Game Nineteen – Cubs 7 Mets 1
WP – Carlos Zambrano (3-1) LP – John Maine (1-2) Save – None
It is always a great day when the Cubs beat the Mets, just ask Ron Santo. The first place Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets played an ole fashion nailbiter at Wrigley on Monday night that was much closer than the final score indicates. Carlos Zambrano turned in a gem and held the Mets to only 1 run on 5 hits in 7 innings….and the Cubs infield defense turned four double plays that helped Zambrano keep the Mets off the board.
Aramis Ramirez gave the Cubs a 2-run the lead in the 4th inning with his 5th home run of the season off of John Maine. The Mets cut the Cubs lead to 2-1 in the 6th and Lou Piniella’s offense was unable to add to their lead until the 8th inning.
Derrek Lee reached on an error by Jose Reyes to start the 8th. Aaron Heilman then plunked Aramis Ramiez on the elbow to put runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs. On the 10th pitch of the at bat, Kosuke Fukudome singled to left to load the bases. Heilman settled down and struck out an overly anxious Mark DeRosa and retired Geovany Soto on a pop out to 2nd base. Ronny Cedeno turned in another great at bat and on the 7th pitch singled to left center. Lee and Ramirez scored those all-important tack-on runs.
Felix Pie was inserted as a defensive replacement in the top of the inning and came through at the plate. Pie took a 2-0 offering from Jorge Sosa into the bleachers in right field and circled the bases pumping his fist. All 5 runs in the 8th came with 2 outs.
Many of the experts questioned how good Lou Piniella’s crew was following the sweep of the Pirates….and for one night they silenced those critics with a solid game against one of the elite teams in the National League. The Cubs new found patience at the plate is more than refreshing to see. While they only scored 2 runs off of John Maine, they made him work and in turn Willie Randolph had to turn the game over to his bullpen in the 7th inning. This is how teams win ballgames. Other than the win, the stat that stuck out the most…. Cubs’ pitchers threw a total of 116 pitches in 9 innings while the Mets’ threw 166 pitches in 8 innings.
Carlos Zambrano pitched a very good game. He worked fast, found a rhythm, threw strikes and did not appear to let the little things bother him. Zambrano allowed a lead off, broken bat bloop single to Jose Reyes. He paid a lot of attention to the speedy Reyes but did not allow him to affect his pitching. Zambrano retired Luis Castillo on a ground out, struck out David Wright and retired Carlos Beltran on a ground out to short to end the inning.
Zambrano faced the minimum in the 2nd. After giving up a 1-out single to Ryan Church, he struck out Raul Casanova on a 3-2 pitch. Church was running with the pitch and Geovany Soto threw him out to end the inning….strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out.
After retiring the Mets in order in the 3rd, Zambrano walked Castillo to start the 4th inning. David Wright then grounded into a 5-4-3 double play and Beltran popped out to 3rd to end the inning. Zambrano faced the minimum in the 5th after the infield turned their third double play of the game.
Endy Chavez led off the 6th with a double off the wall in left center. John Maine sacrificed him to 3rd but Geovany Soto made a rookie mistake and tried to throw out Chavez at 3rd. He was safe and so was Maine at 1st. Jose Reyes then hit a grounder to Ronny Cedeno at short, he took a couple of steps, touched the bag and fired to 1st to complete the double play. The run scored but the threat appeared to be over.
Zambrano then gave up an infield single to Luis Castillo and walked David Wright (on a very close pitch) but Carlos Beltran swung at the first pitch and flied out to Mark DeRosa in left to end the inning. The Mets would not get any closer.
Carlos Marmol retired the Mets in order in the 8th on 9 pitches and Kerry Wood did the same in the 9th on 6 pitches.
Kosuke Fukudome was 2-for-4 with a run scored and the at bat that changed the 8th inning. The home run by Felix Pie was the first of his career at Wrigley Field.
Lou Piniella said after the game, “These kids are playing ball. Their confidence is building.” Well….so is their patience at the plate. After the impressive win, the Cubs are 7 games over .500 on the young season.
Ted Lilly will take the hill in the last game of the series and of the homestand on Tuesday afternoon against Nelson Figueroa.