Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Game Recaps

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Game Recap: Cubs 7, Brewers 2; it's practically a low blow

Cubs Brewers

Anyone not feeling it tonight?

The Cubs haven't just beaten the Brewers on the road this series - they've outright dominated them. It's been a painful series for Milwaukee fans, who thought up til now that they just might be able to overpower the Cubs and take the NL Central pennant this year. Instead, it appears as though the Cubs are unstoppable, even if they can be slowed down from time to time as we've seen in recent weeks.

Tonight's story centers again around the two-prong attack that Chicago brings to practically every game they play. That's the scary thing about the Cubs. They always have the ability to score 5, 6, 10 runs a game. They also always have the ability to hold their opponents to 0, 1, 3 runs. Put a high-octane offense and an ice-cold pitching staff together and you have the recipe to build a World Champion team.

The Cubs did what they could to show that ability off tonight. On 14 hits and 8 walks - including 3-hit games from Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Theriot, and Reed "The Steed" Johnson and multi-walk games from Soriano, Theriot, and Ramirez - the Cubs were able to score 7 runs. They again did it without the homerun. Ryan Dempster complimented this offensive explosion with 7 innings of 5-hit, 1-walk, 1-run baseball in which he struck out 9.

The Cubs now have a healthy 4-game lead on the Brewers. Jon Miller tells me that, entering the month, they led by 2.5 games over the Cardinals. While it has hardly been a month worth singing about, the Cubs at this point will be exiting perhaps the hardest month on their schedule with a net gain in the standings.

Maybe our most caustic writer Rob is right - it's certainly not a sure thing. Let's be fair, it never is. But this remains an outstanding team, little flaws included. They're well assembled top-to-bottom, they are managed by somebody who actually knows what he's doing, and they're going to pick up steam in August.

Game Recap: Cubs 7, Brewers 1 - A satisfying win


Cubs Brewers


I suppose it's a bit of a polarizing time here on GROTA, after Rob posted his dissertation as to why this Cubs team impresses him no more than any other Cubs team in his life time, while pointing out that all those other Cubs teams did not win.

Feel free to be pissed with him, much as some of you may get pissed with me anytime I suggest to people that going ultra-negative would be an overreaction. I'll make the same suggestion to him - a lifetime of misery be damned, feeling this much frustration with a first place, best-record-in-the-NL team at the end of July might be stretching it a bit. As I've said in the past, perhaps the only teams to never have a rough patch in a season are the 116-win Mariners and the 1906 Cubs, and neither of those two teams won a World Series. But, be pissed with Rob, disagree vehemently with Rob, argue with Rob until your fingers go numb from all the typing, do what you've got to do, but don't discount why he feels that way. The guy's been following the Cubs since the late 60's, which means he's dedicated close to 40 years of his life to gut-wrenching seasons that ended in misery.

In other words, consider him our own Ron Santo, but articulate. Santo is the biggest homer in broadcasting. Nobody expresses more excitement than he does when the Cubs are winning, and no-one sounds more miserable when something goes wrong. And it doesn't take a communications expert to judge that, as Ronnie moans and laments on the air, he sure as hell sounds as if he'd been waiting for the wheels to come off. Being a life-long Cub fan has that effect on people. Now then, on to the recap, or as I prefer to call it, the good news.

In all fairness, we can perhaps levy two criticisms against the Cubs this season. The first is that they have not won on the road the way a winning team should. The second is that they have the firepower to pull away in the central, but they just haven't done that. Last night, they worked hard to address both concerns.

In a game that should have been close and low scoring, it was everything but. Sure, the Cubs kept to the script for the first 5 innings, as they had a 1-run lead into the 6th. Then, the great Brewers ace Ben Sheets melted, primarily due to the defensive miscues of Ryan Braun. Kosuke Fukudome, who finished the day with 2 hits, tripled home Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. Mark DeRosa was driven home by the Big Moose, Carlos Zambrano. Point of fact, every Cub regular got at least 1 hit last night. They combined to smack 15, and scored all 7 runs off hits that stayed within the ballpark.

Zambrano, meanwhile, did what Zambrano does best - 8 innings pitched, 5 hits allowed, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts. While Lou perhaps should have pulled him after the 7th because of a high pitch count, Carlos pitched well in yet another big game. Jeff Smardzija followed the Moose with a 1-run 9th, and the Cubs are now guaranteed sole ownership of first place regardless of how the next 2 games go against the Brewers.

Going back to my man Rob, I know exactly what it's going to take to get him on board with the team and feeling good. Unfortunately, what it will take is not one clinching out, but three, and not in September, but in October. When you've invested so much of your heart into - of all things - a sports franchise, and when they've broken it so many times, it takes more than a band-aid or even an adrenaline injection to warm the heart of a Cubs fan. It takes results. So, I understand his perspective, even as I believe the Cubs are getting results now. But, hey, if I follow this team for 10 or 15 more years to the same results that I've seen in the first 20, I can't say that I wouldn't feel the same.

Game Recap: Cubs 6, Brewers 4 - All according to plan

Before I left for work this morning, I took the liberty of preparing a game line as usual, and then I forgot to upload it.  So, it will be added tonight after I get home from work.

Yesterday, I basically speculated that the Cubs are set up to do very well in this series, if they could do the improbable and beat Sabathia.  After all, with the possible exception of Zambrano-Sheets, Chicago favors well in every other match-up in the series.  They now find themselves in a very positive position, if they can continue to score on the road.

Yesterday's offense was sparked by Alfonso Soriano, again.  The Fonz hit his 2nd homer in 6 games, which means he's already within shooting distance of the total I thought he'd finish with in the second half of the season - 5.  

Soriano's bat was complimented by Derrek Lee, who went 3 for 5 with 3 RBI, including the game-winner in the 9th.  Lee is now second in all of the NL in game-winning RBI this season, with 11.  You know who's not on that list?  Adrian Gonzalez.  I'm just saying.

On the pitching-front, Ted Lilly went 6 strong, allowing 3 earned runs.  He was denied the win, however, because of Bob "DFA" Howry - the DFA standing for Designated For Assignment.  So far this month, Howry has a 7.80 ERA.  He's given up at least one or more earned run in 6 of his last 9 outings.  Howry is a walking gas-can, a modern day Bob Patterson, and if the Cubs insist on keeping him around then he needs to be used exclusively in mop-up rolls.

Speaking of mop-up, Ron Santo probably had to take a mop to his forehead last night with all the sweating that he must have been doing in the 9th.  Carlos Marmol came in, mowed down the first 2 guys he faced, unintentionally/intentionally walked Prince Fielder, and then had a little bit of drama getting the last out of the game against Gabe Kapler who eventually smacked a deep fly that came up just short.

If the Cubs can win tonight, they will have guaranteed that they will leave Milwaukee in first place.  With Zambrano squaring off against Sheets, it will be no easy feat, but it's possible.  Hell, maybe it's even likely.  ...but, probably not.


Game Recap: Cubs 9, Marlins 6


Holy crap, they're alive.


I refer, of course, to all the people in the world who happen to be alive. I'm frankly not sure why I mentioned this, because the more relevant point is that the Cubs' bats have finally returned to form...for one day, at least. In a remarkably important game for the Cubs and all those who care for the Cubs and anything Cub related, the Cubs decided not to roll over. But it didn't seem like that's the way things were going.

You see, Jason Marquis was bad. He had no control and, when he did find the strike zone, he only found the center of the plate. This lead to a very quick five run deficit and the hope that Lou would go to the bullpen. But Lou was committed to Marquis insofar as that he didn't want to go to his bullpen (much as I rarely attempt to put out a fire with gasoline. Very rarely, in fact). And so I had given up on this game. I was sure that this was one more painful game to endure in which the Cubs' bats slept and the opponents bats rocked. Not fun to watch certainly and extremely depressing to consider.

But things didn't go down that way. At first, it was just a small rally. A few hits and a few walks led to a couple of runs. Hardly anything exciting, but certainly a small ray of hope. I mean, we were back into a save situation which, as we all know, means the game was undecided. And Jason Marquis was settling down, allowing for some heroics from everyone's favorite leadoff hitter. With one out in the forth, Soriano took a low, outside fastball to the opposite field and the game was tied. For some reason, I just knew he was going to do this. I'm pretty sure it's because I'm psychic. In fact, I'm very psychic and very powerful. You should fear me.

And then we had a ballgame. The Cubs and Marlins traded homers, with the Marlins winning the tale of the tape (if you will) as Dan Uggla's homer travelled somewhere in the realm of 600 feet and the game was still tied at 6-6. And then it was in the bottom of the 7th, as the Northwestern head coach watched on, that Mike Fontenot played the hero. The Marlins made the classic blunder of walking Darryl Ward to get to Scrappy Mike and he made them pay, clearing the bases with a double. It was ever so exciting.

