Recap(s): Super Fun Edition (Cubs 5, Cards 0; Cubs 6, Cards 5)
It seems like everything but the product on the field has been unbearble for the past two days at the Friendly Confines. Despite oppressive heat and humidity, the Cubs have found a way to take the first two games of the series against the division rival and spawn of satan Cardinals. Let's break it down.
In an opening game that is sure to spawn another book by Tony LaRussa about how much he hates Mark Prior, the Cubs toyed with Jeff Suppan while getting a much needed performance out of Randy Wells. While Dave Duncan is usually the King Midas of reclaimation projects, I think he bit off more than he could chew in the re-signing of Jeff Suppan. The six-inning outing by Suppan was a tie for his longest outing of the year, despite giving up 5 ER and 3 HR. There is just a certain point where a "crafty veteran" loses the craftiness and his stuff just hangs over the plate. If this season between Milwaukee and St. Louis is any indication, Suppan has reached that point.
Tyler Colvin, Geo Soto, and Alfonso Soriano didn't seem to mind the fact that Suppan was toeing the rubber on Friday. In the leadoff role (10 games), Colvin has flourished with a .302/.375/.651 line, accumulating 5 HR and 13 RBI's out of that spot. Those numbers are hard to argue with, but I still stand by my earlier statement that I'd rather see Starlin Castro in the leadoff role due to the speed he brings to the table. Perhaps a flip-flop of Castro and Colvin in the lineup would give us an even more potent 1-2 punch.
Speaking of Castro, he flashed some rare power in the game on Saturday. The fact that we don't see him hit "for power" very often is something that both shocks me and, at the same time, makes me happy. The shock comes from the fact that the swing he put on the ball yesterday was smooth and gorgeous, and it looks like something he could repeat. On the other hand, the lack of power numbers combined with Castro's recent success at the plate show that he is really doing a lot with what is given to him, and not forcing anything.
Cub pitching has also taken center stage with great starting performances by Tommy G and Randy Wells. Moreover, the bullpen, specifically Sean Marshall, has impressed me. As serviceable of a starter Marshall has/could be, the repetoire he brings out of the bullpen is unlike most relievers. The way he can change a hitter's eye level is vital in late game situations.
Overall, it has been a good two days. I'd love to see us take the sweep later tonight. However, our attention should be turned to more important matters right now. One of my childhood idols, and I'm sure many of the readers here feel the same, is being inducted into the Hall of Fame today. While he may not don a hat with a big red "C" upon entry, he will always be a Cub to me, to the game of baseball, and in his own view. Congrats, Hawk: you gave your heart, soul and body to the game of baseball and because of that, you will forever be able to call Chicago home.