Game One Hundred Six – Cubs 9 Diamondbacks 3
For the first time in his brief big league career Rich Hill showed what the Cubs have been waiting patiently to see….his first Major League win. Hill was magnificent against a team that put up 15 runs on Monday night at Wrigley. Hill earned his first win and gave the Cubs’ bullpen a much-needed rest. The Cubs’ got out to an early lead with help from the newest Cub, Cesar Izturis, and Hill settled in and showed a confidence he had never displayed at this level.
The Cubs hit 4 home runs in the first 5 innings, played a solid defense and scored early and often in the oppressive heat that has been in the Chicago area for the past several days. The win was impressive against a team they have struggled against since Opening Day of 2005; the Cubs had lost the last 8 out of 9 games against the Diamondbacks. Tuesday was more than just a win for a team in the middle of a disappointing season, it was a win that showed what is possible for years to come. Granted one win does not make a career but with the way Rich Hill has struggled in a Chicago Cubs uniform at least this is a start and Tuesday night showed the Faithful what they had been waiting to see. Rich Hill worked quickly and confident. He pitched extremely well, showed a lot of command with his fastball and located his curve ball when needed. Hill’s biggest problem in the Majors had been all of the free passes he has allowed but on Tuesday he gave up just one walk and struck out 6. Hill threw 109 pitches in 8 complete innings, his longest outing of his career. The D’Backs were able to record just 6 hits and only 1 was a round tripper….Hill allowed just 3 runs on the night.
The “kids” have their opportunity now to show what they are capable of and Rich Hill took his first step at securing a spot in the rotation for the rest of the season. Before the leadoff walk to Chad Tracy in the 5th, Hill retired 8 in a row after Tracy had singled in the 2nd inning. The walk to Tracy did lead to 2 runs in the 5th but Hill settled back down and did not allow another run until the 8th, a solo home run by Eric Byrnes. Whatever the Cubs’ coaching staff did with Hill since his outing last week against the Cardinals worked and they must continue working with the young lefty, the future is now….the Cubs must figure out who will be in the picture.
The Cubs scored all 9 of their runs in the first 5 innings lead by 4 home runs….Aramis Ramirez (25), Jacque Jones (17), Michael Barrett (13) and Matt Murton (5) all went deep and Cesar Izturis and John Mabry came close as well. The Cubs were aggressive at the plate and only walked once on the evening but all of the position players recorded at least 1 hit and Rich Hill had a sacrifice bunt that led to a 2-run, 2-out double by Juan Pierre in the 2nd. Matt Murton hit his 5th home run in the 3rd inning (his first since May 29th) that came with a little controversy. The ball just barely made it into the basket in right center, but it bounced out and was initially ruled a triple. Replay showed it bounced off the hat of a fan attempting to catch the ball in the bleachers, the umpires huddled and ruled it was a home run….let this “kid” play, Murton is hitting .310 (9-29) in his last 10 games with 5 RBI’s.
The Cubs bounced back after a horrible performance on Monday. Cesar Izturis was 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored in his Cub debut (he did “admire” what he thought was a home run in the 1st, the double should have been a triple). Juan Pierre had a big 2-out double and Michael Barrett continued swinging his hot bat….his season average is up to .332. But most importantly, Rich Hill was an entirely different pitcher, one the Faithful had not seen in his 15 previous big league games.
The Cubs turn to another rookie on Wednesday night at Wrigley, Carlos Marmol will take the hill in search of his 5th big league win….can the Cubs get another quality start from one of the “kids”….that is a question for another day.