Game Recap: Cubs 14, Pirates 9; Soto strikes again
If there's such a thing as jinxes, then I am responsible for the Carlos Zambrano implosion tonight. Earlier in the day on Jon Miller's show, I predicted that Carlos was going to dominate the toothless Pirates tonight.
Apparently Carlos decided that the best way to spend the first inning was by trying to throw the ball through Geovany Soto's chest. Consequently, he was wild. However, after a rough 3-run, nearly 30-pitch first inning, the Moose buckled down and I doubt many people were surprised when the Cubs took the lead in the 4th after Geovany Soto drove in 3 runs with a bases-clearing double, followed by Carlos himself continuing his hitting and RBI streak by knocking home his catcher.
Then, it became a dogfight. The Cubs scored their 4, but the Pirates responded by scoring 1. The Cubs scored another with a DeRosa double, the Pirates retaliated with a 2-run 5th that chased Carlos. The Cubs scored another in the 6th thanks to a Geovany Soto solo homerun, and then the Pirates scored 2 more to claim an 8-7 lead.
Then, in the 8th inning, the Cubs busted out their slugging implements* and rang up the Pirates for 7. Mike Fontenot led off the inning with a single, promoting the Pirates to fatally turn to Craig Hansen. After making the fatal mistake of allowing Alfonso Soriano to reach on a single, Hansen proceeded to walk Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee, and Aramis Ramirez. Then, Sean Burnett swooped in to save the day, and was rewarded by allowing a single to Reed Johnson (scoring Theriot). Then, after securing the first two outs of the inning, Geovany Soto hit another double, scoring another 3 runs, and he was followed by Fontenot who also hit a double, scoring another run. Phew, did you catch all of that?
(*because "whupping sticks" is just too cliche)
Anyway, that pretty much wrapped it up for the Cubs. Sure, Kerry Wood scared us a little in the 9th, but the final result was Cubs 14, Pirates 9, and after a considerable offensive effort, they have now won 82 games on the season, they are 32 games over .500, they have won yet another series, and with 5 games remaining they have matched my wins prediction for the month.
By the way, a couple of weeks ago Peter Gammons wrote a blog speculating about whether or not Geovany Soto was MVP material. At this point, he's got to be the sure-fire bet to be the Rookie of the Year. Tonight, he went 3 for 5 with 2 doubles, a homer, and 7 RBI. He's now got 20 homeruns on the year and he's driven in 78. With a month to play, while I think he falls short of being the National League MVP, he is without a doubt one of a few Cubs who has been absolutely essential to their success so far.
The Cubs will gain a game on the Cardinals tonight, who are currently being torn to shreds by the Brewers, and they play for a road game sweep tomorrow. Oh, and one final thought for you before you go: so far in the second half, Chicago is 13-5 on the road, and they're 12-1 in their last 13. Just incredible.