A whole lot to be happy about with this one. I don’t think you could have scripted the win any better. Everything went right for this team and then find themselves on the cusp of not only sweeping someone, but having that someone be a division rival. Just a few days ago that would be considered unthinkable.
First Star: Ted Lilly (.379 WPA)
Second Star: Marlon Byrd (.156 WPA)
Third Star: Carlos Zambrano (.092 WPA)
- Ted Lilly was just plain awesome considering the fact that not only did he come back after just two minor league starts, but he’s also back earlier than the early to mid-May timetable we were originally given. He started out a little rusty with his command and left a good amount of pitches up in the zone. That had me worried when I looked at my lineup card and kept reading the names Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder coming up. They couldn’t take advantage of the wildness early and Lilly kicked it into gear from there to go six strong, while not allowing a run. He completely dismantled Fielder’s game at the plate, striking the big fella out all three times he came to the plate. Lilly wasn’t overpowering, but he did show shades of brilliance with the curveball and pitched far better than you could’ve expected. His contract is up at the end of the year and Len mentioned in the broadcast that it’s been one of the better contracts for both sides that Jim Hendry has signed via free agency. There is no question in my mind that I want Lilly on this ball club next year.
- Carlos Zambrano made his debut out of the pen tonight and didn’t fail in stealing the spotlight. Coming into the game in the 7th, Zambrano was immediately thrust into a situation that Lou envisions him helping out in. After John Grabow wet the bed, Zambrano came in to get Ricky Weeks out on a check swing grounder on two pitches. He came up and in on Weeks who couldn’t keep the bat back and made contact to end the inning. The show stealing part, as if his one at bat relief appearance in the 7th wasn’t enough, came in the form of comic relief and clutch insurance. Coming up to hit in the 8th, Zambrano hit a deep drive to right field that scored an insurance run. The funny thing was the fact that as Z was following through on his swing, he came out of his shoe….literally. His shoe was left in the box and Zambrano ran to first. Overall, the outing for Zamrano was acceptable. He did give up a run, which is not what you want to see, but I have to believe that may have been due to the fact that he had a decent lead to work with. The pressure was off at that point. When it was on in the 7th, he did the job and I think you grade day 1 as a success.
- You can bash Soriano for continuing to hop, as some have, but the fact of the matter is that he’s one of the few .300+ hitters on the roster right now. He grabbed another hit today and also reached base on an error by Casey McGehee. I think we need to lay off him as well as Geo Soto for awhile. Both players, especially Geo, have played a lot better than they did last year so far this season. Geo just looks locked in at the plate and seems so much more patient this year in his approach. I’ve gone from cringing when he comes to the plate to looking forward to watching him take his at bats. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him moved up to the 7th or even 6th spot in the order real soon if his hot hitting continues.
- Aramis Ramirez snapped an 0-for-21 streak tonight with an RBI single in the 6th and suddenly it was all love for him in the booth. I wouldn’t go that far, but we need Ramirez to start hitting. It doesn’t show up in the box score, but his first at bat just missed being a homerun to deep center by about 10 feet. I think his bat is going to come around and come around real soon. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a big game tomorrow night against Jeff Suppan, despite his career struggles against him.
- Bob Brenly mentioned something I’ve thought of quite a few times in the 7th inning. Lou sent Ted Lilly up to the plate with the sole purpose of laying down a sac bunt. He already had it in the plans to pull Lilly after the at bat in favor of a reliever and Lilly failed to get the bunt down. Why not, in that situation, use Ryan Dempster to get the bunt down. Lilly looked horrible at the plate all night and Demp is one of the best in the business at laying down a bunt. I’d have used him instead in that situation.
- Did you know that Zambrano has just six walks taken in his entire career? That’s over 600 plate appearances and just six freakin walks. Couple that with 206 K’s and you’ve got a crazy ratio.
- Thumbs down to Xavier Nady for leaving the bases loaded in the 3rd against Doug Davis, who was on the ropes. You need to take advantage of those situations when you’re team is struggling and you’re charged with hitting 4th in the lineup.
- Holy cow was the Blackhawk’s game today, awesome. If you didn’t see it, you missed a crazy good finish.
We go for the sweep tomorrow against a pitcher that Brew Crew Ball considers “the textbook definition of atrocious.” I like our odds.