By Brady Stiff
Things started out well enough for the Cubs today in Atlanta. Marlon Byrd welcomed himself to the party with a three run homer off of Derek Lowe.
That was the end of it for the Cubs.
Zambrano started the bottom of the first by giving up a walk, then a couple of singles to load the bases with nobody out. He struck out Troy Glaus, giving himself a chance to get out of the inning unscathed.
But that wouldn’t happen, of course. Who are we kidding…this is the Cubs we’re talking about.
Yunel Escobar singled weakly up the middle, tying the game. Then came Jason Heyward.
If you haven’t heard of Jason Heyward, do your research quickly. He’s 1-for-1 in his career with a LONG home run to put the Braves up 6-3. That may be the first time a guy has gotten a curtain call after his first Major League at-bat.
The second inning wasn’t much better for Zambrano. After the Cubs went 1-2-3, Z promptly hit Martin Prado with a fastball up and in. He got Chipper Jones to ground out to Derrek Lee, but on the play, Zambrano, who was covering first, airmailed a throw to third trying to catch Prado advancing on the play. That allowed Prado to score as I think the ball went out of play.
Brian McCann homered with the bases empty, and that was it for Carlos today.
Since then, Sean Marshall has come in and looked pretty good, and Aramis Ramirez hit a 2-run homer to make it 8-5. This one is far from over.
Despite that, it was just an awful performance from Zambrano today. He looked like he was aiming and soft-tossing instead of throwing. He couldn’t get his sinker down, and that pretty much defeats the purpose of a sinker. Not only did he leave it up, he left a lot of them in the middle of the plate. It’s easy for Major League hitters when pitchers do that.
The final pitching line on Zambrano: 1.1 IP, 6 H, 8 R (all earned), 2 BB, 1 K, and 2 HR.
The important thing to remember here is, it’s only one day. Even though he pitched terribly, he didn’t put his emotions on display (at least from what they showed on TV). That’s something he was supposed to be working on, and kudos to him if he did keep them in check. It would have been easy to have a temper tantrum on the mound.
It’s better that he have an outing like this on the first day of the season than the first day of the playoffs (Not that I’m guaranteeing the Cubs will be there in October, but it’s a nice thought). I can certainly imagine the headlines in the paper tomorrow. I hope the Cubs’ columnists will have a level head when they take to their keyboards tonight to analyze this horrific outing.
Just keep telling yourself…It’s only one start. Besides, it should be easy to lower his new ERA of 54.00!