Welcome to the Rich Harden enigma. After a rough spring training in which Rich Harden was coddled through a cautious spring regimen, rumors abounded that Harden was injured again and wouldn’t be up to the task during the 2009 MLB season.
Harden answered the call in his 1st start against the Milwaukee Brewers last Friday – 6 innings, 2 runs (only 1 earned), 3 hits, 2 walks and 10 strikeouts. Although the Cubs eventually lost to the Brewers 4-3 in the 9th inning, Harden had put the Cubs in a position to win with his effective outing.
Fast forward 5 days, and we’re sure to hear the skeptics again. In the Cubs 5-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies, Harden struggled through 3 painful innings – 92 pitches, 4 earned runs, 5 hits, 4 walks and 8 strikeouts. Ouch.
To make matters worse, the Cubs lost to Jason Marquis, the former Cubs pitcher whom the Cubs traded to the Rockies during the off-season for Luis Vizcaino and to free up some salary cap. Marquis allowed only 1 run in 7 innings and is now 2-0 on the season with a 1.93 ERA.
One bright spot – David Patton pitched 2 scoreless innings of relief – giving up 1 hit and 1 walk, while striking out 3 batters.
Michael J. Fox attended the game and sang Take Me Out To The Ballgame during the 7th inning stretch at Wrigley Field.
Big weekend series against the Cardinals starting on Thursday. The Cards already have a 1-game lead in the division, so the Cubs need to at least split the series in order to stay close to the current NL Central division leaders.