And then it was Samardzjia time (did I spell that right? I didn't look it up). He truly has amazing stuff with an electric, tailing fastball and an excellent split finger and solid command. Maybe he's just hot right now, but I'll take it. The Marlins had no chance against The Big S and it was game over. The Cubs won and 9-6 and the Brewers and Cardinals lost and we're all happy. Go Cubs.

I'm excited about Samardzjia, sure, but it's nothing compared to Lou. In his postgame conference, Lou showed the rosy cheeked exuberance of a school girl whenever the name Samardzjia came up. He gushed about his poise, looking off into the distance at something only he could see. As far as Non-Sexual Man Crushes go, we've got a doozie going on here on the North Side.

So, the Cubs win. Ramirez, Lee, and Soriano are starting to emerge and the Cubs took more pitches today. They'll need all that going into Milwaukee for a four game set.

Go Cubs.


Game recaps: Marlins 3, Cubs 2


Cub Fish



Cub Fish 2


The Cubs are, as a team, slumping horrifically right now.  The Brewers have caught them in the standings, hardened Cub fans everywhere have returned to the realm of panic (properly known as Japanic, lame joke), and Cubs bloggers such as myself now have sick stomachs whenever we think about this shoddy offensive play.

Let's observe the facts.  Since July 13, the Cubs have gone 3-7.  In their 7 losses, the Cubs have scored 10 runs.  10 runs!   This from an offense that could shake water off a tree, it's supposedly so mighty!  Lou has got to be livid, Cub fans have got to be panicking, and suddenly with just a few days before the trade deadline, one can't help but wonder if Jim Hendry isn't trying to find a way to squeeze in a big bat into an already theoretically-potent lineup.

The pitching has mostly been there.  In these 7 losses, the Cubs have been outscored 27-10 - that's an ERA below 4.  Their opponents have beaten them by 2 or fewer runs 5 times.  The timely hitting has vanished, the plate discipline has waned, and the Cubs have looked ugly.

Now, the part where I say don't panic:

Don't panic.  Unless you want to convince me that something has suddenly happened to the offense where they have returned to normal - do you really want to argue that this is normal? - then perhaps you shouldn't worry too much.  Do you really think the Cubs, as a team, will always leave 11 men on base every game?  Do you think that the Lees, Ramirezes, Sorianos, Sotos, and even the Edmondses of the team will fail to deliver?

If, as a team, the Cubs continue to post a sub-4 ERA the rest of the season, then I don't think they will have much to worry about.  Even as the Brewers look good and ahve charged, I remain unconvinced that they will be able to keep up with the sheer firepower of the Cubs for the remaining two months of the season.

However, don't get me wrong.  I'm still sick to my stomach.  I'm anxious to see this team pull it together and lay the hammer on a few of their opponents.  In a day's time, they'll be in Milwaukee battling it out in a 4-game set with big implications.  But, me, I'm going to give them minimally 2 more weeks of shoddy play before I really start slapping that big, red, glowing, tempting panic button.  mmm, such an attractive hue.  Must ... slap ...

Ahem.  Nothing to see here.  Go Cubs. 


Game Recap: Cubs 6, Marlins 3; die Fish


Fish Cubs


I've come to realize in recent months just how much I hate the Marlins.  I suppose that a similar hatred is felt toward the Padres by Cub fans of a certain generation.

For that reason, I'm always somewhat nervous when the Cubs play Florida.  The Marlins have had a nasty tendency to beat Chicago as of late, and to sometimes beat them badly, but last night was an exception to that new rule.  

The Alfonso Soriano led-off offense scored 6 runs on 8 hits and 4 walks.  Soriano himself went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk, although I remain unconvinced that he's going to be slump free upon his return.  The Cubs also had 2 homeruns, both from unlikely players - Ronny Cedeno and Henry Blanco.   Aramis Ramirez is trying hard to best out of his clueless slump by going 2 for 4 with a double and 2 RBI.  Oh, and Carlos Zambrano went 1 for 2 with a double.  He's batting .356 on the season and I will shortly have to break out the Zambino photoshop again.

Speaking of the Big Moose, Carlos went 7 innings, giving up 6 hits, walking 0, and striking out 6.  His shoulder concerns appear to be a thing of the past, as he was allowed to throw an absurd 125 pitches.  

Most important on the pitching front was Carlos Marmol, who came into the game in the 8th inning with 2 men on and 2 outs and struck out Willingham to escape the danger.  He then decided that he liked the danger, and in Rod Beck fashion he came back in the 9th and walked the bases loaded before striking out Wes Helms to end the game.  The difference is that when Beck would allow 3 men to get on base in the 9th, he'd look as though he was bored with it while he calmly struck out the last batter to end the game.  When Marmol does it, he looks like he's on the brink of soiling himself, or at the very least, of vomiting.

