(And yes, I'm avoiding all the obvious Sean Marshall name puns for the title of this post.)
Glendon Rusch isn't the problem on this ballclub -- Michael Wuertz is.
Wuertz was brutally bad for the second time in his three appearances this year. Fortunately, the Cubs had built a six-run lead by the time Wuertz allowed two homers, oh, and also let another Sean Marshall baserunner score -- that makes three of Marshall's eight runs allowed so far this season directly attributable to Wuertz -- and so, there was a happy ending, an 11-6 win over the Pirates, who are indeed as bad a team as advertised. Props to Scott Williamson and Bob Howry for slamming the door after Wuertz.
Marshall picked up his first major league win, and also his first major league hit, a RBI single in the 2nd inning. The entire offense had a terrific night -- Todd Walker with four hits, Matt Murton a double and triple to nearly the identical spot in the opposite field, both coming within a couple of feet of being home runs, Derrek Lee with two hits, and Ronny Cedeno putting the exclamation point on the win with a two-run single in the ninth.
This is something you have to do against the bad teams, and the Pirates are, as I noted, a really, really bad team. All three insurance runs the Cubs scored in the 9th inning were unearned, the result of Joe Randa throwing what should have been an easy double-play ball somewhere in the direction of right field.
More on Marshall: he exhibited again, a lot of the poise and mound presence I saw from him in spring training and again on Sunday night against the Cardinals. He threw a fairly efficient 79 pitches in his five-plus innings, threw strikes (51 of 79 pitches) and walked only one.
At this point I think I'd probably send Wuertz back to Iowa and put Rusch in that bullpen slot and bring up Angel Guzman to start, if necessary. Or, maybe just hang on for two more weeks till Kerry Wood's possible return on April 30 and then send Wuertz down to make room for Wood on the roster.
Bob Brenly decided to play "Master Of The Obvious" last night, going on and on and on about why Ryan Dempster was in the game in the 9th inning, despite it being a non-save situation. It was clear to anyone watching, that Dempster had been warming up with the two-run lead, which would have been a save situation, and was going to come into the game anyway. Since Williamson and Howry had already appeared, the only other choices would have been Scott Eyre and Will Ohman, who have been getting a lot of work lately. Better to save them for today.
For more on last night's game, I commend you to this diary by Chris, who was at the game at PNC Park.
Cub home attendance note: through six dates the total attendance (actually, tickets sold) is 235,731, which is an average of 39,288. That ranks fifth in the majors, behind the Yankees, Dodgers, Angels and Cardinals, and is 99.3% of capacity, according to ESPN.com. The 99.3% figure is wrong -- that'd make capacity 39,564, which doesn't take into account the bleacher expansion. The real new capacity, as I researched in February, is somewhere around 41,240, or, according to the Cubs' website, 41,118.
Finally, the Yahoo boxscore has mysteriously eliminated Dempster from the game entirely, although it does have all the other final stats correct.