Game Recap: Cubs 9, Astros 0 - that's more like it
If we take a look at the final tally of this series in Houston, we will find that the Cubs outscored the Astros 11-6 but still managed to lose 2 of 3 games. It was clearly a frustrating series for Lou Piniella, as he commented after yesterday's game that the Cubs were pretty miserable on the road, at least offensively. For that reason, Lou must have decided that the only true way to retaliate would be in the usual manner - punishing Carlos Marmol by pitching him in a blowout. But hey, after all the beatings the Cubs have been taking, we'll take any kind of win, even if it's a tear-inducing one for Marmol who has to be frustrated by the overuse and abuse he's experienced this season.
Offensively, the Cubs jumped out of the gate quickly thanks to the bat of the overrated Derrek Lee (just ask one of our readers) who went 2 for 5 with 3 RBI. Actually, while it is always nice watching Lee swing the bat well, Kosuke Fukudome is the most important story of the game, at least for me. Our Japanese sensation has looked redonkulous the last few weeks, but he had a respectable day today, getting 2 hits and scoring 2 runs. It'll still be a while before he's officially busted out of his mid-season druthers, but I'm convinced he's capable.
Today's most depressing offensive performance came from Aramis Ramirez. I think that, as Cub fans, we have to better appreciate the fact that, when he's hitting the ball, Ramirez can be just as devastating as Alfonso Soriano. However, like the Fonz, A-Ram can get ice-cold sometimes, too, and he's had some legendary slumps in the past couple of seasons. Take his 0-for-28 streak he had earlier this year, which lasted from June 25th until July 5th. Or his 0-for-14 streak which went from the last game of the regular season last year all the way through the playoffs. Currently, he's in the throws of an 0-for-16 streak. Youch.
However, as Ramirez struggles, growing Cub legend Mike Fontenot had a 3 for 4 day, including a solo homerun in the 5th and a 2-run double in the 9th. Apparently, Fontenot uncovered the secret location of the head of Ted Williams and underwent a brain transplant not too long ago. Or he could just have reached that mythical point in his baseball career where he has the exact right mixture of confidence, ability, and intelligence. Enjoy it while it lasts, Cub fans, be it a year, a month, or a week. Little Babe Ruth is winning games for this team with his bat.
The one mildly concerning offensive fact of today's game: 0 walks. The Cubs drew a collective 1 walk in the last 3 games; maybe it's not too surprising that they didn't exactly set Houston on fire with the fury of their offense.
On the pitching front, Ryan Dempster looked his 0-win road record square in the eye and landed a hard surprise-kick straight in its nads. He went 8 solid innings, giving up only 6 hits and 1 walk while striking out 7. Oh, and did we mention that Carlos Marmol came in to pitch the 9th and delivered a clutch, much-needed 1-2-3 inning to end the game? Yep, the Cubs needed that, as their lead on Houston was tenuous at best. F*****g Lou.
Series Recap: A very brief one because I've got about ten other things I want to do before I go to bed tonight. The Cubs could very well enter the playoffs with the best record in the National League. They could lead all of baseball in runs scored, their pitching could buckle down and put up on of the best ERAs in the game this year, and if they continue to lose regularly on the road, then a World Series victory - not to mention a losing appearance, for that matter - will remain a vague concept to be dreamt of for future seasons.
Current Record: 58-40
Position in the NL Central: 1st place, 2 games in front of St. Louis
On Pace For: 96-66
Record needed to win 120: 62-2