Game Recap: Cubs 3, Phillies 2; maybe I was wrong
A few days ago, I reminded everybody that the Cubs were bound to lose again. Since then, the Cubs have done nothing but prove me wrong. Even today, when they were being no-hit into the middle innings, this team managed to come from behind and then buckle down on a day when its closer was unavailable.
Can you imagine how dejecting it must be for the Brewers right now? They've been playing great baseball this month. Milwaukee has an August record of 17-7. they've had an 8 game winning streak and a 5 game winning streak. And yet, they are likely to enter September more games behind the Cubs than they were at the start of August.
Today's game would have been the first loss for Chicago in exactly a week, but this team doesn't have any quit in them. After scoring 2 runs in unusual ways - a Daryle Ward ground-out and a Kosuke Fukudome bases-loaded walk - Alfonso Soriano hit a moonshot in the 7th that, once it landed somewhere in Wisconsin, marked his 23rd of the year. It would be the difference.
Although Rich Harden wasn't at his peak today, he and the Cubs relievers were good enough. He went 5 innings, walking 4 and surrendering 3 hits. He was relieved by Lou's bodybag of choice last Friday, Chad Gaudin, who kept things close in the 5th. Then - then - Jeff Samardzija threw an inning and a third, giving up 2 hits and 2 walks while forcing Lou to turn to his 9th inning option 2 outs sooner than anybody had preferred. Luckily, Carlos Marmol has a history of doing this sort of thing, as I noted a few minutes ago. He struck out both batters he faced in the 8th, stranding 2 Phillies, and then he returned for the 9th without the Cubs offense padding his lead in the 8th.
Before I describe to you the epic struggle for the final out, I'd just like to take a moment to give props to Mark DeRosa. Granted, he wasn't exactly on a DiMaggio-like hitting streak, or even a Rose-like one, but he had hit safely in 10 straight games before this afternoon. And yet, in the bottom of the 8th, he chose to lay down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to 2nd and 3rd. That's a team player right there, folks.
In the 9th inning, Marmol trotted out there again, making this game his 14th of the season in which he's thrown more than 1 inning of work. He recorded 2 easy outs to start things, but Marmol's control then evaporated against Chase Utley. After nearly hitting Utley to start the at bat, Marmol threw 2 more balls. You could almost hear Larry Rothschild break out into a sweat. And then - and then - Marmol rediscovered the strike zone and set Utley down swinging.
Just like that, the Cubs win, they have now matched their win total from last season, they are 35 games over .500, and the Brewers are, at the moment, 7 games out of first.
Oh, and congratulations to Jeff Samardzija for notching his first ever major league win. It surprised me that this was his first. It feels as though he's been in the Majors for long enough to have recorded a win by now, especially considering how effective he's been. I'm sure this will be a contender for most obvious statement ever, but ... I have a feeling Samardzija will win plenty more before his career is over.