Cubs 7, Brewers 1
What Went Right
Garza’s Gem – Matt Garza, the undisputed ace of the Cubs’ staff this season, closed out his first season at Wrigley Field with one of his best performances of terrific season. Garza pitched his second complete game as a Cub striking out 10 and allowing only an unearned run in the third. Garza hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his last nine starts.
Offensive Output – The Cubs offense produced from the top of the lineup to the bottom with each starting position player tallying at least one hit. Soto led the way with three of his team’s 13 hits, including an RBI double that closed out the Cubs’ scoring for the day. Marlon Byrd hit the big blast of the day, pounding a Randy Wolf cutter into the left field bleachers for a 3-run homer in the 6th inning.
One More for the Road – With two hits, Starlin Castro put himself just one hit away from 200 with six games left to play. His hits came in the first three innings of the game but, thanks in part to two walks, he was unable to reach the milestone in front of the home crowd.
What Went Wrong
Castro’s Miscues – There wasn’t too much to complain about on a day when the Cubs recorded a six-run win over the NL Central Champs-in-waiting Brewers, but if I’m going to nitpick I have to point at two miscues by Castro in the early innings – one on the base paths and one in the field. He led off the game with a drive into the left field corner then attempted to stretch an easy double into a triple, only to record the first out of the game at third base. That mistake was followed by an error in the 3rd in which he errantly flipped a ball to Baker in an attempt to start a double play. That error, his 28th of the season, allowed the only Brewers run of the game to score.
• Third baseman Aramis Ramirez made it clear that he has probably played his final game in a Cubs uniform at Wrigley Field, stating before the game that he will opt for free agency this off-season, leaving a huge question mark at third for the Cubs next season.
• Manager Mike Quade, on the other hand, announced that he’s planning to be back managing the Cubs next season. Unlike Ramirez’s announcement, this proclamation probably isn’t founded on reality. As it turns out, I also plan to manage the Cubs in 2012.
• Congratulations to the Cubs marketing staff on eclipsing the 3 million mark for season attendance for the 8th straight season. As someone who is in the business of marketing sports and entertainment events, I can guarantee you this is the hardest they have had to work in a long time.
• They Cubs begin their final home stand of the season on Friday in St. Louis and the opportunity to play spoiler to the Cards’ post-season hopes makes me positively giddy.
This winter when I think back on the 2011 Cubs season and my mind starts to replay all of bad days, I’m going to close my eyes (really tightly) and try my best to remember this game instead. The sun was shining, the bats were smoking, and Garza was dealing…it was a perfect memory for an otherwise forgettable season. It was exactly the type of day that spawned the Cubs fan’s eternal “Wait ‘til next year” optimism, now we’re left only to hope for many more days like this in 2012.
Stars of the Game
Base on Win Probability Added (WPA)
1st Star – Matt Garza (.272 WPA)
2nd Star – D.J. LeMahieu (.192 WPA)
3rd Star – Starlin Castro (.080 WPA)