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Braves 3, Cubs 1: Once again, trying to find some good in defeat

The Cubs are still doing some things well.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Cubs lost to the Braves 3-1 in the series opener Tuesday night in Atlanta, but I, the eternal optimist, am going to try to find some positive things to say about our favorite baseball team despite the defeat.

First, Marcus Stroman threw very well. It was only the second quality start for the Cubs this season (the first, Kyle Hendricks last Saturday against the Pirates), and the first time any starter besides Hendricks had thrown in the sixth inning this year. True, you’d like to see more ground balls from Stroman, as that’s his game, and the Braves began hitting him pretty hard toward the end of his 86-pitch outing. Overall, though, two earned runs in six innings with no walks is solid. Here are Stroman’s three strikeouts on the night [VIDEO].

Second, Ethan Roberts had a very good relief outing, striking out all three batters he faced. Look at these nasty sliders!

Roberts is likely going to be a casualty of rosters being cut to 26 next week and head back to Triple-A Iowa. But he clearly has talent and he’ll be back.

Third: Michael Rucker, who also might head back to Iowa next week, had a 1-2-3 inning as well. Overall, since the Cubs allowed eight runs to the Rays last Wednesday, they have allowed 15 runs in the five games since. That’s good! What isn’t good is that apart from the 21-run outburst Saturday afternoon, in the five other games since last Tuesday the Cubs have posted the following run totals: 2, 3, 2, 3 and 1. That’s not going to cut it.

The Cubs had just four hits off Max Fried and three Atlanta relievers and had only three baserunners after the fourth inning.

Here, have a highlight. In that fourth inning, Ian Happ led off with a home run [VIDEO].

At the time, that tied the game 1-1.

More good things from this loss: Michael Hermosillo also made two outstanding catches in this game.

First, to end the fifth inning [VIDEO].

Next, for the second out in the sixth [VIDEO].

Unfortunately, Hermosillo also made an error that resulted in a Braves run [VIDEO].

The Cubs dropped to 7-10 with this loss. Think for a moment about that, and then think about the White Sox (yes, bear with me), who lost their eighth in a row Tuesday night and are now 6-10. I say this not to disparage the Sox, who have had injury issues, but simply to point out that it is early in the season and lots of things don’t go the way you might think. I continue to believe this Cubs team is about a .500 ballclub and they will play better than they have lately, having lost eight of their last 11.

SITE NOTE: As noted in OTC this morning, Josh was under the weather yesterday and unable to post the usual Minor League Wrap, so I’m going to at least post the scores and boxscore links from the Cubs system last night here for you:

Iowa lost to Indianapolis 4-0

Tennessee defeated Chattanooga 5-4

South Bend beat Quad Cities 8-2

Myrtle Beach was rained out. They’ll play two seven-inning games today.

The MLB Cubs are also in action today, in the second of the three-game series at Atlanta. Mark Leiter Jr. will start for the Cubs and Charlie Morton gets the call for the Braves. Game time is again 6:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.