A Zhutout for the Cubs

Game Thirty-Eight – Cubs 4 Nationals 0

wflag.jpg Great pitching….great defense and good hitting on a beautiful night in Chicago all led to a much-needed Cubs victory. Carlos Zambrano continued his tremendous May pitching performances with 8 shutout innings against the Washington Nationals. Zambrano only allowed 4 hits and at one point retired 11 in a row in route to the first Cubs shutout of the year. Zambrano has only allowed 1 earned run in 22 innings in the month of May.

The offense recorded only 8 hits, but they hit the ball with runners in scoring position and the Cubs plated 4 runs and could have been more if not for another mental mistake on the base paths in the 4th inning. John Mabry made two great defensive plays and the ball bounced their way again in the 8th on a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning and preserve the shutout for the Cubs. This was the first victory by the Cubs organization at home against a Washington organization since August 1, 1899.

Zambrano recorded his second consecutive victory on the season and was in total control from the beginning of the ballgame. Zambrano struck out Alfonso Soriano to start the ballgame (the first of three strikeouts on the night for Soriano against Zambrano) and recorded all 8 of his strikeouts in the first 5 innings. Zambrano threw 122 pitches, but only walked 2 and he allowed a base runner to reach 2nd base only twice on the night. Zambrano only allowed 2 hits through 6 2/3 before giving up a single up the middle to Wiki Gonzalez in the 7th. Zambrano looked sharp and did not allow an error in the 3rd by Ronny Cedeno (his 8th of the year) to shake his confidence. Ryan Dempster came in for the 9th (a non-save situation) and retired the Nationals in order and combined with Zambrano for the shutout. Zambrano is now tied with Pedro Martinez for the National League lead in strikeouts (62) and it was great to see him only allow 2 walks. It was all Z….all night long, turnabout is fair play and it was good to see the Cubs on the opposite end of a shutout.

The offense showed little life early and left Michael Barrett at 2nd base after a lead off double to start the 2nd inning as well as Juan Pierre at 2nd in the 3rd inning after a single to left field that Alfonso Soriano misplayed that allowed him to move to into scoring position. The Cubs did get on the board in the 4th inning after a leadoff double by Todd Walker, Michael Barrett singled to put runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs. Aramis Ramirez grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Todd Walker. Jacque Jones singled to center and John Mabry walked to load the bases. Ronny Cedeno stepped to the plate and after two very bad cuts he had a good at bat against Livan Hernandez and hit what should have been a sacrifice fly to left. Soriano caught the ball and noticed Jacque Jones was 3/4 of the way to 3rd base, Soriano fired the ball to 2nd….double play, inning over. Jacque Jones was doubled off of 2nd base for the third time this season and the right field bleachers let him have it when he took his position to start the next inning. Fortunately for the Cubs, that play did not cost them the momentum and the ballgame. The team rallied around the mental mistake and added to their lead in the 5th.

Carlos Zambrano led off the inning and hit a routine groundball to Royce Clayton, Zambrano was hustling the entire way….Clayton made a bad throw and Zambrano was safe at first. Juan Pierre beat out a bunt and Matt Murton did as well. Murton bunted to the 3rd base side of the mound, Hernandez fielded it and slipped as he went to throw the ball….everyone was safe and the bases were loaded for Todd Walker. Walker singled to right….Zambrano and Pierre scored. Michael Barrett then hit a line drive to Hernandez, he doubled off Walker at first. But Aramis Ramirez hit a 2-out double to score Murton and that gave Zambrano all the runs he needed.

The Cubs recorded 4 walks on Tuesday, including two by John Mabry. They showed patience at the plate they have not shown in weeks and it paid off. Juan Pierre was 2 for 5 with a run scored; Todd Walker was 2 for 3 with a walk, a run scored and 2 RBI’s. Jerry Hairston added a hit in the 8th and is now 3 for 6 as a pinch hitter on the year.

For those of you that missed the game, watch Baseball Tonight for the web gems that John Mabry had on Tuesday night. The first one was a catch over the gate in foul ground and the second was in the bullpen area down the right field line. With the defense that Mabry is adding at first and with the way Walker hits when he is at second, let’s hope Dusty leaves the right side of the infield alone for the next couple of days.

The Cubs played a solid game and will look to Sean Marshall to give them back-to-back wins for the first time since April 24th and 25th (Florida Marlins).

But most importantly….CUBS WIN, CUBS WIN!!!

Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver