July 31st, 2007
| W – J. Marquis (8-6) L – A. Eaton (9-7) S – None
Homeruns: P. Burrell (14)
(AP Photo/Jerry Lai)
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I’ve heard a lot of people say that this stretch of games against the NL East is going to be a good indicator of how talented this team is. I’m not sure if I agree with that, but I think it IS vital to at least split these seven games 4-3 and very beneficial to take five of seven. If you take a look at the schedule down the stretch it’s very favorable to us. My focus for this team is to see them make the playoffs. I don’t care how we get there, wild card or division. Once we’re there, it’s anyone’s ballgame. We’ve seen the Golden State Warriors take down a juggernaut in the NBA. We’ve seen the Cardinals win the World Series with a record barely over .500. We’ve seen the Marlins win the title as a Wild Card team, twice. Once you get there, anything is possible.
I have the Extra Innings package, which allows me to watch the games. Unfortunately, you don’t get to choose your feed. There are times when I get the visiting team’s announcers and coverage. Most nights I don’t mind this. It’s kind of nice to be able to see what the opposing viewpoint is of the team. Last night was not one of those times. I’m probably stepping on toes for criticizing an old man, but Harry Kalas is brutal. He’s so incredibly monotone that I found myself drifting in the first inning. I know he’s a Hall of Famer, but something about his voice lulled me to sleep. I miss my Len and Bob. I really hope that is the feed I’ll get for tonight. If you heard the Phillies feed yesterday, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
What was most disappointing was that I was so out of it for a game that the Cubs played fairly well. They jumped out front in the first inning, which is so exciting to see. Nothing makes me happier than to see the team out front after one inning of play. It seems to set the tone for the rest of the game and gets the fans excited right from the get go. Last night, Soriano got it started on an infield single due to his speed. The very next play, Theriot’s speed comes into play on a bunt. I’m guessing the bunt was not to sacrifice. It seemed to be one that was designed to be for a hit. I really like when Theriot bunts. His speed always seems to cause the pitcher to rush his throw and make an error. Last night it allowed Soriano to move to third. Having the speed at the top of the order forces the pitcher to keep them in the back of his mind and not fully devote his focus to getting the hitter out. It reminds me a lot of the 2003 Marlins when they had Pierre and Castillo at the top of the order, without the stolen bases.
Jason Marquis showed up last night and gave the Cubs a quality start. That’s all I really ask of him at this point. Keep us in the game and give us six innings of work. If possible, help a little with the bat and then take a seat and let the pen take care of business. Jason did exactly that last night. The biggest blemishes on his night were the three walks and the blast off the bat of Pat Burrell. When it comes down to it, he picked up his 8th win of the year, which is beyond anything I could have expected from our 5th starter. I’m in the process of working on a piece for a rainy day (off day) that compares the number five starters from the past 10 world series winners to Jason Marquis. Hopefully it will be an encouragement to everyone who is a little uneasy about our rotation.
Jason Kendall is starting to show that he is coming out of the funk a little bit. He picked up a big two out single that scored Lee and Pagan in the 7th. It was the insurance the team needed to take any pressure off in the 8th and 9th. I’d like to see Kendall get the bulk of the catching duty down the stretch and then see the Cubs recall Geovany Soto on August 31st. I say the 31st, and not September 1st, when rosters expand, because it would allow Soto to be placed on the playoff roster. I would option one of our pitchers to make room for Soto and carry three catchers until September 1st, when we can recall bullpen help from the minors with the expansion of the rosters. I’m not a big fan of Koyie Hill, and I’m not sure why he made the cut over Rob Bowen. Bowen is a better catcher and I can’t figure out why people are so worried about losing Koyie Hill. He’s not a young prospect where you can say he may develop. This is what he is. He’s developed already. It’s time to wake up and realize that he’s not good. Get rid of him and let’s get Soto up here.
Jacque Jones came up big again. I’m so glad we kept him. Now I wish people would lay off him completely.
STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA