Kosuke Fukodome picked up his 1st 4 hits of the young 2009 MLB season in the Cubs 11-6 drubbing of the Astros on Wednesday night in Houston. Fukodome’s big night helped the Cubs record their 1st series win of the season. Fukodome singled in each of his 1st 2 at-bats in the 1st and 2nd innings and scored a run as part of the 4-run innings. The Cubs had an 8-0 lead after 2 frames. In the 5th inning, Fukodome doubled and scored on an Aramis Ramirez double, and in the 9th inning, Fukodome added a solo home run to deep right center to finish off his productive night. Other players with big nights – Alfonso Soriano – 2 for 5 with 2 runs scored, a walk and a stolen base; Aramis Ramirez – 4 for 6 with 4 RBI’s and 1 run scored; and Mike Fontenot – 2 for 5 with 4 RBI’s and 1 run scored (including a 3-run homer).
The Cubs need more outings like this from Fukodome during the course of the 2009 MLB schedule. As we have been saying along, Fukodome is the “X” factor for the Cubs this year. If he has a solid year and can hit consistently in the #2 hole behind Alfonso Soriano, that will really give the opposing teams’ tough looks all year long. Fukodome needs to regain some patience at the plate and not try to do too much. With Lee, Bradley and Ramirez coming up behind Soriano and Fukodome, pitchers will have a tough time navigating through those 1st 5 batters when Fukodome is on. If Fukodome struggles at the plate as he did during the 2nd half of 2008, the Cubs lineup becomes a little more mundane, and opposing teams and managers will be able to counteract the predominantly right-handed hitting lineup. We’ll keep a close eye on Fukodome early on here in the season.