Z Heart and Soul

Game Eighty-Six – Cubs 7 Brewers 2

wflag.jpg Say what you want about Carlos Zambrano but he continues to pitch great for a bad team and shows emotion on the mound like he is pitching for a team in a pennant race, not one that started Friday’s game 23 games under .500. The “experts” use words such as “mediocre” and “average” to describe Zambrano but Zambrano gives 110% every fifth day, hustles down the line and puts his team in position to win….if Zambrano is “average” then the Cubs should get more average players like him.

The Cubs played a good game on Friday night and one of the few complete games of the season. Zambrano did his job, the bullpen was sharp (gave up only 1 run on 2 hits), the offense had clutch hits with 2 outs, they were smart and aggressive on the bases and they were solid defensively.

Zambrano gave the Cubs (again) a much-needed win and continued his dominance of the opposition. He went 6 innings and gave up 1 run on 5 hits, walked 3 and struck out 6. Zambrano kept the Brewers in check until the 6th and of all the innings he has pitched this season that was arguably his best after a rocky start. The Brewers were not swinging at the pitches Zambrano needed them to….they were incredibly patient and took some very close pitches. Usually Zambrano would lose his composure in situations similar to this but on Friday night he reached back, retired the Brewers and danced of the field.

Zambrano gave up an infield single to Jeff Cirillo and walked Geoff Jenkins. Carlos Lee singled to center to score Cirillo and Prince Fielder singled to right off of a bad pitch (maybe a bad pitch selection as well) to load the bases. Zambrano then induced Bill Hall to hit a grounder right back to the mound and the Cubs turned the 1-2-3 double play. Zambrano then reached back and struck out Gabe Gross to the end the inning. That was the turning point in the ball game….at that point the Cubs were up 3-1 and the Brewers could have easily tied the game or even took the lead but Zambrano continued to pitch with everything he’s got….it was a defining moment for Zambrano.

The offense really came to play on Friday. The Cubs pounded out 10 hits on Friday but it was their patience that led them to victory. Aramis Ramirez and Phil Nevin recorded back-to-back walks in 4th and 6th innings and that led to 2 big runs in the 6th. Juan Pierre added 3 more hits, scored 2 runs and drove in a run as well….Pierre has recorded 41 hits in the last 26 games, that is the production the Cubs thought they were trading for.

The Cubs put runs up on the board in 4 of the 9 innings including 6 runs in the 6th through 8th innings. Only Phil Nevin and Ronny Cedeno were unable to record a hit on the night….every other position player did. The Cubs also hit extremely well with RISP and 2 outs, on the night they were 3 for 6.

Juan Pierre scored the first run of the game after a leadoff double in the 1st and with 2 outs Aramis Ramirez came through with a single off the base of the left field wall. Rookie Zach Jackson pitched a good game and held the Cubs in check until the 6th. Barrett led off the inning with a ground-rule double and after back-to-back walks to Ramirez and Nevin, Jacque Jones hit a grounder up the middle that was stopped by Rickie Weeks on a good defensive play, the Brewers could not turn the double play and Barrett scored. Matt Murton followed with a single to left to score Ramirez….the Cubs have to “LET HIM PLAY”. Cedeno and Zambrano struck out to end the inning.

Todd Walker hit his 4th home run of the season in the 7th, he was 1 for his last 13 before the homer and the 8th inning was just fun to watch. Jones and Murton singled to center to start the inning, Cedeno laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt and John Mabry grounded out to Fielder at 1st, Jones scored on a good base running play. Juan Pierre then singled to center to score Murton, stole his 27th base of the season and went to 3rd on an error by Bill Hall. Todd Walker walked and Barrett singled to center to plate Pierre. The Cubs played good fundamental baseball all night but in the 8th especially. They just got into a groove, relaxed and hit the ball.

This was just a good game….

Carlos Marmol faces the only righty of the series on Saturday; can the Cubs make it two in a row? It has been a long time….but wouldn’t it be nice?

Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne