Gamecast: July 26th vs. Reds
Micah Owings (6-10, 5.33 ERA) vs. Rich Harden (6-6, 4.76 ERA)
The Cubs have won 9-of-12 and all of the sudden find themselves just a 1/2 game behind the Cardinals for the NL Central lead. It really is amazing when you really think about it some. We all know that this season has not been the easiest to watch, but the Cubs hung around and nobody put them away. The team still has a lot of flaws, but getting to first place would be a huge hurdle for the team this late in the season.
Yesterday, the Cubs offense broke out once again thanks to Aramis Ramirez, and Kevin Hart did what he had to do. With Ted Lilly on the DL, my guess is that Hart gets a couple more starts, unless Jim Hendry deals for a starter. Even if that doesn't seem likely at this point.
In other news, it looks like Milton Bradley isn't going anywhere anytime soon. I didn't think the trade was likely, and maybe Milton wanted to show something with his PH home run yesterday. The Cubs need him to start to hitting, because I can't imagine who they would get to replace him. There has been a lot of complaining about Milton, but he's still got a .377 OBP.
On the mound, Rich Harden has to pitch in a day game since Lilly was scratched from yesterday's start. After a rough start to July, which saw his ERA rise to 5.47 at one point, Rich has turned in two solid performances. A third one here, and the Cubs could go into next week in first place.
Aramis Ramirez - He only had one hit yesterday, but it was a big one. If he is truly back to form, the Cubs should be in good shape.
Alfonso Soriano - Don't look now, but Sori's average is above .250 for the first time since May 29th. He gets "crazy hot" sometimes, so lets ride it as long as it lasts. He's raised his average 28 points since July 4th, when he ended the day hitting .223.
Koyie Hill - Another 0-for-3 day dips Koyie below .200. You would think that Lou has to give Jake Fox one chance right?
The Cubs stumbled all year, but now is the time to strike. If Jim Hendry has anything up his sleeve, now is the time to pull it out. At worst, the Cubs need one more lefy in the pen to go along with Sean Marshall. It would be a great day to see the Cubs move into first place, and add something for the stretch run.