Braves 4, Cubs 1: No Offense (Really)

Mike Zarrilli

The Cubs couldn't hit Mike Minor Friday night. You shouldn't be too surprised at this. (Give Minor at least minor credit.)

I'm afraid we're going to see a lot of games like this in 2013, although, to be fair, the Cubs started two players in Friday night's 4-1 loss to the Braves who shouldn't be doing that on an everyday basis (Brent Lillibridge and Alberto Gonzalez).

On the other hand, the Braves scored 16 runs in their first two games against the Phillies before Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon shut them out Thursday. So giving the Braves "only" four runs might be viewed in that context as a small triumph. Unfortunately, that doesn't count as an actual triumph, and the Cubs fell again to the .500 mark at 2-2. Interestingly, just four games into the 2013 season, there are no longer any undefeated nor winless teams. I don't have specific numbers, but that seems early for all 30 teams to get rid of the "0" under "W" or "L".

The Cubs might not have a great offensive juggernaut this year, but I guarantee you they will not hit .133/.188/.233 (25 OPS+) as a team. No team is that bad. Welington Castillo is the only Cubs hitter with even a halfway decent line so far; he's 3-for-9. You know Anthony Rizzo isn't going to hit .083 all year (his only hit in four games is his Opening Day home run); you know Starlin Castro is better than .188 with no walks or extra-base hits. This team will score some runs... eventually.

Scott Feldman looked like he might creak through five innings with just two runs allowed, but he had a rough fifth inning after Scott Hairston's home run had brought the Cubs to within 2-1. Feldman threw 102 pitches and only a little over half of them (53) were strikes. This kept up Feldman's spring-training pattern, which I hope does not last the rest of the season.

Give credit where credit is due: Mike Minor is a pretty good pitcher, and he had the Cubs off-balance all night, striking out seven. Hairston's home run was an odd little thing, a line drive that looked like it barely got 20 feet off the ground before landing in the seats. And once the vaunted Atlanta bullpen was in the game, these Cubs hitters really had no chance -- but that's the same for a lot of teams facing Eric O'Flaherty and Craig Kimbrel. A little credit to the Cubs pen; Michael Bowden and Hector Rondon threw 3⅓ innings, allowing just one hit and striking out five, keeping the game relatively close.

Fashion statement: Why do the Braves keep wearing those red alternate jerseys? They look awful.

The Cubs will try to even the series Saturday evening, when they will face Julio Teheran, someone they've never seen before. You know what happens when a Cubs team faces a pitcher like that. This Cubs team will hit... eventually.

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