I thoroughly enjoyed reading numerous local bloggers as well as listening to phone-ins to sport talk shows to get a good feel for how much panic there can be after just 3 or 4 games into a Major League Baseball season.
Lest you’ve forgotten, an MLB season is 162 games long. So we’re talking about assessing your team based on 2% of a total season.
Giving up on your MLB team after 3.5 games… In NFL terms, this would be akin to giving up on your team’s season with 9 minutes and 16 seconds remaining in the 2nd quarter. (I did the math for you, but feel free to double check.)
Reading Chicago sports media, for example – by the way, this is never recommended – there was utter panic that the White Sox were 0-4 and Cubs were 1-2. Never mind that the ChiSox had faced the defending American League Champion Kansas City Royals in those first three games and the Cubs had split 2 games with the still powerful St. Louis Cardinals.
I don’t know what record the Cubs and White Sox will have after 162 games are done. If I boiled down the dozens of season previews I’ve read over, I’d say national prognosticators have both teams somewhere in the range of between 81 and 86 wins. But I sure as shit know that I can’t base my opinion of them on 3 or 4 games.
* * *
Let’s get to the weekend recap in the NL Central.
The Cincinnati Reds hosted the St. Louis Cardinals. Coming into the series, the Reds were 3-0, coming off of a surprising sweep of the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cards had split a rain-soaked Opening Series in Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs.
The Reds took the series opener, 5-4, behind a pair of Joey Votto homers and yet another stolen base by Billy Hamilton.
The Cards won game 2, 4-1, behind Michael Wacha’s 6.1 innings, allowing 1 earned run. Johnny Cueto took the loss to fall to 0-1 with a 0.64 ERA; he went 7 innings and allowed 1 run.
The Cards then took the rubber game of the series, winning 7-5 in 11 innings when Matt Carpenter connected for a 2-run homer in the top of the inning off of Kevin Gregg, who I still can’t believe has a job. Carlos Martinez did not get a decision, but threw nicely for the Red Birds, going 6 innings and striking out 8 while allowing 2 runs.
Carpenter is hitting .300, while Jhonny Peralta (.333), Matt Holliday (.300) and Kolten Wong (.294) are also off to nice starts.
Votto has a slash line of .333/.429/.708 with 3 HR and 8 RBI. So far, the comeback is going nicely. Hamilton had 7 stolen bases.
The Cubs took to Colorado to face the Rockies. After losing game one 5-1, their offense showed up big time in a 9-5 win to even the series. Dexter Fowler enjoyed his homecoming (more on that later) with a pair of triples. And the Baby Bears had their first homers of the season with Chris Coghlan, Mike Olt and Starlin Castro all doing a number. Castro had 3 hits, by the way. Olt took a pitch off the wrist later in the game, getting those Kris Bryant whispers revved up. Bryant also homered at AAA the night of this game. Olt’s x-rays were negative and he would actually pinch hit in game 3 of the series.
Speaking of which, the Cubs showed they aren’t the same pushover team of recent years, coming back to win 6-5 and take the series. Trailing 5-3 with a man on 2nd and 2 outs in the 9th, Wellington Castillo singled in a run and then Fowler took LaTroy Hawkins into the upper deck in right field for a go-ahead two-run homer. Hector Rondon stranded the tying runner at 3rd, picking up his 2nd save.
Fowler had a slash line of .308/.400/.846 in the 3-game series at Colorado.
Arismendy Alcantara has looked fluid when he’s played second base, but he’s 0-for-12 at the plate. On the bright side, his 5 walks give him a .294 OBP which, while not spectacular, helps make up for some of that. His OPS+ is currently negative 5, which I didn’t even think was possible. Castro is hitting .300, but no other Cubs’ regular is hitting over .250 and four are hitting below .200.
And in Milwaukee, the Brewers finally won a game, but it was the Bucs taking the series, 2 games to 1. So no NL Central swept or was swept over the weekend.
After Pittsburgh took game one, 6-2, Milwaukee came back to take game two, 6-0. Jimmy Nelson tossed 7 shutout innings, striking out 9 while allowing just 2 hits and 2 walks. Vance Worley went 6.1 innings and allowed 6 earned runs for the Pirates. Andrew McCutchen did not play.
The Pirates took the final game of the series, 10-2, behind McCutchen’s 2nd homer of the year. He had 4 RBI while Neil Walker had three, picking up his first homer of the season.
* * *
National League Ranks
Cincinnati: 6th in Runs Scored/Game, 10th in Runs Allowed/Game
St. Louis: 9th in Runs Scored/Game, 2nd in Runs Allowed/Game
Chicago: 8th in Runs Scored/Game, 6th in Runs Allowed/Game
Pittsburgh: 7th in Runs Scored/Game, 8th in Runs Allowed/Game
Milwaukee: 13th in Runs Scored/Game, 15th in Runs Allowed/Game
* * *
|6-0||Detroit||Sanchez, An (1-0, 0.00)|
|2-4||PITTSBURGH||Cole (0-0, 5.40)|
|12:35 PM CT|
|1-5||MILWAUKEE||Garza, M (0-1, 7.20)|
|3-2||ST. LOUIS||Wainwright (1-0, 0.00)|
|3:15 PM CT|
|4-2||CINCINNATI||Leake (0-0, 4.76)|
|3-2||CHICAGO||Lester (0-1, 6.23)|
|7:05 PM CT|
* * *