Game Recap: Cubs 9, Mets 6; extra inning thrill
Tonight's game was one of thrills and disappointments. Cub fans were thrilled to see an offensive outburst, including a 4 run 5th inning that would bring the team back from a serious deficit. Cub fans were disappointed that Carlos Zambrano continues to make up for his September moment of brilliance with yet another mediocre and stress-inducing start. We were thrilled that after going into extra innings, the team scored 3 runs in the 10th to capture the win. We were disappointed, bizarrely enough, by Bob Howry's buckling down and escaping a dangerous 9th. We were thrilled that Kerry Wood had a 1-2-3 10th to get his 34th save of the season. Some of us were disappointed, again bizarrely, because the Mets lost and the Brewers still have a shot of getting into the playoffs.
But as I said in the shout box, don't worry. The Cubs can beat the Mets again tomorrow - in fact, I hope they do - but it means little to the Brewers, because Chicago will be their final obstacle this season. Considering the crappy luck Milwaukee has had against the Cubs so far, I have a pretty strong suspicion that they won't have an easy sweep this weekend.
Now, to break it all down...
Yes, Cub fans, Mark DeRosa left the game after a 2 for 3 start (including a homer, a double, and 3 RBI) because, as GA Hill noted in the Shout Box, he's got a strained calf. Lou Piniella has noted that DeRosa was scheduled to rest the next couple of days anyway, and it seems unlikely that he'll be at risk to miss time in the playoffs.
Furthermore, the Cubs saw good offensive days from a few other guys, too. The Fonz went 2 for 5. Theriot went 3 for 6 and will probably finish the year with a better-than-.300 AVG and the second-highest total of hits for any player on the team. Oh, Reed Johnson also had a good game, going 2 for 5, and Aramis "Nail in the Coffin" Ramirez got some Big Game Hit practice tonight with his 10th inning 2-run homer.
On the pitching front, forgetting about Carlos, Neal Cotts struck out 3 in 1.1 innings of work, Jeff Samardzija had another rough inning, Bob Freakin' Howry nearly blew it in the 9th, but managed to hold on for a Kerry Wood save in the 10th.
Let's spend a moment on Howry. Apparently unconcerned with actually winning, Lou brought Bob in and Mr. Excitement surrendered a leadoff triple, struck out David Wright, intentionally walked the next 2 guys to load the bases, forced Ramon Castro to hit into a fielder's choice ground out, and then struck out Ryan Church to escape. Cripes, that's not the kind of baseball I had in mind tonight.
Anyway, with 4 games remaining the Cubs accomplished 2 things tonight. 1) They have matched their highest win total of any year since 1945. It seems likely-if-not-certain that the Cubs will reach the post season with the best record that most of us have seen in our life-times. 2) They've ensured that, at the worst, they will have split the season series with the Mets this year.
I've said a few times now that Pat Hughes is calling these games on his own because Ron Santo hates NYC. In fact, I suspect that he's had a few experiences there in his life time that could easily have been the basis for one of the greatest Simpsons episodes of all time - The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson, best known for how Homer left the city while driving a car with no windshield, behind a garbage truck which was spewing trash all over him:
Lisa: Oh, Dad, I loved it there! Can we come back someday?
Homer: Maybe we will, sweetie. Maybe we will.