Game Twenty-One – Cubs 6 Brewers 2
Updated - 10:24pm C.T.
On a beautiful spring day in Chicago with Babe Ruth’s relatives in the crowd the Cubs Faithful went back to school….with the ‘Ole Professor’ at the head of the class. Greg Maddux threw another masterpiece….what can Maddux not do? For a guy that was written off at the beginning of the season, he is proving all of the critics wrong….the fountain of youth has been found and it is in Greg Maddux’s house. Maddux is off to the best start of his already Hall of Fame career at 5-0 and Friday was career victory number 323. But Maddux was not the only story on Friday.
The Cubs’ offense looked very sharp on Friday and pounded out 13 hits (they only had 13 hits in the entire series against the Marlins), including 4 doubles and 2 home runs and supplied Maddux and Co. with more than enough runs to beat the Brewers. Maddux threw another gem, although he allowed 2 runs in a game for the first time on the season. Maddux went 6 innings and gave up 2 runs on 8 hits….his ERA is now at 1.35….still the lowest in the Major Leagues. Maddux got off to a rough start in the 1st inning, after retiring Rickie Weeks, Maddux loaded the bases and then struck out Prince Fielder and got Corey Koskie to fly to left to end the inning. Maddux held the Brewers at bay until the top of the 5th.
With one out, Maddux allowed 4 straight singles and the only 2 runs of the ballgame. Dave Bush started the single parade and Weeks and Hardy followed to load the bases and Geoff Jenkins hit the RBI single to cut the Cubs lead to 3-2….the closest the Brewers would get the entire day. Maddux showed his marvel with Carlos Lee….Maddux got Lee to chase a bad pitch, he grounded to Cedeno and Neifi turned a great double play to end the inning. Jenkins was coming in hard at Neifi and most second basemen would have bailed on the double play; Neifi did a great job and got the Cubs out of the inning.
What else can be said about Maddux? Has he ever looked this good? Maddux finished the day striking out 6 and walking one and he is the first Cubs pitcher to go 5-0 to start the season since Steve Stone in 1975.
The bullpen came in and did their job over the last 3 innings and did not allow the Brewers to get another hit. Bobby Howry and Scott Eyre were incredibly sharp….Scott Williamson struck out the side in the 9th to seal the victory for the Cubs.
The offense fed off of Greg Maddux and showed what they are capable of doing on a regular basis. Jacque Jones, Juan Pierre, Ronny Cedeno and Aramis Ramirez all stepped up and had a good game on Friday and if they could get hot together then the Cubs might be able to put together a long winning streak.
Jacque Jones had his best day as a Cub going 3 for 4 with a home run and a double and Ronny Cedeno’s 2-run homer gave the Cubs the insurance runs they needed in the bottom of the 5th. Neifi Perez and Greg Maddux were the only 2 starters that did not get at least one hit on Friday against the Brewers….Neifi is only hitting .176 on the season, but his glove was a big part in Friday’s win.
In the bottom of the 2nd the Cubs got on the board after 3 straight doubles. Aramis Ramirez led off the inning with a double and scored on Matt Murton’s double….Murton then scored on a double down the right field line by Jacque Jones and after 2 innings of play….2-0 Cubs.
In the bottom of the 3rd, Pierre led off the inning with the Cubs’ 4th double of the game and was advanced to 3rd on a bunt single (and a bad Brewers defensive play) by Ronny Cedeno. Walker singled to score Pierre and the Cubs were not able to add to their lead after that….the Cubs left a runner on 3rd with no outs. The Cubs must learn how to get that runner in….that could have cost them the game….
In the bottom of the 5th, The Juan Pierre Factor happened again….Pierre led off the inning with a bunt single and scored on Ronny Cedeno’s first home run of the season and the second of his career (his first was against the Brewers last July in Milwaukee). That line shot to left gave the Cubs the insurance runs they needed and Jacque Jones homer in the 8th put the game out of reach for the Brewers.
The Cubs played a good all-around game on Friday….this was a team win, led by the ultimate team player….The Ole Professor himself….Greg Maddux.