Monday, July 20, 2009

Cubs on pace to go 76-0 in second half

Maybe I should stop watching Cubs games. I was out of town and away from the TV all weekend attending the magnificent wedding of two of my wonderful friends, Van Miller and Laine Twanow. The ceremony was short (but very sweet) and the reception was a blast. Congratulations to Van and Laine.

Honestly, I can't remember the last time I missed three consecutive Cubs games. But if that's the secret recipe for a Cubs sweep by a combined score of 26-11, perhaps I'll have to avoid the Cubs altogether!

The Cubs beat a bad, bad (and I mean bad) team, but

a) they did it on the road
b) the Nationals took two of three from the Yankees in Yankee Stadium earlier this season, and also took a series from the Blue Jays
c) they absolutely destroyed them--along with outscoring them by 15, they amassed 17 more base hits

Each Cubs starter (Harden, Zambrano, Wells and Hart) got a win in the series, though perhaps the worst aspect of the sweep was that only Harden managed to go more than five innings. Samardzija saved the bullpen Sunday with three innings of work, and will probably be unavailable tonight. The Cubs' overtaxed bullpen may not get much of a reprieve against the Phillies, who lead the league in runs scored and have won eight in a row.

On the offensive side, Aramis Ramirez got back in the swing of things with his first home run since May 6; Soriano got his groove back with home runs in back-to-back games after sitting out Friday's game with a swollen pinky finger; Micah Hoffpauir and Jake Fox combined to go 6-for-10 with a HR and 4 RBI on Sunday; Fukudome had six hits in the three games he played; well, you get the picture. The Cubs moved up two spots to 13th (yay!) in the NL in runs scored with their big weekend.

The Cubs were looking to build some confidence coming out of the break, and with that goal in mind, it doesn't get much better than winning the first four on the schedule. The Cardinals lost one to the Diamondbacks while the Brewers split four with the Reds, so the Cubs sit in 2nd place alone, just two games back. The Cubs have also won six of seven overall.

The last time we could feel this good about the team was after they swept the Indians in mid-June. But two of those wins were one-run, walk-off victories, whereas the Cubs abused the Nationals like Mary Murphy abuses my eardrums every Wednesday and Thursday on So You Think You Can Dance (I've been watching this season's shows because IWU student Evan Kasprzak is in it, and is now in the final eight). All the Cubs can do is win the games on their schedule, and they did that in style this weekend. It will be interesting to see how they stack up against one of the better teams in the majors this week. The Phils have taken control of an underperforming NL East, building a 6 1/2 game lead over the Braves and a 9 game lead over the fading Mets.

Quote of the Day

"Jake can swing the bat," Piniella said. "He had a new glove at third base today, and we checked it out a little bit. He said, 'I couldn't catch the ball with my old glove.' I said, 'So far, you're not doing much better with the new one.' The guy swings the bat. He likes to hit."

(hat tip: Mandy Christol)

Rocky Mountain High

Jason Marquis matched his highest win total as a Cub when he notched his ML-leading 12th victory yesterday (he won 12 in '07). He went eight innings against the hapless Padres and allowed just one run to lower his ERA to 3.49.

And in golf ...

On Sunday, the PGA proved it can have an exciting, nail-biting tournament without Tiger Woods even making the cut.

Tom Watson, 59, would have become the oldest golfer to win a major and would have tied for the most British Open wins, but he bogeyed the 18th hole to set up a playoff with Stewart Cink, who had never had even a share of the lead until then. Watson fell apart in the four-hole playoff and lost by six strokes.

Usually if Tiger's not near the top of the leaderboard at the end, many viewers aren't near that channel. But I was definitely not happy when I had to stop watching the re-broadcast with about three holes to go. It turned out to be a great finish, and the PGA has to be thrilled that Sunday's action reminded golf fans that there are indeed other compelling story lines out there--it's just that Tiger usually doesn't let us find them.

On a separate note ...

This is weird.

1 comment:

  1. If you are watching tonite's game .. turn it off NOW; maybe there's still hope. And don't even think of watching it tomorrow nite. And I don't think any of the top 9 Sports Center highlights will be of the Cubs.

    Congratulations to Van and Laine - what a great couple. Wish them all the best.