Cubs 3, Cardinals 0
What Went Right
- The Goatee – Who knows what Mike Quade actually said to Matt Garza, but whatever it was it seemed to work. With the bases loaded and just one out in the first inning, the Cubs manager made an early visit to the mound for a short conversation (or monologue as Mark Grace called it, repeatedly) with his starting pitcher. Garza then induced a 6-4-3 double play and didn’t look back from there. He would not find himself in serious trouble again until the 7th inning as he cruised to a shutout win. There is no denying that Garza has been the Cubs’ best starting pitcher this season, and his 6-9 record doesn’t reflect how well he has pitched for much of the year. He has been particularly strong in August, posting a 2-1 record with a sharp 1.82 ERA.
- 4th-Inning Cycle – Starlin Castro (single), Aramis Ramirez (home run), Carlos Peña (triple) and Marlon Byrd (double) combined to hit for the cycle for the Cubs in the fourth inning, providing all the offensive fireworks Garza would need on Saturday.
- Perfect Bullpen – My apologies to Colonel Hannibal Smith, but I love it when a plan comes together. The rotation on the mound for the Cubs today went exactly as you would have drawn it up back in April. Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood, and Carlos Marmol followed up Garza’s strong start by pitching two perfect innings and slamming the door shut on the Cardinals.
What Went Wrong
- Quiet bats – The Cubs had four hits in the fourth inning…and two hits in the other eight innings combined. If not for that stretch of five batters in the fourth, this looked eerily like a lot of other Garza starts this season with the Cubs providing him with little run support. Fortunately for the Cubs, all nine innings count towards the final score.
- The Cubs are now 13-5 in August bringing Mike Quade’s career record in the eighth month to 18-8. Well done Mike, well done.
- The Cubs will be looking to sweep the Cardinals at home on Sunday for the first time since April 2006. Much like this year, Chicago was terrible that summer. Also similar to this year, they capped the disastrous season by firing their manager.
- Mark Grace was in the booth today for Fox, and while he’s not the greatest announcer in the game, it was fun to hear him clearly having a good time being back in Chicago. I’m not sure that he completely redeemed himself for the awkward Justin Timberlake interview at the All-Star Game though.
- Thanks to MLB’s awesome blackout rules on their MLB.tv package, I got to enjoy this game on a three-hour delay. I found myself confused on a couple of occasions as to why it didn’t appear to be getting dark at Wrigley.
Aside from the bottom of the fourth inning, there wasn’t much action in this one. However, no matter what kind of season the Cubs are having, I’ll take a shutout win over the Cardinals any way we get it. Having an opportunity to push the Cards even further out of the playoff race makes it that much sweeter. Coupled with the Brewers win amidst an inferno at Citi Field, St. Louis is now 8 ½ games behind Milwaukee in the division race and an equal distance behind Atlanta for the Wild Card. As for the Cubs, don’t look now but they are just four games behind the Pirates, which is very exciting if you ignore that Pittsburgh has been playing like Pittsburgh for the last month.
Stars of the Game
Base on Win Probability Added (WPA)
1st Star – Matt Garza (.373 WPA)
2nd Star – Aramis Ramirez (.163WPA)
3rd Star – Geovany Soto (.051 WPA)