Game Recap: Cubs 3, Braves 2, Kurt Moderately Sad
Although I wrote about a hundred letters of protest, the Cubs ignored my pleas and pitched Carlos Zambrano today against Tim Hudson. The move didn't backfire, per se, as the Big Moosey went 7 strong innings, but he failed to get the decision due to Chicago's inability to score runs without Alfonso Soriano. (Just kidding, we all know the Cubs can score runs without Soriano. No, seriously, I'm not being sarcastic. You're just reading it that way for no reason. Knock it off, the Cubs are good. Seriously.)
Actually, the tale of the tape revolves around the continued offensive contribution of the Willie Mays of our generation, Jim Edmonds. (Yes, now I'm being sarcastic.) Edmonds scored the first Cubs run of the game in the 7th after sacrificing a fly ball in order for A-Ram to score from third, and he tied the game Moy Clutch style in the 9th with a massive, Waveland-busting homerun that actually was probably much shorter than that, but I was stuck at work so I didn't see it.
The Cubs pitching then kept the team in it until the 11th, when Reed Johnson took a clutch hit pitch to his body, allowing Aramis Ramirez to score the winning run. That's two times Ramirez scored this game off of 0 hits. It's probably not as rare as you might think, but it's still got to be a little unusual.
The bullpen was outstanding, relieving Zambrano in the 8th and pitching 4 scoreless innings in which they allowed 3 hits, 3 walks, and struck out 9 batters. Not bad. Kerry Wood in particular was outstanding - he went 2 innings, struck out 4, and secured his 3rd victory of the year while knocking his ERA down to 2.48.
Series Recap: This has to be the costliest sweep in recent memory. The Cubs beat the Braves in only the manner an invincible home team can pound on a visiting squad totally unable to win outside their home park, and yet all we'll remember a month from now will be that Alfonso Soriano suffered a crushing injury - no pun intended - in this series.
And yet, as the Cubs begin their toughest stretch of the season without an offensive impact at leadoff, they have now won 4 games in a row, they are 19 games over .500, and they have the best record in all of baseball. As they prepare for this rough stretch, I am comforted by this thought - they're a damned good team even without Soriano, and if they are still in first place on July 8th, then they will have to be the hands-down favorite to win not only the division, but the league.
Current Record: 43-24
Position in the NL Central: 1st place, 3 games ahead of St. Louis
On Pace For: 104-58
Record needed to win 120: 77-18