Game Recap: Cubs 7, Brewers 6; Cardiac Cubs version 2008
This was a game with a little bit of everything. Cubs starting pitcher Rich Harden had no-hit (but unfortunately, not no-walk) stuff. Jim Edmonds demonstrated that even if there's not a whole lot of gas left in the tank, it's still possible to go a while on fumes. Geovany Soto has already accomplished enough to win the Rookie of the Year Award - and today, he cemented the growing evidence that he's the best catcher in the game. Kerry Wood donned his leopard-print leotard and went back up on the wire again. And Derrek Lee thrilled us by taking it all home in the 12th.
First, Rich Harden. Considering the leeway that the home plate ump was giving Milwaukee pitchers, either Harden wasn't getting the same shake or he was really wild. Either way, Chicago Cubs Ace 2.0 Rich Harden only managed to go 5 innings. The Brewers couldn't hit the guy very well - they only got 1 - but he walked 6 of them while also striking out 7. Whatever the reason for his lack of control, he left with a 1 run lead (thanks for the solo homeruns, Jim Edmonds and Aramis Ramirez), but Cubs rookie reliever Jeff Samardzija got beaten like a drum in the 6th after Mark DeRosa made a fielding error. The Brewers notched 3 straight singles, Samardz walked 2 in the inning (3 if you count Prince, who they put on intentionally), and it looked as though the Cubs were not going to cut their magic number down on this day.
The Brewers tacked on an insurance run in the 9th off of Neal "The Luster's Off" Cotts, and it would have been 2 runs but Alfonso Soriano racked up his 10th assist of the season by gunning out J.J. Hardy. Insert link to timely "I love Alfonso Soriano" article here.
Then - then! - in the bottom of the 9th, with our hope extinguished like a candle's flame in the wind, with 2 outs in the fricking inning Jim Edmonds singled in Aramis Ramirez, Mark DeRosa reached also via a single, and Geovany Soto hit what we will refer to as an Epic Home Run.
Now, me, at this point, I'm not watching the game. It's not that I had given up per se, it's just that it was dinner time, I was hungry, and so there was no game for me. When, after dinner, I scampered to a TV and saw what was happening, I immediately got back into the game only to find ...
Kerry Wood, still doing his best Rod Beck, pitched 2 innings tonight. The first inning was one of sheer dominance. He faced 3 batters, he struck them all out, and deciding to let it ride, Lou sent him back out to pitch the 12th. Woody proceeded to surrender a leadoff single, then a double, and only then did he buckle down and get 3 outs.
Look, I'm a huge Kerry Wood fan. I also happen to be a fan of quiet 9th innings. Maybe I jumped the gun a little in the shoutbox, when I essentially said "NO MORE WOOD!" However, I am concerned, because a blown save 2 weeks from now could be season destroying. Now, I'm not sure if it's simply been a long season and Wood is tired, or if perhaps he's seen a little too much inactivity as of late, but Lou needs to get a regimen going in which Kerry is pitching one inning every two days from here until October, no matter the situation. Keep him fresh, keep him rested, and keep him loose. If I see Wood throwing 2 innings again, or back-to-back games again, I'm going to find Lou and I will confiscate his sammich.
Anyway, Woody got out of it, amazingly, and in the bottom of the 12th the Cubs worked some more of that 2 out magic. Darryl Ward drew a leadoff walk, Jason Marquis pinch ran, Reed Johnson bunted him to second, the Fonz was put on intentionally, and, after Ryan Theriot got the second out of the inning, Derrek Lee stepped up.
At this point, I was watching the game intently. I called C. into the room, as she's a huge D.Lee fan, mostly because I knew what was about to happen. When he singled in the winning run and was mobbed by his overjoyed teammates, I was the least surprised person you could've met. The Cubs win, the magic number is reduced, it's time to finish this thing already.
Series Recap: It coulda been a sweep. I'm not complaining, not one bit, but after the Cubs #3 pitcher beat the Brewers ace, and after the Brewers second ace left a game early yesterday, it became this team's series to lose. Thankfully, they didn't.
The Cubs next host the Cardinals. It will be the final series of the season at Wrigley Field. St. Louis is playing the Reds tonight in order to get out of a 7 game losing streak, and whether they win or extend their losing streak, they will be coming to Chicago tomorrow a broken team.
This has been a very fulfilling season. There have certainly been nervous moments, but they have been outweighed by the thrills. I'm looking forward to a clinching victory as early as tomorrow. It will happen soon, folks. Very soon.
Current Record: 92-59
Position in the NL Central: 1st place, 9 games in front of Milwaukee and 12 ahead of Houston
Best Possible Record: 103-59
Worst Possible Record: 92-70
On Pace For: 99-63
Magic Number: 2, as powered by CubsMagicNumber.com