That evokes the question - What does Carlos Marmol need in order to handle closing?  The answer: it Depends.  

"It Depends," get it?  It's a pune, or play on words. Y'know, because Depends is the brand name for adult diapers.  Pretty funny, right?  Anybody?  Anybody laughing at all?   No?  Crap.

Game Recap: Cubs 10, D-Backs 6, What the?


Cubs - Backs


Perhaps the Cubs are confused by this all-or-nothing approach they've been taking to baseball as of late.  They seem to score either 1 run or 10, with little compromise to meet that figure somewhere in the middle.  Last night was a perfect example - after 2 games of offensive druthers, the Cubs scored often, and had a particularly impressive 8th inning in which they scored 6.

They did everything they needed to do.  The Cubs delivered 10 base hits, including homeruns by Derrek Lee and Reed Johnson.  Knowing that his play-time was about to get Duboised, Johnson went ballistic against the 'backs, going 3 for 4 with 4 RBI from his 8th inning Grand Slam.  More importantly, the Cubs as a team drew 5 walks.  At this point, it's safe to say that plate discipline has indeed been an important aspect of the runs this team has scored and the wins they've collected.

Oh, and did we mention that Soriano is back?  He went 1 for 5 in his return, with a double.  Don't get too excited, though.  I will be shocked if he doesn't struggle for at least a week or too.

Meanwhile, Ted Lilly pitched 6 strong innings, allowing 6 hits, walking 3 en route to his 10th win of the season.  His performance would have been for nothing had the Cubs not scored an awful lot of runs in the top of the 8th, as the D-Backs thrust the fork even deeper into Bob Howry, who gave up 3 runs in the bottom half of that inning.

Lou Piniella must have been at his wits end.  The Cubs had a 4-run lead, he clearly was afraid that they'd somehow blow such a close score, and so he called on his super-arm, Carlos Marmol.  Luckily, Marmol buckled down and was able to hold onto that fragile lead, although he gave up a double and a walk before he struck out Chad Tracy to end the game.

Series Recap: Another tough series on the road for the Cubs.  It has become an epidemic for them, and it has to be concerning for any post season hopes.  While it's certainly possible - if not likely - that the Cubs will get there, they have to have the ability to win on the road.

Maybe it's true that they have been stealing signs at home.  Perhaps they've become a little too dependent on it.  Or, maybe their hitting coach should do his job and help guys figure out how to hit.  Just a few thoughts.

Current Record: 59-42
Position in the NL Central:
1st place, 1 games in front of Milwaukee
On Pace For: 95-67
Record needed to win 120: 61-0 - undefeated all the way, baby!




Game Recap: D-Backs 9, Cubs 2 (or Holy Crap, Hurry Back Soriano!)

Cubs D Backs

Alright, so, the vast majority of people will give you some kind of lecture about how you either shouldn't panic or, if you haven't panicked by now, you're an idiot. Here at Goat Riders, we don't like to lecture. Panic if you like; don't panic. Whatever. Me? I'm taking the "crippling depression" approach. I'm just going to go ahead and curl up in the South-East corner of my apartment and cover my head with a book and wait for this all to blow over.

I'm firmly in denial about the entire Cubs team being in a slump. Aramis is OhForTheSecondHalf, Derrek is still on pace for a very unpleasant record involving double plays and hitting into them, and...um, I don't know. Everyone else is sucking? Actually, that's not true. Theriot and Fontenot have been quite hot in the second half and Fukudome has been heating up in Arizona. But when Theriot and Fontenot are your carriers of hope, you are likely doomed. DOOMED!

But then you look on the bright side (because that's how one gets through the day when the night is filled with Cub baseball). Aramis has an OPS of 048. Zero point Four Eight. And his batting average? Zero. But he's not been the only one depressing this lineup. Lee is sporting a solid 333 OPS, DeRosa 591, and Soto 106. In fact, if you took all the production from Lee, Ramirez, and Soto and added it all together, you wouldn't quite have a Neifi. That's the type of production that will get you a 1-4 start and that's the type of production that will dissolve a lead.

