A Sign of Life
Well, you can't win them all, in our case you can win 73 though.
While I'm not about to drain my bank account and bet my life savings on the flea-bitten horse at the back of the pack, there is no doubt that yesterday was a big win. Significant? Perhaps. It shows that we can have the measure of the Cardinals and beat them, although when you lose games to the Rockies, Diamondbacks and Reds, beating the NL's best team a couple of time doesn't hold as much weight.
Regardless, where some players have found little comfort at the plate recently, others found their stroke again. Derrek Lee clubbed two home runs, one against Mark "Fox" Mulder, the other against Brad "Corky" Thompson. Ramirez snagged a couple of RBIs, and Corey did his best "fuck you LB" impression, weighing in with a 3-4 night, an RBI, 2 R and a walk! Holy shit, he might make the cereal box after all!
The important thing to remember is that this game could have turned out very differently. Let's not forget that the Cardinals opened the scoring with 1 out in the 1st, as Pudgels slapped a 2-run home run into deep center field. Normally, when this phenomenon occurs, the Cubs curl up into submission like Rick Moranis, preferring to wave the white flag immediately rather than fighting back. Yesterday, the Cubbies had some punch, and they rode Mulder out of the game after 4 shitty innings. Not bad from a man who hadn't lost since June 22.
Conversely, the bedraggled and hungover-looking Greg Maddux, a man whose statistics had not seen the sweet nectar of W since July 10, pitched a wobbly but steadfast complete game for the win, allowing 12 hits and 4 runs while striking out 5 and issuing no free passes. It was good for his confidence and for the team, but I would have loved to see our bullpen try and get through those last 3 innings. Greg did his homework and pitched a solid game, needing 114 pitches (87 strikes) to get through the Missouri Madams.
So what, if anything, did this game highlight, and what, if anything, can we predict about where things go from here? Also, as a follow-up question: how wrong will I ultimately be on both counts?
1. Our hitters are in fact alive.
The Cubs put up 16 hits against the miserable triplets of Mulder, Thompson and Eldred. Four doubles, 2 home runs, and 4 2-out RBIs. The 4th Inning was the turning point -- with 2 uneventful outs, Macias and Neifi notched singles before Lee hit his first HR. It's moments like that, making something out of nothing, that can make or break a ballclub, and the Cubs worked a nip of magic to forcibly wrest the game from the Cardinals' grasp.
2. Maddux has still got some gas in the tank.
I've seen many column inches in various "publications" crying about Maddux's degeneration (as if he'd just bought a condo at Del Boca Vista) and that he should consider riding gracefully into the sunset in search of cheap slots and early bird Salisbury Steak.
Before yesterday, he hadn't won in a month, but he was as much a victim of his miserly offense than his shaky control. In those 5 starts, Mad Dog put up the following numbers:
32 IP, 34 H, 15 ER, 6 BB, 19 K
In fact, to further illustrate my point, here are the game-by-game lines:
Jul. 16 vs. PIT
8 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, BB, 6 K
Jul. 21 @ CIN
5 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 4 K
Jul. 26 vs. SF
8 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Jul. 31 vs. ARI
4 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, BB, K
Aug.6 @ NYM
7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
Those are not, with the exception of the Diamondbacks game, bad lines at all. And Maddux deserves blame for giving up 2 runs in 8 innings against the Giants? I defy Randy Johnson or Schilling or Pedro or whoever else to do better. If yr team can't score 2 or 3 runs in a game, no blame should fall on the pitcher. Maddux is our best right now given the injuries and blah blah blah, and if he gets attacked as a result of our losing streak, then no-one is safe.
3. Corey Patterson and Jose Macias are not "The Answer."
Give me some credit for still finding a place to sneak criticism of this duo into every post. In fact, I'll try and make it my mission, so who knows. Regardless, sure sure Corey went 3-4 and Jose went 2-5 with a run and Corey walked once and knocked in a run and bfqqfq;ufibfpqsfjbpiuf IT DOESN'T MATTER. Great, they achieved these god-like feats in an 8-run win, but let's see them do it in the bottom of the 9th, down by 1 with men on 2nd and 3rd. Maybe this is being too harsh, but when yr kicking the shit out of a team for 9 innings, everyone eventually gets a piece. Even Nomar got a little when the Redbirds' tails started to sag a little, so let's not get out the champagne and start rebuilding out Pattercias shrines again.
It'll take more than 5 hits in a blowout win to convince me that either of them are capable of doing the everyday job.
STL: RHP Jason Marquis • 9-10, 4.24 ERA in 2005 • 1-1, 3.32 ERA vs. CHC in 2004
CHC: RHP Carlos Zambrano • 8-5, 3.30 ERA in 2005 • 1-0, 1.02 ERA vs. STL in 2005
I'm buying this one on MLB.TV. I love watching the Big Z take on the Cardinals. You never know what yr getting from him on any given day: 3 disappointing innings, a complete game shutout, a shirt-tearing ejection for fighting with the reserve umpire - there's just no telling. In previous starts he's faced Carpenter and eclipsed him like Fred Durst obscured his backing group, and the Cards have learned their lesson. Instead, a somewhat timid sacrificial offering for the hungry Bull is the competent, middle-of-the-road Marquis. Not known for his mound pyrotechnics, Marquis represents the Cardinals to a tee: emotionless, calm, reserved, even-handed and plain.
Zambrano thrives off the big occasions, so maybe this is a shrewd move on LaRussa's part not to put his ace against the Cubs' ace where he can prove himself. Having said that, I'll never give LaRussa credit for anything, so I prefer to think he's scared. I'm thinking another Cubs win, and it might be a close one. I won't expect Corey to get the game-winning, 2-out RBI single.
Perhaps more during the game later, but in the meantime, anyone remember the intimate Red Sox picture I posted a while back? It showed a rare glimpse into the inner tenderness that Manny and Ortiz, Beantown's Best, share with one another. However, the Yankees will be the Yankees, and their stars Derek Jeter and Sheffield had to try and one-up their New England rivals. Which couple has more love? Which pair has the Cialis difference? Whose loving dream reigns supreme? You decide.
Boston's Entry in the Tenderness Sweepstakes
New York's counterpoint