Game Recap: Cubs 3, Cardinals 2; Slump Over?
I would kill my internet connection out of spite, but it's better to be crippled-but-online rather than dead-and-disconnected. It seems that MLB.TV doesn't want to play properly for me right now, which means that I have become increasingly reliant on the sports ticker. But that's ok - it's going to be a struggle for me to watch these games for awhile anyway. They're all too close.
Although the offense continues to slump, the Cubs won again tonight, their second in a row. Tonight's win came from RBIs generated by a bases loaded walk, a ground out, and more traditionally, a double. As a team, the Cubs combined for 7 hits and 5 walks, and they failed to capitalize on either 9 or 19 opportunities, depending on how you want to look at things.
Not that the continued offensive druthers mattered too much. Rich Harden triumphantly returned to the rotation, pitching 6 innings, giving up only 5 hits, 1 walk, and 2 runs. Both of the runs scored against Harden came in the 6th, thanks in part (and unsurprisingly) to Albert Pujols, who drove in one with a double. The Cubs ace was relieved by Lou's best three, all of whom promptly scared the crap out of Cub fans everywhere. I mean, c'mon guys, how long do we have to go before you relearn the meaning of a 1-2-3 inning? Samardija gave up a hit, leaving a Cardinal stranded at second. Marmol loaded the bases, although it was partly due to the continued sudden influx of stupidity on the part of Lou Piniella.
Look, I love Lou. The Cubs wouldn't be a first place team without him. But, when there was a man on 2nd and a man on 3rd with 2 outs, why in the hell did Lou make Marmol intentionally walk Adam Freaking Kennedy to load the bases? I mean, Adam Kennedy! The guy sucks! He's batting .267 with a homerun in 300 at bats. Josh Phelps, meanwhile, who pinched-hit for Jason LaRue, is batting .278 in admittedly limited at bats this year. But, still. When the Cubs intentionally walked Adam Kennedy, I hear he almost fainted from the shock of it. Besides that, with a 1-run lead and a pitcher with a few bouts with total and absolute wildness this year, I'm not sure how I'd feel about intentionally putting him in a situation in which he couldn't afford to miss his spots.
But, hey, it worked. Marmol got out of the 8th and Lou Piniella turned to the Shooter, Kerry Wood. Wood delivered on the opportunity for his 30th save this season by allowing a leadoff double and, after forcing an out at third, a single to Schumaker.
Then, with 2 men on, Wood struck out Aaron Miles and faced Albert Pujols, who popped out to center to end the game. But, I ask you this, my friends. Did you feel comfortable with Wood facing Pujols in that situation? With 2 outs and a base empty, wouldn't it have made sense to walk Pujols in order to face Ludwick? Do you ever give the other team's best hitter a chance to burn you in the 9th inning?
I think Lou is suffering from fatigue. I think his decisions as of late are mostly bad. I suppose I could be wrong, though.
Series Recap: It's their first series victory by the Cubs since August. Despite their slumps and slides since then, the Cubs are now 5.5 games in front of the second place Brewers. Milwaukee, that's got to hurt.
They next face the Houston Astros, depending on whether or not Hurricane Ike lets it happen. The first 2 games of the series have already been postponed, with the possibility that Sunday's game will be a double header and the 3rd game will be made up, in theory, at the end of the season.
I still think they should have just moved 'em to Wrigley, not that I ever expected that to actually happen.
All told, the Cubs are now 3-6 in September. Not exactly world breaking, but they've got time to go back to crushing the globe.
Current Record: 88-58
Position in the NL Central: 1st place, 5.5 games in front of Milwaukee and 8.5 ahead of Houston
Best Possible Record: 104-58
Worst Possible Record: 88-74
On Pace For: 98-64
Magic Number: 11, as powered by CubsMagicNumber.com