Cubs wash the Sox, Prior shows no restraint
The rubber game in the Crosstown Chicago series was always hanging delicately in the balance. With both teams tasting victory over the weekend, the stage was set nicely for a sunny Sunday afternoon at Comiskey, and it would take one man asserting himself to dictate just who would emerge the winner.
The man today was Mark Prior -- in his return from the DL with only simulated throwing sessions and warm-up pitching, Prior blanked the White Sox, giving up 1 hit over 6 stellar innings and giving the Cubs exactly what they needed to pull off the victory. His performance, coupled with a solo HR from Corey Patterson and a Todd Walker Sacrifice Fly, were enough to pull out a tense but terrific 2-0 win.
Jerome "Big Kahuna Burger" Williams pitched two innings of scoreless, hitless relief, and Dempster pitched out of a nervy 9th for his 11th save in a row.
Everyone knows how good Prior was yesterday -- in his 4 starts straight off the DL since 2004, he has not allowed a single run over 24 innings of work. This game was just like the rest, perplexing the potent Sox lineup with his two-seam fastball and breaking ball. Blanco called the shots, Prior fired true every time, and once again for the Cubs, things are looking up.
Taking 2 out of 3 from the league-best White Sox is no small achievement, but after a rough 2 weeks leading into this series, where the Cubs went 3-7 and were outscored 70-50, it was important for them to get a bit of momentum heading towards the All-Star break.
Not only that, but with the return of Kerry "Spaghetti" Wood, the rotation is back to full strength (I use that term tentatively). A stronger bullpen shuffles into line behind the return of its talismans, with possible moves putting Rusch back in the pen, or maybe Mitre, or both. With Dempster closing, Roberto "America's Favorite" Novoa in there for good measure, and then Jerome Williams making a case for the 5th starter role, you cannot count the Cubs out of the NL Central race or the Wild Card. The Cardinals have not been without problems, with a shaky rotation and recent injuries to vet OFs like Walker and Edmonds, not to mention Rolen's struggles coming back from an injured shoulder. I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but there is still hope for this season. A lot of hope.
I could get behind that lineup, without doubt. Add a lead-off man, and the rest of the NL will be shitting their pants, me thinks.
A day off follows before yet another series with the obstinate Milwaukee Brewers in town. Enough said.
MIL: LHP Doug Davis • 9-6, 4.44 ERA in 2005 • 1-0, 4.05 ERA vs. CHC in 2005
CHC: RHP Carlos Zambrano • 4-4, 4.27 ERA in 2005 • 1-2, 6.19 ERA vs. MIL in 2005
BLAH BLAH TRADING?
Back again, here I go on the Mark Kotsay trip. According to Ken Rosenthal (again), Kotsay could well sign a new contract with the Athletics, although it will not include a no-trade clause. Therefore, Kotsay's agent has gone on the record saying that a deal is unlikely, and this makes all the trade rumours surrounding his future rear up again. It is once again a matter of interest between different teams, and like before, while the Yankees are heavily interested, the Cubs apparently are as well, and we know that the Cubs have more to offer.