I’ll be honest. I was counting the minutes until this series ended. It’s bad enough when your team can’t win. It’s even worse when your team can’t win in your nemesis’ ballpark, full of their obnoxious fans (not giving a pass to Cubs fans either, there are plenty of obnoxious Cubs fans around as well). And it’s even way worse than that when your “ace” (HA!) explodes on his own teammates within the first hour of the series, ensuring your team is the laughingstock of the neighborhood all weekend long. Can’t end quickly enough for me. Please don’t think I’m putting the Cubs down. Quite the opposite, actually. I’m more a fan of them this weekend than I have been in awhile. I think it’s the hurt puppy dog syndrome. I feel bad for them. They’ve hit rock bottom.
True to form, the Cubs did absolutely nothing offensively early in the game. Also true to form, the opposing team took advantage of a shaky first inning from Dempster and the Cubs found themselves down two by 1:30CT. Dempster has a 5.40 ERA in first innings this season, 3.25 in subsequent innings. This in itself really wouldn’t be that bad, except that this year it’s hard enough for the Cubs to win any games, let alone those in which they find themselves down by a few runs early in the game.
And then, something happened. The tide turned somehow. Probably had something to do with Tyler Colvin’s three run homer, that didn’t hurt. But they looked different to me all day. I saw them laughing in the dugout. I saw them NOT trying to hit a home run on every pitch. Some took walks. Some just gave us a little single. Some came through in bigger ways. And it all added up to a win.
My commentary after past wins, particularly recently, has not always been favorable. I had gotten to the point where I was almost disappointed when they would squeak out a win on the third game of every series because I thought the only way things would ever change is if they got even worse. But this game was different, at least for me. This game gave me some hope. I don’t think this is the beginning of the road to the playoffs. I’m not drinking kool-aid. My hope for the Cubs for the rest of the season, is that they can play respectable baseball, recover from whatever angst they’ve been suffering, and complete the season with teammates who support each other when things go well, as well as when things go badly. If we can have that, I will be happy, and we’ll move on. I understand this will probably cause the competitive folks among us to cringe. But sometimes, the atmosphere is important too. I want them to hold their heads up and know they did their best. Regardless of whether the above-mentioned obnoxious fans think they did or not.
Enough holding hands and singing Kumbaya. Here are some of my game notes.
- Really great game for Tyler Colvin (not to mention he was my BTS pick and I’m now sporting an impressive score of 1! Yay me!) Colvin went 3 for 5 with 4 RBIs and it was his 3-run homer in the 3rd that gave the Cubs their first taste of positivity in some time.
- Geovany Soto also had a good game offensively (3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored) after going 0-3 yesterday.
- Alfonso Soriano was also impressive. He went 1-for-2 with an un-Soriano-ish two walks, scoring twice and driving in one run. I also saw him hustle more than once in the outfield. Pair this with yesterday’s two doubles and that amounts to two straight days of hustle. Even a hater like me has to give a pat on the back to that. And I’m not kidding. He’s really doing well among a group of others who aren’t.
- Not so great game for Jeff Baker. Three strikeouts and a double play. He’s probably glad this day is over.
- Interesting play in 2nd inning which reminds me that CubbieDude is going to teach me about obstruction in one of his columns sometime soon. Dempster’s first inning woes may have continued into the 2nd had it not been for Gordon Beckham standing in Soto’s way as he attempted to throw out Alexei Ramirez stealing second. Ramirez was safe on the play but called out because of Beckham’s interference with the play. Dempster owes that guy a beer!
- Xavier Nady, along with contributing next to nothing offensively this series, plays a tentative first base. I like Nady, a lot, and he’s a serviceable backup at first, but he always looks like he’s afraid he’s going to get stepped on or hit. He whips his foot off that base like it shocks him or something and it always looks uncomfortable to me.
- Marmol went ahead and made himself a mess to get out of, giving up 3 runs on 2 hits and 3 walks and giving Cubs fans everywhere a collective heart attack before finding the strike zone.
- Was kind of hoping Brian Schlitter would get into the game. One of the saddest bits of fallout from the whole Zambrano debacle involved Jeff Stevens, who ended up being sent down not because he deserved it, not because he pitched badly, but simply because they needed an arm that wasn’t tired. Brian Schlitter was the beneficiary. And in my typical fashion of trying to find the humor in any situation, I got myself a good little laugh thinking about the announcers while they tiptoe around Brian’s name. Have to admit when I first saw it in print I really had to give it a good look to see that mid-stream L in there. Heh.
- Did any of us REALLY want that BP cup anyway? Glad they have it. Maybe by next year it will find itself another sponsor and then we can win it back!
Have a good night. And buck yourselves up for Pittsburgh tomorrow. No pun intended!
First Star: Tyler Colvin
Second Star: Carlos Quentin
Third Star: Ryan Dempster
Honorable Mention: Derrek Lee