A Standing O for Zambrano

Game Ninety – Cubs 9 Mets 2

Updated – 9:55pm C.T.

wflag.jpg This game was a tale of two halves….until the 6th inning the Cubs offense was incredibly flat against the 40-year old Tom Glavine, they had only collected 2 hits in the first 5 innings and both of those were of the infield variety. The Cubs were entrenched in a “good ole fashion” pitchers duel. Carlos Zambrano was spectacular again and did not allow a hit until the 6th inning, a leadoff triple by Jose Valentin. But it was his hustle in the bottom of the 5th that arguably jump-started the Cubs offense in the bottom of the 6th. Zambrano held the Mets to just 2 runs on 3 hits in 6 innings of work, walked 4 and struck out 7 including striking out 5 of the first 10 batters he faced.

The game was full of career firsts and a milestone but most importantly the Cubs beat the Mets and that always equals a good day….just ask Ron Santo.

Aramis Ramirez recorded his 1,000th career hit in 6th a single to left that scored the first run of the day for the Cubs. And here is a lit of the career firsts that took place on Saturday:

– Carlos Zambrano stole 2nd base in the 5th
– Carlos Zambrano recorded a victory against the Mets
– Angel Pagan recorded a pinch hit in the 6th
– Ryan Theriot recorded his first triple in the 6th
– Ryan Theriot stole 2nd base in the 7th

Carlos Zambrano always gives his best but on Saturday afternoon he really jump started his team and thankfully they put up a 5 spot in the bottom of the inning because his hustle almost cost him the game. Zambrano stepped to the plate in the 5th inning and hit ground ball to David Wright at 3rd. Wright made a good play, but Zambrano hustled down the line, beat out the throw and stole 2nd base at the delight of the Cubs Faithful. Zambrano is the future of the Cubs and no one has ever said he uses his head all the time and that attempted stolen base was a great example. It was a great idea to attempt to spark his team and thankfully for the Cubs he was not hurt and the Cubs won the game….Dusty even pulled a necklace out from his shirt and kissed it after he realized Zambrano was O.K. Juan Pierre grounded out to 2nd to end the inning. Zambrano did not score but the result he was trying to get would come an inning later.

Zambrano took the mound for the 6th and coincidentally he proceeded to surrender his first hit of the day, a leadoff triple to Jose Valentin. The Mets scored 2 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks in the 6th and it was began to look like Zambrano had run himself off the mound. But the Cubs offense came to life in the 6th as they sent 9 batters to the plate and scored 5 runs….all started by a misplayed ball in right off the bat of a rookie.

Ryan Theriot made the start at 2nd base for the Cubs on Saturday, his first of the season and proceeded to record 2 hits, both for extra bases (a double and a triple), walked once, scored 2 runs and stole a base. And his sun-aided triple to lead off the 6th woke up the offense and led to 9 unanswered runs.

After Theriot’s triple (he also had a very impressive at bat in the 1st inning where he fouled off several pitches and eventually grounded out to 2nd base to advance Pierre to 2nd), Derrek Lee walked and Aramis Ramirez hit a rocket past a diving Chris Woodward at short to score Theriot and record hit number 1,000. The single chased Glavine from the game and the Mets went to the pen, the second rated pen in the NL, and brought in sub-mariner Chad Bradford. The Cubs looked very comfortable against the Kent Tekulve-esque pitcher as they proceed to put up 4 runs against him. Jacque Jones pinch hit for Phil Nevin, grounded into a force play and D-Lee ended up at 3rd. After a very good at bat, Matt Murton singled up the middle to score Lee and Jones moved to 3rd. Neifi then singled to left to score Jones and Mr. Hank White, himself (Henry Blanco), doubled to score Murton and Perez. Angel Pagan collected his first career pinch-hit single to left to plate Blanco to complete the scoring in the 6th. Scott Eyre pitched a scoreless 7th before Bill Buckner conducted the stretch and the Cubs offense picked up where they left off in the 7th.

Theriot started the 7th with a walk, stole 2nd and moved to 3rd on an infield single by Derrek Lee. Ramirez singled to center to score Theriot and with 1-out Murton drove in another run with a single to right after another very good at bat. Neifi recorded an infield single that was aided by Murton running with the pitch, Ramirez scored and both Neifi and Murton moved up 90′ on a throwing error by Chris Woodward. John Mabry stepped to the plate and hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Murton.

The Cubs were 9 for 19 with a sacrifice fly with runners in scoring position on Saturday and the only negative was 0 for 4 with 2 outs but when a team is that effective with less than 2 outs that stat is irrelevant. Every position player except for Nevin and Jones recorded a hit. Ryan Theriot, Aramis Ramirez, Matt Murton and Neifi Perez each had a 2-hit day and both Ramirez and Lee walked twice as the Cubs recorded 6 free passes on the day. The bullpen held the Mets scoreless and Ryan Dempster threw a perfect 9th and looked very good for the second straight outing.

The Cubs gave Tom Glavine his first defeat in his last 14 starts, Carlos Zambrano won his sixth straight game and the Cubs have quietly won 5 out of their last 7 games. It is really nice to see a better brand of baseball being played on the Northside of Chicago.

Rookie Sean Marshall will try on Sunday to give the Cubs their first series victory of the second half on Sunday afternoon in front of a national audience on ESPN.

Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt