Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cubs join grand slam party, win fifth straight

Monday: Cubs 5, Astros 1 (13 inn.)

Apparently it was Grand Slam Day in Major League Baseball, as there were a total of four on Monday night. Josh Willingham of the Nationals hit grand slams in the 5th and 6th innings. He's the thirteenth player to hit two grand slams in one game (meaning it's a feat more rare than a perfect game), and the sixth to hit them in back-to-back innings. Fernando Tatis, by the way, is the only player ever to have hit two grand slams in one inning, and, interestingly, he hit a grand slam Monday as well.

And the fourth, of course, was hit by Alfonso Soriano. He was 0-for-5 through 12 innings, meaning his nine-game hitting streak was in serious jeopardy. But even though all he needed was a long fly ball in the 13th, he smashed one about 430 feet to straightaway center just for fun.

The win enabled the Cubs to match their high-water mark of the season: they were seven games over .500 at 21-14 after beating ... the Astros on May 16.

Speaking of home runs, it doesn't matter what jersey Carlos Lee is wearing, he always hits the Cubs. He wailed on them with the White Sox, bashed them as a Brewer, and now he annihilates them as an Astro. His tape measure shot in the 2nd was his 29th career home run against the Cubs, by far the most for him against any team (he has 19 off the Royals and Indians). As I mentioned yesterday, he's definitely a starter on the All-Cub Killer Team.

A different Lee--Derrek--became the first Cub to hit 20 HR, and he did it in style with a visit to Waveland Avenue. He also matched his home run total from last year. Back in April, he would have been about fifth on my list of Cubs Likely to Hit 20 HR.

And while I give Piniella huge props for calling a suicide squeeze, what was he doing letting Zambrano bat in the 7th even though no bench players had been used and he was coming out of the game anyways? No Jake Fox? I realize Lou is loathe to use him because he's the back-up catcher, but you have to put an actual hitter in the game with runners at first and second in the bottom of the 7th, especially when the pitcher is being taken down one way or the other. Plus, Fox ended up coming in to catch late in the game anyways.

On the bright side, Z did an excellent job on the mound. With 7 IP and 1 ER, he now has a 2.63 July ERA and a 3-1 record to go with it. He took a tough no-decision Monday as Wandy Rodriguez continued an even better month--a 0.75 ERA and a 4-0 record. Rodriguez, 30, has seen his ERA go down every year since 2006, and his next win will give him more wins (11) in 2009 than any year of his career. Let's hope we don't have to see him in our one remaining series with the Astros.

On a separate note, Carlos Marmol has really turned it on of late. He hasn't allowed any runs in his last eight appearances, and has allowed just one run in his last 14. With Gregg just four saves off the league leading pace, the 8th and 9th innings have become very comfortable for the Cubs (as comfortable as 8th and 9th innings can be, anyways).

Central Intelligence

The Cardinals beat the Dodgers with the assistance of yet another home run by Mark DeRosa (5 of his 11 hits as a Cardinal are home runs, though he's hitting just .244), while the Brewers lost in part because of those Josh Willingham grand slams mentioned earlier. So the Cubs remain 1/2 game up on the Cards, and extend their lead over the Astros and Brewers to three and four games, respectively.


  1. This was excellent. I was in a bar in Houston when the ground rule double into the ivy was hit. The collective anger from several of the bar patrons combined with my subsequent taunting led to yelling match that included the following exchange. "The Ivy at Wrigley is the stupidest f**king thing in baseball" "You have a f**King flag poll on your field... shut up" "Yeah but that (the flag poll) adds to the character" "Are you serious? Is the your first day watching baseball? Find one neutral fan that thinks Minute Maid has more character than Wrigley. Find one." Silence...

    Sometimes I love living in hostile territory :)

  2. Note to Andrew .. hope you watched Tuesday's game at home ....