Wait, wasn't there supposed to be a bright side? Ah yes, the bright side. The bright side (stop saying bright side) is that this obviously won't continue. Team-wide slumps like this happen (we previously called them "The 2006 Chicago Cubs") and there's not much anyone can do about it. Hits tend to come in streaks and that means there will be streaks of nothingness which will, on occasion, overlap. But this little period of slumpiness will come to an end for some of these players (and soon, please) and then the runs will start to rise again. And if the pitching remains as good as it's been, the wins will return as well. Add to that the return of Soriano, and our pain will soon come to a close. We can go back to the lineup that's been so successful, platoon Edmonds and Johnson, and re-solidify our defense.

Oh yeah, this was supposed to be a game recap. Well, there's really nothing to say. Fukudome and Theriot had a couple of hits and Hart needs to go back to the minors. Lee left five on base. Ward hit a solo homer. Blah.

The game was incredibly lame and at no point did I think the Cubs had a chance. Whee!

Cubs play tonight at 8:40. Even if Lilly can murder the Diamondbacks and fashion their skin into an evening wear collection, it's not going to matter if the Cubs can't score some runs. So, again I say, hurry back Alfonso.


And Go Cubs.

Series Preview: Cubs vs. D-Backs; Game Recap: D-Backs 2, Cubs 0

As happens from time to time when people get busy, we failed to deliver unto you a timely preview or recap.  Hell, we're only 3 hours away from the second game of the series and you still don't know the Cubs chances because we haven't written about it yet!!  I know!  It's crazy!

Let's do it in the reverse this time - we'll recap yesterday's game and then preview the pending twofer.

Game Recap: Arizona 2, Cubs 0

Cubs Backs

If Randy Johnson only pitched against the Cubs in his career, he would certainly have a better record than Cy Young.  He has, does, and always will own the Cubs.  Even in this, a season in which Johnson has clearly lost whatever he had that made him great, and, more importantly, a season in which the Cubs have one of the best teams in recent memory, and El Gordo Unito still dominates.  So much for my clearly optimistic photoshop of Johnson as a human punching bag:


Big Unit


Once you discount the fact that the Cubs lost and were made to look like tools, it was a pretty good game.  Rich Harden stepped in and, without an apparent pitch count, threw 112 pitches in 7 innings, giving up a solitary hit, walking 2, and striking out 10.   Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lone hit against Harden was one which landed in a mass of bodies, and that was enough for the Cubs to lose.

Oh, also, Bob Howry has continued to prove himself irreverent.  He had another shoddy outing in the 9th.  Chad Gaudin, the Cubs are calling your number.  Please step up to the set-up role.

Tuesday, July 22nd, Jason Marquis (6-5, 4.44 ERA) vs. Yusmeiro Petit (0-1, 3.06 ERA)

Want to hear something strange?  When I looked to the upcoming schedule and saw the name "Marquis," I had a sick feeling in my stomach.  Somehow, a part of me had forgotten Marquis is a Cub.  To see him scheduled to pitch tonight was a tremendous disappointment.  You know, had I been the guy scheduling the rotation, I would have flipped Marquis with Harden.  You know from experience that it's going to be tough beating Randy Johnson, why waste Harden's arm on a heart-breaker?  Anyway, Marquis is trying to carry momentum into this start, although he may have trouble doing so as I expect that he's shocked to learn that he has momentum.  The Big Jason won 4 games last month to only 1 loss, while compiling an ERA of 4.91.  So far in July, Marquis is 0-1 but with a 1.29 ERA as, like Lilly, he has found it hard to win games when his team has scored an average of 1 run per start.  

Yusmeiro Petit, on the other hand, is one in a long line of pitchers who have both silly names and the ability to wipe that smile off your face real quickly.  Petit is a young pitcher with a career ERA of 5.61, and in particular, through 17.2 innings of work this year his ERA is 3.06.  He's only walked 1 guy to 11 strikeouts, he was pretty damn good in his only start this year, and ESPN says that his name is pronounced "Puh-TEET." 

Wednesday, July 23rd, Ted Lilly (9-6, 4.49 ERA) vs. Doug Davis (3-4, 4.14 ERA)

Theodore Roosevelt Lilly looks to win his 10th game of the year against Doug Davis, who shockingly just isn't pitching up to the level he delivered against the Cubs last October.  Davis is neither overpowering nor even particularly effective these days, and the Cubs offense needs to wake up Dr. Phil style and take him to town tomorrow in order to compensate for the castration delivered to them by Randy Johnson last night.  (Castrated by a "Randy Johnson?"  Oh, sweet irony!)

Lilly has yet to win a game this month, although his ERA has been a reasonable 4.04 through 3 starts.  If you pretend that the July 10th game against the Reds never happened*, then you may observe that Lilly has pitched pretty well this month, but has received next-to-no run support from the Cubs offense.

