We'll catch our breath, sort of, for one day before heading out to the park bright and early Saturday for a 12:05 p.m. Cubs-Nationals game at Wrigley Field. Should be a good pitching matchup between the Cubs' Matt Garza and the Nats' Gio Gonzalez. We'll have some stuff for Saturday's paper (and online later today) about defense and some of Cubs president Theo Epstein's thoughts about defense and some of the modern metrics.
One of the favored features of blogs in years past was our minor-league report. When we'd do a whole blog on the minors, I'd call it the "Farm and Fleita Minor-League Report," in honor of Cubs farm boss Oneri Fleita. With Jason McLeod and Oneri both having system responsibilities, we may have to amend the title a little.
This year, we'll also keep track of Cubs quality starts. That's when a starter goes at least 6 innings and gives up 3 or fewer runs. Again, as TV announcer Len Kasper and I like to caution, the 6 and 3 are only the minimum requirements (that's a 4.50 ERA). Most quality starts are better than that, and when teams get quality starts, they win way more often than not.
Thursday, for example, the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg turned in a quality start, going 7 innings and giving up 1 earned run. That's good for a first-start ERA of 1.29. The Nats won the game 2-1.
Cubs starter Ryan Dempster also turned in a quality start, working 7.2 innings and giving up 1 earned run. That's good for an ERA of 1.17. Since somebody had to lose, it was the Cubs this time. Usually when a team loses a quality-start game, it's because of a lack of hitting or a blown bullpen lead. The latter was the case Thursday, with Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol kicking away a 1-0 lead.
Randy Wells got the Class AAA Iowa Cubs off to a winning start in a 5-3 victory over Round Rock. Wells worked 6 innings, giving up 2 hits and 3 runs, all earned. He walked three and struck out two. Tony Campana, playing left field, was 2-for-4 with 2 run, an RBI and a stolen base.
Campana left Wrigley Field for Iowa Thursday. "I walked around the clubhouse, said my good-byes, and got in a taxi headed for O'Hare," Campana told the Des Moines Register's Randy Peterson. "They told me I was the 26th guy."
Tony also told the paper his parents were driving from Ohio to see him play. They were hoping for Chicago but got Des Moines.
"My parents were in a car, waiting for me to tell them either to stop in Chicago, or drive on through to Des Moines," he said.
Center fielder Brett Jackson was 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. He also had a walk and a stolen base. First baseman Anthony Rizzo had 2 hits, an RBI and a stolen base in his Cubs system debut. Manny Corpas and Scott Maine (save) pitched well in relief.
Wells, who was demoted late in spring training, told the paper his thoughts.
"It's not the most ideal situation you were looking for when you went into camp, but I can't sit here and say poor me, poor me," he said. "I pitch for the Iowa Cubs now. I want to do good here, and if they need me in Chicago, I'll be ready to go."
Class AA Tennessee got a nice pitching performance from righty Nick Struck in a 4-1 win over Chattanooga. Struck worked 6 innings, giving up 4 hits and 1 run. He walked only one and struck out 10. Struck was a 39th-rounder in 2009. Justin Bour (3-for-5) hit his first homer of the season. The top four hitter in the Smokies' lineup went 10-for-19. Jim Adduci was 2-for-4, and Logan Watkins 3-for-5. Jae-Hoon Ha had a pair of hits, including a double.
Class A Daytona lost 11-4 to Brevard County. Left fielder Rubi Silva was 3-for-4. Starting pitcher Matt Loosen lasted just one-third of an inning, giving up 1 hit and 3 runs. Park Ridge's Brian Schitter, a onetime Cub, pitched a scoreless seventh.
"Matt (Loosen) is a strike thrower," manager Brian Harper told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. "I think he was a little too excited and got out of his game. That's not normally him."
Class A Peoria beat Beloit 5-2. Starter Michael Jensen worked 5 shutout innings, giving up 2 hits. Third baseman Wes Darvil was 2-for-4 with a run. Center fielder Pin-Chieh Chen was 2-for-3 with a triple. Former outfielder and now lefty reliever Kyler Burke worked a shutout seventh, and Jeffrey Lorick got the save with 2 innings.
"Everybody can play up and down the lineup," Darvill told the Peoria Journal Star. "It doesn't matter who is at the top or who is at the bottom."