When the two clubs meet again on Saturday evening in the second installment of their three-game set at Miller Park, they will be locking horns in a key National League Central battle but trying to keep things positive after some unfortunate circumstances clouded the first week of 2011.
For the Cubs, Saturday is the second game of the club's first road trip of 2011, a nine-game excursion to Milwaukee, Houston and Colorado. And they're playing while the news is still fresh that two of their starters, Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells, will be sidelined indefinitely because of injuries. Both were put on the disabled list Friday.
"You put the injuries behind you," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "You just roll with stuff. Hopefully we don't have any injuries the rest of the year. You deal with them and move past them. Whether you're home or on the road, we still have a lot of work to do to be a better club defensively. We can do everything better. To that end, whether we're playing in Chicago or Colorado, we'll keep working at it."
On Saturday, the Cubs will look to new acquisition Matt Garza to keep them on the right track. Garza had a unique and eventful outing in his first start as a Cub last Sunday at Wrigley Field against Pittsburgh, striking out a career-high 12 batters and also giving up a career-high 12 hits, all singles, in a no-decision in a game the Cubs eventually lost, 5-4.
"I kept trying to get outs and get back into the dugout and get those guys an opportunity to hit," he said. "I kept attacking, I kept attacking. Even though those 12 singles were annoying, I kept telling myself, 'Get to the next pitch, get to the next pitch and keep attacking.'"
For the Brewers, it will be up to left-hander Chris Narveson to lead the attack, and based on his performance in his first outing of the year, the Cubs will have plenty to deal with.
Narveson started the Brewers' home opener on Monday vs. Atlanta after being bumped up to the start after the Brewers lost potential Opening Day starter Zack Greinke to a cracked rib. He responded to the pressure, throwing six scoreless innings and giving up only three hits while striking out five and walking three. He left with a 1-0 lead but was the victim of a blown save by Takashi Saito, but the southpaw and his skipper were happy with the way he handled the emotions of the start.
"I was looking forward to it a lot," Narveson said. "It's a big game, especially for the fans, to get the season started. But obviously you have a lot of starts coming throughout the season, so you have to take it in stride, build off of this one and use it as a platform for the next one."
Cubs: A multi-hit Star(lin)
Shortstop Starlin Castro's four multi-hit games are tied for tops in the National League, while his two triples also ties for first, his 10 hits are tied for third and his four extra-base hits (two doubles, two triples) are tied for fourth. At 21 years and 15 days old, Castro is the youngest player in the Major Leagues.
The Cubs on Friday recalled right-hander Jeff Stevens from Triple-A Iowa. Stevens, 27, has pitched in part of the last two seasons with the Cubs and is 1-0 with a 6.53 ERA in 29 relief appearances in his big league career.
The Cubs have started the 2011 season with seven straight games decided by three or fewer runs, and a reliever picking up a save in each game. At the start of the 1990 season, the Cubs' first six games were also decided by three or fewer runs.
Brewers: Rivalry new for Roenicke
New Brewers manager and former longtime Angels coach Ron Roenicke was asked about the Brewers-Cubs rivalry and how so many Cubs fans invade Miller Park. Did he see anything like it during his days with the Angels? "Yep, Boston and New York," Roenicke said. "Always Boston. There's a lot of red there, but most of it was red from Boston. It's incredible. I used to ask, how can all these people in Anaheim be Boston fans?" As for this rivalry, Roenicke said he'll have to wait and see. "I haven't been here, so I don't know what that rivalry is," Roenicke said. "It's just a baseball game to me. We're playing a good team, and we're going to try to win. That's what it means to me."
First baseman Prince Fielder needs seven home runs for 200 in his career. His 193 homers currently rank fifth on the all-time franchise home run list behind Robin Yount (251), Geoff Jenkins (212), Gorman Thomas (208) and Cecil Cooper (201). On Friday night, Fielder got the one long ball he needed to reach the 100 mark at Miller Park. He is the all-time leader in homers at the stadium. Jenkins is next at 73, and Ryan Braun has 69 at Miller.
The Brewers on Saturday night will surpass the 25-million mark in attendance at Miller Park, which opened in 2001.
Garza will be making his first career start against the Brewers. Garza's 12 strikeouts in his first start this year were the most all-time in a Cubs debut. The previous mark was 10, done four times and most recently by Thomas Diamond on Aug. 3 of last year. ... Narveson is 3-0 with a 3.66 ERA in nine career games (two starts) against the Cubs. He went 2-0 with a 4.91 ERA in five games (one start) against Chicago last season. His only start last season vs. Chicago came in a 4-3 win on Aug. 3 at Wrigley Field.