Saturday, August 29, 2009

Soriano, no, no, yes!

Friday: Cubs 5, Nationals 2

The three fingers represent the number of runs he drove in with his game-winning home run, as well as the number of fielding miscues he had in the game.

The Cubs are 10th in the National League in runs scored, but it doesn't feel like they should even be that high, does it? They're 13th in batting average, but have used the long ball to help their cause--they've hit the fourth most home runs in the league, though it feels like they should be lower in that one too. Several key players have seen their home run tallies drop significantly from '08:



The Cubs also had 17 HR from the second base position last year, but have just seven this year. But with 137 home runs, the Cubs are on pace to hit just eight fewer home runs in '09 compared to '08.

Nevertheless, a precipitous decline in batting average, walks, on-base percentage, and a host of other offensive statistics has them in the bottom half of the league in runs scored and reveals why Cubs pitchers lead the league in batting average--because they know the only way they're going to get any run support is if they do it themselves.

On Friday, Ted Lilly was taking his fourth shot at his 10th win, and while he pitched well enough to get it, the offense managed just one first-inning run by the time Lilly had left the game in the eighth inning. When the Mets went up 2-1 in that inning, it looked like another lackluster offensive performance would do the Cubs in.

But the Cubs got Lilly off the hook for the loss when Bradley--who was on base after banging out his third hit of the game--scored on Ramirez's single through a drawn-in infield. After a walk to Jeff Baker, Soriano did the one thing the Cubs do well, launching a three-run homer to become the second Cub to reach the 20 home run plateau this year (aside: the Yankees have six players with 20 or more home runs). It was Soriano's first home run in August.

So while the Cubs will have to wait at least a few more days to get a pitcher into double digits in wins, they at least managed to beat a Mets team with guys like Angel Pagan, Fernando Tatis, Omir Santos, Cory Sullivan, Wilson Valdez, and starting pitcher Pat Misch ("Who?" "Misch." "Oooooh," as the routine between the PA announcer and the crowd used to go at Kenosha Twins games) in their starting lineup.

Lee, Ramirez and Soriano combined to go 6-for-11 with all five RBI in the game. Bradley was the only other player with any hits in the contest, notching two doubles along with a single, though he was booed after miscommunicating with Jeff Baker and dropping a fly ball.

On the mound, Ted Lilly continued to look comfortable since coming off the DL, Kevin Gregg got the win despite allowing the game-tying hit (though the run was charged to Lilly, and Soriano probably should have caught the long fly ball that resulted in said run, just one of several fielding miscues for Soriano in the game), and Carlos Marmol walked the leadoff man in the ninth but retired the next three batters to record his sixth save.

The Cardinals are now 20 games over .500 after Khalil Greene tied the game in the eighth with his first career pinch-hit home run and then Albert Pujols unloaded off Jason Bergmann in the ninth, hitting a tape measure, walk-off home run to beat the Nationals. The Cubs remain nine games back.

Like Brett Favre coming out of retirement, it was only a matter of time until ...

Bears nose tackle Dusty Dvoracek suffered a season-ending injury. For the fourth time in his four-year career, Dvoracek will be placed on injured reserve, this time with a torn right ACL. Dvoracek's injury turns a three-man race into a two-man race between Anthony Adams and Marcus Harrison.

A position battle on the same side of the ball has been decided, as Pisa Tinoisamoa (whose name might just be harder to spell than Jeff Samardzija's) will be the starting strongside linebacker alongside Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. Tinoisamoa, who was released by the Rams last season despite leading the team in tackles, was battling Nick Roach, Jamar Williams, and to a lesser extent, Hunter Hillenmeyer.

It's a good thing he won the battle given that he's the starter on the already-released Madden 10.

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