Friday, June 19, 2009

A walk (-off) to remember

Wednesday: White Sox 4, Cubs 1

[I feel the need to post about this game because I was there. For the fun part of this post, scroll down.]

Quite a dud of a game. There wasn't much to cheer about in the stands at Wrigley--unless, of course, you were wearing black and white. The Cubs offense sung a similar tune, wasting a few opportunities with men in scoring position and generally looking about as gray and dull as the weather.

On the mound, Dempster struggled with his control all day, walking six and throwing more balls than strikes overall. The Cubs are now 1-5 in their last six games, having scored just 10 total
runs during that stretch. After the game, Piniella spoke of making some changes to the lineup, but then trotted out basically the same lineup Thursday, with one positive change: Andres Blanco started at second in place of Aaron Miles.

In other Cubs news, the team is looking at Pedro Martinez. Only problem is, he's a career .100 hitter.

Thursday: Cubs 6, White Sox 5

Second verse, same as the first ... until the 8th inning.

With four unearned runs in the 8th and another run in the 9th, the Cubs came up with their biggest win of the year, hands down. The win tied the all-time series between the two at 34-34, and this was one of the most exciting games among those 68. The Cubs offense had been dormant for over a week, and then five runs in two innings? All I can say is that I had tickets to the wrong Cubs-Sox game.

Who knows if this shot in the arm will carry over beyond Thursday (especially with Cliff Lee taking the mound for the Indians on Friday), but either way, the Cubs needed exactly this: an exciting, comeback victory. The fact that it came over the Ozzie and the Southsiders makes it that much more enjoyable.

Derrek Lee extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a huge 8th-inning home run into the basket in right center, and Soto followed with an '08-like shot to left center. The four-run inning was the Cubs' first in 29 games, and Thursday was the first time the Cubs had scored more than four runs in a game since last Tuesday in Houston. Soriano capped off the comeback with a two-out, two-strike blooper to score Reed Johnson, who singled to start the inning and really, seriously, totally needs to play more.

Zambrano had his sinker working again, inducing seven ground balls and pitching pretty well overall. Zambrano's been so locked in lately that Chris Getz's double in the 1st was the first extra base hit he's allowed in his last four starts. But those were exactly the problem on this day, as four of the Sox hits off Zambrano went for extra bases.

The Cubs now sit four games out of first with exactly 100 games to go. We may know the Cubs' fate by the All-Star break--the final homestand prior to the Midsummer Classic features four against the Brewers and four against the Cardinals sandwiched around a set with the Braves. If they struggle their way through those 11 games, the Cubs could find themselves trying to sell off some pieces at the trade deadline. But if they turn things around and bang around the Brew Crew and the Redbirds, we should be in for an exciting second half.

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