Game Ninety-Two – Cubs 4 Astros 2
Carlos Marmol won for the second time in a row, his third on the season and led his team to victory for the first time this season at home against the Astros. Marmol pitched himself in and out of trouble all night and out pitched his opponent Roy Oswalt. Marmol allowed just 1 run on 4 hits in 6 innings of work and struck out 6. Once he learns how to repeat his delivery and throw strikes on a consistent basis the Cubs might have a very special pitcher in Marmol.
The Cubs offense continued being productive on Tuesday night and put up 4 runs against Oswalt, the most he had allowed since June 20th against the Twins. Phil Nevin hit a huge 3-run homer in the 4th and Michael Barrett added a RBI double in the 5th, both with 2 outs. The Cubs played a very solid game led by their rookie right-hander. This was a good pitchers duel and fortunately for the Cubs Roy Oswalt made the biggest mistake on the night. Nevin’s home run in the 4th not only gave the Cubs the lead but it came with 2 outs and the offense was very efficient with runners in scoring position all night. For this team to record only 8 hits and score 4 runs without any free passes, it was a sight to see. The Cubs stranded only 2 on the night and recorded one hit against the Astros bullpen. The Cubs were 2 for 4 with runners in scoring position on the night and 2 for 3 with 2 outs.
The most impressive part of the Nevin home run was how it started. After Michael Barrett led off the inning with a single to right (Barrett is on fire right now) and with 2 outs, Jacque Jones lined a single to left. Nevin then took the third straight fastball from Oswalt over the left field wall for his 8th home run as a Cub and 17th of the year.
Not only was Marmol spectacular on the mound he also recorded his first Major League hit, a single in the 3rd to center and a sacrifice bunt in the 5th that led to the Cubs 4th run. Marmol did throw 110 pitches (65 for strikes) in his 6 innings but he made the pitches he needed to make. In the 4th after a leadoff walk to Lance Berkman, Aubrey Huff tripled him home but was stranded at 3rd.
Tuesday’s performance by Marmol was even more impressive if you take into consideration that most teams do better against a pitcher the second time they see them. Marmol had his worst start of the season against Houston 15 days ago when he could not make it through the 5th inning. Dusty almost pulled him in the 6th with 2 outs but after a conference on the mound, Dusty left him in with runners on 1st and 2nd, Marmol balked and then got pinch hitter Luke Scott to ground out to 2nd to end the inning and he left the mound pumping his fist and pointing toward the sky….ala Carlos Zambrano.
After the “Youth Movement” the past two games, Wednesday night will be a battle of future Hall of Famers, hopefully Maddux can get back on track.