(*Note: it's probably not a good thing when you have to flat-out pretend that five or six of your pitcher's starts simply never happened.  Not exactly the biggest lender of confidence.)

Predictions: The Cubs really need to get their offense into gear.  It's a sad, shameful day when a 44 year old man with no cartilage in his knee can make your team look that bad, but Randy Johnson did it.  Maybe we should just accept that the Cubs can not, and never will beat the Big Unit, or maybe we should be worried about a team that has scored exactly 2 runs in 3 of the 4 games played since the All Star Break.

It's hard to put my faith in the arm of Jason Marquis.  You might as well ask me to flush myself down the toilet.  But the Cubs are only holding a 2-run lead in the Central, and with the bitterly despised Marlins coming up on the schedule, a little momentum would be a nice thing.  So, you know, maybe they should just buckle down and blow out the D-Backs tonight on the back of a Marquis shut-out.   And maybe moneybags will fall from the sky.  Anything's possible.

Game Recap: Cubs 9, Astros 0 - that's more like it

Cubs Win

If we take a look at the final tally of this series in Houston, we will find that the Cubs outscored the Astros 11-6 but still managed to lose 2 of 3 games. It was clearly a frustrating series for Lou Piniella, as he commented after yesterday's game that the Cubs were pretty miserable on the road, at least offensively. For that reason, Lou must have decided that the only true way to retaliate would be in the usual manner - punishing Carlos Marmol by pitching him in a blowout. But hey, after all the beatings the Cubs have been taking, we'll take any kind of win, even if it's a tear-inducing one for Marmol who has to be frustrated by the overuse and abuse he's experienced this season.

Offensively, the Cubs jumped out of the gate quickly thanks to the bat of the overrated Derrek Lee (just ask one of our readers) who went 2 for 5 with 3 RBI. Actually, while it is always nice watching Lee swing the bat well, Kosuke Fukudome is the most important story of the game, at least for me. Our Japanese sensation has looked redonkulous the last few weeks, but he had a respectable day today, getting 2 hits and scoring 2 runs. It'll still be a while before he's officially busted out of his mid-season druthers, but I'm convinced he's capable.

Today's most depressing offensive performance came from Aramis Ramirez. I think that, as Cub fans, we have to better appreciate the fact that, when he's hitting the ball, Ramirez can be just as devastating as Alfonso Soriano. However, like the Fonz, A-Ram can get ice-cold sometimes, too, and he's had some legendary slumps in the past couple of seasons. Take his 0-for-28 streak he had earlier this year, which lasted from June 25th until July 5th. Or his 0-for-14 streak which went from the last game of the regular season last year all the way through the playoffs. Currently, he's in the throws of an 0-for-16 streak. Youch.

However, as Ramirez struggles, growing Cub legend Mike Fontenot had a 3 for 4 day, including a solo homerun in the 5th and a 2-run double in the 9th. Apparently, Fontenot uncovered the secret location of the head of Ted Williams and underwent a brain transplant not too long ago. Or he could just have reached that mythical point in his baseball career where he has the exact right mixture of confidence, ability, and intelligence. Enjoy it while it lasts, Cub fans, be it a year, a month, or a week. Little Babe Ruth is winning games for this team with his bat.

The one mildly concerning offensive fact of today's game: 0 walks. The Cubs drew a collective 1 walk in the last 3 games; maybe it's not too surprising that they didn't exactly set Houston on fire with the fury of their offense.

On the pitching front, Ryan Dempster looked his 0-win road record square in the eye and landed a hard surprise-kick straight in its nads. He went 8 solid innings, giving up only 6 hits and 1 walk while striking out 7. Oh, and did we mention that Carlos Marmol came in to pitch the 9th and delivered a clutch, much-needed 1-2-3 inning to end the game? Yep, the Cubs needed that, as their lead on Houston was tenuous at best. F*****g Lou.

Series Recap: A very brief one because I've got about ten other things I want to do before I go to bed tonight. The Cubs could very well enter the playoffs with the best record in the National League. They could lead all of baseball in runs scored, their pitching could buckle down and put up on of the best ERAs in the game this year, and if they continue to lose regularly on the road, then a World Series victory - not to mention a losing appearance, for that matter - will remain a vague concept to be dreamt of for future seasons.

Current Record: 58-40
Position in the NL Central:
1st place, 2 games in front of St. Louis
On Pace For: 96-66
Record needed to win 120: 62-2


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