have maybe taken 1 game playing small ball. This "Swing for the Fences" novel, by Lou Piniella wasn't worth reading in 2007 and wont be a best seller in 2010 either.