Game Recap: Cubs 7, Brewers 1 - A satisfying win
I suppose it's a bit of a polarizing time here on GROTA, after Rob posted his dissertation as to why this Cubs team impresses him no more than any other Cubs team in his life time, while pointing out that all those other Cubs teams did not win.
Feel free to be pissed with him, much as some of you may get pissed with me anytime I suggest to people that going ultra-negative would be an overreaction. I'll make the same suggestion to him - a lifetime of misery be damned, feeling this much frustration with a first place, best-record-in-the-NL team at the end of July might be stretching it a bit. As I've said in the past, perhaps the only teams to never have a rough patch in a season are the 116-win Mariners and the 1906 Cubs, and neither of those two teams won a World Series. But, be pissed with Rob, disagree vehemently with Rob, argue with Rob until your fingers go numb from all the typing, do what you've got to do, but don't discount why he feels that way. The guy's been following the Cubs since the late 60's, which means he's dedicated close to 40 years of his life to gut-wrenching seasons that ended in misery.
In other words, consider him our own Ron Santo, but articulate. Santo is the biggest homer in broadcasting. Nobody expresses more excitement than he does when the Cubs are winning, and no-one sounds more miserable when something goes wrong. And it doesn't take a communications expert to judge that, as Ronnie moans and laments on the air, he sure as hell sounds as if he'd been waiting for the wheels to come off. Being a life-long Cub fan has that effect on people. Now then, on to the recap, or as I prefer to call it, the good news.
In all fairness, we can perhaps levy two criticisms against the Cubs this season. The first is that they have not won on the road the way a winning team should. The second is that they have the firepower to pull away in the central, but they just haven't done that. Last night, they worked hard to address both concerns.
In a game that should have been close and low scoring, it was everything but. Sure, the Cubs kept to the script for the first 5 innings, as they had a 1-run lead into the 6th. Then, the great Brewers ace Ben Sheets melted, primarily due to the defensive miscues of Ryan Braun. Kosuke Fukudome, who finished the day with 2 hits, tripled home Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. Mark DeRosa was driven home by the Big Moose, Carlos Zambrano. Point of fact, every Cub regular got at least 1 hit last night. They combined to smack 15, and scored all 7 runs off hits that stayed within the ballpark.
Zambrano, meanwhile, did what Zambrano does best - 8 innings pitched, 5 hits allowed, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts. While Lou perhaps should have pulled him after the 7th because of a high pitch count, Carlos pitched well in yet another big game. Jeff Smardzija followed the Moose with a 1-run 9th, and the Cubs are now guaranteed sole ownership of first place regardless of how the next 2 games go against the Brewers.
Going back to my man Rob, I know exactly what it's going to take to get him on board with the team and feeling good. Unfortunately, what it will take is not one clinching out, but three, and not in September, but in October. When you've invested so much of your heart into - of all things - a sports franchise, and when they've broken it so many times, it takes more than a band-aid or even an adrenaline injection to warm the heart of a Cubs fan. It takes results. So, I understand his perspective, even as I believe the Cubs are getting results now. But, hey, if I follow this team for 10 or 15 more years to the same results that I've seen in the first 20, I can't say that I wouldn't feel the same.