In all the rational exuberance of yesterday's awesome victory by the Braves over the Cubs, one thing stood out as a harbinger of trouble for the team. We've all heard by now how the Braves chased Carlos Zambrano in the second inning, but his replacement, Sean Marshall, restored order quite well for the next three innings. I was actually surprised that Piniella took him out.
Normally I would say that Marshall's performance was just a case of him being on his game, he did strike out five of the eight batters he faced, but the guy that replaced Marshall for the Cubs was another lefty, James Russell. He shutout the Braves on just two hits through the next two innings.
Then came more right-handers, Jeff Samardzija and Justin Berg, and the flood gates re-opened for the Braves, as they doubled their run total with those two pitchers in the game. With Berg unable to get out of the eighth inning, the last lefty in the Cubs bullpen, John Grabow, came on to restore order and retire the last two batters. We could hit the right-handers, but not the left-handers, and while it's only one game, the differences are night and day:
Maybe it was just that the three lefties were on their game and the three righties weren't, or maybe this is a deeper problem with the Braves lineup. It really wasn't a problem for them last year, though it certainly seemed like sometimes they could be absolutely shut down by a left-hander. This was part of why I thought they were so eager to go out and get a right-handed power bat like Troy Glaus -- to combat those pesky lefties.
Luckily we face right-handed starters for the remainder of the series. We just have to hope that Piniella is not smart enough to bring in those lefties from the bullpen.