Jeff Samardzija Cruises to Victory: Cubs – 3, Pirates – 1

The Chicago Cubs started the 2013 season on a bang by beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1. The show was all about Jeff Samardzija…

Winning pitcher: Jeff Samardzija, Losing pitcher: AJ Burnett, Save: Kyuji Kujikawa

Scoring plays: 
Cubs 1st inning: Anthony Rizzo hits a 2-run homer to right-centerfield, driving home Starlin Castro – 2-0 Cubs.
Cubs 6th inning: Welington Castillo hits an rbi-double, driving home Nate Schierholtz – 3-0 Cubs.
Pirates 9th inning: Pedro Alvarez hits an rbi-single, driving home Andrew McCutchen – 3-1 Cubs.
Final: Cubs 3, Pirates 1.

The good: Since coming back from the WBC, Rizzo struggled in spring and had no home runs. The 1st pitch he seen of the 2013 season, Rizzo crushed the pitch hitting a 2-run homer. Castro continues to hit the ball, racking up 2 hits, going 2-4. Samardzija was excellent and the best you will ever see him. Samardzija went 8 innings, giving up 2 hits, 1 walk, 0 runs and struck out 9. The infield defense looked good today and will be the case all season long … Rizzo made a nice play at 1st and Castro make 2 nice plays up the hole at short, plus when the gold glover returns (Darwin Barney)… watch out!

The bad: The Cubs struck out a ton day (15 all together) … DeJesus (2), Castro (1), Rizzo (1), Soriano (2), Castillo (1), Valbuena (2), Lillibridge (3), Samardzija (2) and Cabrera (1). Some of the strike-3 calls were balls, but still counts as a strikeout. Lillibridge, of whom is taking Barney’s spot, struck out 3 times, made a error and was eventually replaced by Cabrera in the field.

The ugly: Carlos Marmol just can’t make outs anymore. Marmol was only able to  record one out (thanks to Gaby Sanchez’s bad eyes as he swung at ball 4.). Marmol hit a batter, walk a batter, gave up a hit, a run and was eventually taken out for James Russell.

Question of the day: When will Carlos Marmol be out as closer? Manager Dale Sveum said after the game Marmol is still his closer. I give it a month, if he does not improve. Fujikawa will be the closer at some point and he recorded his first save in the United States today.

Stat: Last Cubs starter to pitch 8 innings, giving up 0 runs on opening day was Bill Bonham back in 1974.

Note: Before the game, the Cubs placed Darwin Barney on the 15-day DL with a gash in his knee. Cabrera will take Barney’s spot on the roster. To make room for Cabrera on the 40-man roster, the Cubs designated pitcher Robert Whitenack for assignment.

Tomorrow the Cubs have a off day, but will be at action on Wednesday. Edwin Jackson will make his first start in Cubbie Blue. The Cubs start at 6:05 p.m. central time and will be aired on Comcast Sportsnet.

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