I recall hearing a statistic at some point that 75% of double headers are split between both teams. I am not sure if that is true or not, but today it held true to form. The sad part about the day was that the Cubs could have won both games. The happy part about the day was that they also could have lost both games. The rapturous part of the day was that with their split today, the Cubs have won two out of the first three against the Cardinals and have virtually ended their hopes for reaching the playoffs.
The First Game
Lou went with an interesting line up in the first game:
I think it is somewhat interesting that Lou went with the “weaker” lineup in the morning game, due to the fact that it seemed that Cardinals pitcher Braden Looper had such stronger numbers in day games…although the Cubs did play a night game last night.
Ted Lilly started the game in a rough fashion giving up two runs in the first on a Jim Edmonds double. He settled down after that and pitched six strong innings giving up no more runs and only four hits total. The bullpen was great all day today. Wood, Marmol, and Dempster pitched the seventh, eight and, ninth innings. Kerry Wood got his first win in over a year and Dempster threw a 1,2,3 ninth inning for the save.
As I was watching and listening to the game I was thinking that the headline might be about whether or not Alfonso Soriano is doing more to help or hurt the team. Then he steps to the plate in the eighth inning down 2-1. He hits a two run homer to give the Cubs the lead and the eventual win. The Cubs bats were pretty silent only getting five hits in the game.
The Second Game
The second game was a game of missed opportunities. The Cubs jumped on Joel Pineiro early. So much so that Tony LaRussa was ready to pull him from the game in the third inning. For the Cards, it was a good thing that he didn’t because from the point on he retired 15 straight batters until he left the game in the seventh.
Early on the Cubs were hitting Pineiro hard. They scored one in the first on a Ramirez single and two in the second on another Alfonso Soriano home run. In both the first and second innings the Cubs had runners thrown out at the plate. The Cubs also could not drive Derrek Lee home from third base with only one out in the third inning.
Sean Marshall was bad…I think sealing his fate on a potential playoff roster. The Cardinals stranded the bases loaded in the first and two runners in the second. The turning point of the game came in the third. Sean Marshall struck out Ryan Ludwick on a pitch in the dirt. Jason Kendall made a bonehead play. Instead of waiting of Derrek Lee to make it to first and throw a hard throw to him, he led him to the base with a lob throw in the dirt. Lee could not handle the bounce and the inning fell apart from there. There were walks and doubles and triples, and on and on. Four runs scored, Marshall was pulled from the game. And the scoring was over for the night.
Marshall’s gruesome numbers:
2.2 IP 6H 4R 2ER 3BB (3+ WHIP)
Kerry Wood pitched well again in the second game as did Ohman, Hart, and Eyre.
The Cubs look to take the series tomorrow. There seems to be a thought that 4 wins was what the Cubs wanted from this trip and that tomorrow’s game is icing. But with the Brewers win tonight there is again only a one game lead in the division.
A look ahead at the next week sees the Cubs at home to play the Reds for three, finally getting a day off on Thursday and then a weekend series with the Pirates…their final home games of the regular season. The Brewers finish up against the Reds tomorrow and then go on the road to play the Astros and Braves. On a seemingly good note, the Brewers do not have a day off for the rest of the season and sit two behind the Cubs in the win column…in other words they have played two less games and have as many losses as the Cubs have.
If you’re looking for an outside team to cheer for think about the Phillies. If they stay strong that means the Padres will be playing for the wild card spot in the final four games of the year when the Brewers travel to San Diego.