Game Recap: Cubs 11, Brewers 4; a team to envy
Without mercy, without any indication of it being a struggle, in fact, with poise and determination, the Cubs all-out slaughtered the Brewers today. I think that pretty well sums up any kind of necessary game recap, but let's look a little closer.
Apparently, Jim Edmonds has been reading the news, and he must have learned that Jim Hendry was shopping around for another outfielder, because he responded with 2 hits in 3 at bats - both homeruns, one a grand slam. Edmonds now has 12 homeruns with the Cubs and remains an amazingly valuable offensive asset.
Perhaps one of the most compelling statistics from today's game was this: after 6 innings, the Cubs had scored 5 runs, all while the 1-4 batters in the lineup had started the game 0 for 10. On top of the 2 homers by Edmonds, Soriano hit another homerun, as did Fukudome, who went 2 for 4. Kosuke, who'd been in the throws of a terrible slump - he batted .224 in the month of July - received 14 of his 21 hits this past month after the All Star Break. He's batting .298 since the break and, hopefully, he's back on track.
However, while the Cubs offense continued to reduce Brewer fans to tears, the story of the night was Rich Harden. Since coming to the Cubs, Harden had been a tough-luck starter. However, he managed his first win of the season for Chicago by throwing 7 strong innings, while allowing 6 hits, 0 walks, and striking out 9. The one run against him was a homer, and Harden how has an ERA of 1.11 with the Cubs.
I briefly discussed his incredible pitching with Jon Miller earlier, and I said that he may have supplanted Carlos as the team's ace. Jon then asked me who I'd want starting in Game One of a short series, and without hesitation I said "Carlos Zambrano!" Feel free to disagree with me, but I suspect that few of you will.
4 games, 4 wins, 31 runs scored against 11 allowed, 49 total hits, 17 walks, and if you listen carefully you can hear the sound of hearts breaking all throughout the land of cheese and beer. The Cubs entered the series having gone 3-6 since the break, and having seen their lead dwindle to 1 game. Now, they are 5 games up on either 2nd place team, and they have finished the month of July by going 15-11 in 26 games. So much for a July swoon.
It's already becoming a philosophical debate here and elsewhere. Aren't these just your typical Cubs? They're good enough to tantelize you; hell, they should even be good enough to play in October. And yet, some people are able to find a fundamental flaw with them - that flaw being, apparently, their inability to win every game (or at least every series) with comfortable dominance.
Here's the thing - no team can do that, but this team has shown that they can do a lot of other things right. For example:
- While not defensively flashy, they remain defensively sound. This is something that we are still not used to, having endured The Dusty Years.
- On any given day, their 5-8 hitters can light up a team. I can't emphasize how rare and amazing that is.
- Top to bottom, even including Marquis, the Cubs have to have one of the best rotations in baseball. Seriously. Only Oakland has a better team ERA for its starters, and do you know why that is? Because they had Rich effin' Harden for the first half of the season!!! The best team in the AL, the Angels, comes closest in having top-to-bottom quality starters, but the Cubs win pound-for-pound.
- Oh, and did we mention the bullpen? Even with the struggles of Marmol, even without the presence of Wood, the Cubs have a team ERA of 3.99. Not the best in the league right now, but I don't think we can complain much by the works of Wood, Marmol, Gaudin, and when they're back and healthy, Wuertz and Lieber. Not to mention the sensation that is Samardzija.
All of this is my way of simply saying that the Cubs are stacked. After having beaten the Brewers at home, I for one am strongly looking forward to the coming month. They have the capability of being 10 ahead of the 2nd place team come September 1st.
And, if that happens - or even comes close to happening - it'll be pretty hard not to believe that these guys are the real deal, and our best chance of ending the World Series drought in any of our life times. Go Cubs.
Current Record: 65-44
Position in the NL Central: 1st place, 5 games in front of Milwaukee and St. Louis
Best Possible Record: 118-44
Worst Possible Record: 65-97 - the Cubs are now 1 win away from equalling their total number of wins in Baker's last season
On Pace For: 97-65
Magic Number: 49