The Chicago Cubs defeated the Washington Nationals 9-1. The convincing win was the first game played under interim Cubs’ manager Mike Quade, and it couldn’t have gone any better.
Pete Kerzel has posted an article at the Cubs’ website titled “Coleman helps Cubs cruise in Quade’s debut.” As the headline reads, starting rookie pitcher Casey Coleman (1-1) did exactly that. He pitched a one-hit shutout all the way into the seventh inning.
Why did the Cubs play well in this game, when they have historically played so poorly, when they played so poorly recently for departing manager Lou Piniella?
As Kerzel reports, Quade’s message to the team was “Relax and play hard.” This, it seems, helped the team to believe this was a new start.
Nationals’ starting pitcher Livan Hernandez (8-9) gave up a five-run third inning that pretty much sealed the first win for Coleman. Interestingly, Coleman was pitching where his father had pitched. His father is Joe Coleman, and he was in the Majors for 15 years, compiling a record of 43-50.
The key word it seems was “relax.” However, I have to believe that Piniella’s worry over his mother’s health had to affect his thinking, and, furthermore, I think it took some wind out of his sails; he just wasn’t “into the game” like he historically has been. This may affect your choice of players as well.
Will the Cubs continue to play well? Quade made some good moves with respect to the batting order. He changed the lead hitter to Blake DeWitt, who had a leadoff homer to begin the Cubs’ fifth inning. Furthermore, Quade moved slugger Soriano to the seventh spot to give the pitcher a look at right-hand hitters.
I am very interested in this evening’s game, which will be the second game in the three-game series. Carlos Zambrano is pitching, and is committed to keeping Quade’s one-game winning streak going.
It may seem a little silly to make a lot of these remaining games. However, it doesn’t seem silly to the players who now feel they are playing for self-improvement, team loyalty and success.
I think they are going to win again.