Game Eighty-Eight – Cubs 11 Brewers 4
The Cubs ended the first half of the season the way they started it….with a win and in fact way back in April the Cubs won their first 4 out of 5 games to start the season and with Sunday’s very impressive win in Milwaukee the Cubs have won their last 4 out of 5 games….something happened in between, but for now the Cubs have played possibly their best stretch of ball of the season.
When Mark Prior was scratched from his start right before game time the Cubs turned to Glendon Rusch and though Rusch has been one of the problems this season on Sunday he stepped up and pitched a very good game….something the Cubs desperately needed. The offense and the bullpen was tremendous again, it is actually a shame the break starts on Monday, it has really been enjoyable the past three games, and a better part of a week, to watch this team play….they have won 5 out of the last 8. This was the way the season was supposed to go….good starting pitching, a strong bullpen, a lot of speed, Juan Pierre creating havoc on the base paths and just enough power to get the job done. If you missed any of the last three games you have missed some very good baseball from the Cubbies.
On Sunday the Cubs set a new season high in walks with 9 and to quote Bob Brenly, “I remember whole series where the Cubs did not get 9 walks.” Of those 9 walks 5 of them scored and for once this season the Cubs did to an opponent what has been done to them all year. The Cubs made the Brewers staff work and that is when pitchers make mistakes. The Cubs plated runs in 6 of the 9 innings and scored at least 1 run off of 4 of the 5 Brewers’ pitchers, including 7 off of the starter, lefty Doug Davis. Half of their 14 hits were for extra bases (5 doubles and 2 home runs), they were 4 for 12 with runners in scoring position with a sacrifice fly and a sacrifice squeeze bunt in the 4th inning and they were 3 for 6 with runners in scoring position and 2 outs.
Juan Pierre, who has been the player of late the Cubs traded for this past off-season, led the game off with a walk, stole 2nd (number 30 of the season and 6 straight years with 30 or more steals), advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch and scored on a single to left by Aramis Ramirez. The Cubs went quietly in the 2nd and 3rd but the 4th inning showed what the Cubs are capable of.
Aramis Ramirez led off the inning with a monster shot to straight away center that hit the scoreboard. Michael Barrett followed with a 4-pitch walk and advanced to 3rd on a ground rule double by Jacque Jones that went over the left field wall. Matt Murton, who has 5 RBI’s in his last 3 games, hit a sacrifice fly to center that scored Barrett and advanced Jones to 3rd….it was good heads up base running by Jones. Ronny Cedeno then laid down a perfect bunt, a suicide squeeze to score Jones from 3rd, Cedeno was credited with a sacrifice bunt and the Cubs scored 3 runs in the inning with good fundamentals and execution.
The Cubs added 3 more in the 6th after Barrett led off the inning with another 4-pitch walk he advanced to 3rd on a single to right by Jones (who by the way finished the first half with very impressive stats .306/.336/.528/15/45 after a shaky start), Murton walked to load the bases, Cedeno struck out swinging, Phil Nevin walked to score Barrett and Juan Pierre doubled to score Jones and Murton. Jones doubled again in the 7th with 2 outs and scored on a broken bat single to right by Matt Murton. Angel Pagan hit his 3rd home run of the season, all on Sunday, to center in the 8th and he scored again in the 9th on a wild pitch with the bases loaded after Neifi Perez had doubled and scored on a single by Juan Pierre. Pierre finished the day 2 for 5 with 3 RBI’s and a run scored. Ramirez was 3 for 4 with a home run, 2 RBI’s, a walk and a run scored….he is one hit shy of 1,000 for his career. Matt Murton was 1 for 2 with a walk, 2 RBI’s and a run scored….Pierre, Ramirez and Murton were responsible for 9 of the 11 runs on the day.
Glendon Rusch pitched a very good game and only surrendered 2 runs on 4 hits, walked 2 and struck out 5. Rusch made some very good pitches but the Brewers were patient and refused to swing at them early in the game. Rusch really made only one mistake and that was to Rickie Weeks in the 3rd, a solo home run to left to lead off the inning. Once the Brewers got behind their aggressive nature took over and they beat themselves. Dusty used his entire pen on Sunday and they were very effective. Will Ohman, Scott Williamson, Roberto Novoa, Scott Eyre, Bobby Howry and Ryan Dempster all contributed in the last 4 innings of the game and surrendered 2 runs on 6 hits, no walks and struck out 7. The only 2 runs the bullpen gave up came off the bat of Carlos Lee in the 8th.
Sunday’s win was a good way to head into a long break, the only Cub that will see any action over the next few days is Carlos Zambrano. I know that everyone is ready for change on the Northside but I hope the guys come back from the break and play like they have over the last 9 days. Since Derrek Lee returned the Cubs are 6-9 but they are playing much better baseball and I think that is all that any of the Faithful want.
Stay tuned to the CCO during the All-Star break, there will be plenty to talk and read about. The Futures game was on Sunday that featured Eric Patterson, the AAA All-Star game is on Wednesday in which Rich Hill is starting, there will be Minor League reports and updates and as usual everything possible related to the Chicago Cubs.