Game Ninety-Eight – Cubs 8 Mets 7
What a game!!! The Cubs out dueled the best team in the National League led by 3 home runs and a 2-out, 2-run single by Juan Pierre that was the difference in the game. Michael Barrett went deep with 2-outs in the 1st and Aramis Ramirez and Jacque Jones hit back-to-back home runs, the second time this season and the second time in a week the Cubs went back-to-back, as a part of a 5-run 5th inning….it was the 6th home run for Aramis Ramirez in his last 5 games.
Greg Maddux picked up career win number 326, his first since June 9th and his 35th career victory against the Mets. Maddux was not sharp early but settled down and kept his team in the ballgame. Maddux was left out one inning too long but the Cubs needed the innings from the veteran in order to rest the over worked bullpen. Ryan Dempster retired the Mets in order in the 9th for his 17th save of the season. The train ride from D.C. must have done some good as the Cubs came out in the 1st inning and put up 3 against Steve Trachsel. After 2 outs Michael Barrett hit his 11th home run of the season over the left center field wall, Aramis Ramirez walked, Jacque Jones doubled to left and Phil Nevin hit his first of two doubles on the night to left to score Ramirez and Jones. The Cubs recorded 3 runs on 3 hits and a walk all with 2 outs.
The Cubs had opportunities all night and had base runners in all but 3 innings. After the Mets took the lead in the 4th, the Cubs offense that is so frustrating to watch stepped to the plate and by the time the inning was over they had batted around and scored 5 runs on 6 hits that included 2 home runs. Barrett led off the inning with a single and scored on Ramirez’s 22nd home run of the season into the second level….425′. Jacque Jones then stepped to the plate and took one out to center, 405′ officially but how is that so when the wall reads 410′? Phil Nevin then hit a check swing double down the right field line and with 1 out Neifi Perez recorded his second infield hit of the evening. Greg Maddux attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt, was unsuccessful but Nevin and Perez did advance during his at bat due to a wild pitch. Juan Pierre then singled to center to score both runs, with 2 outs….the difference in the game.
The Cubs really looked good at the plate and every position player except Ronny Cedeno recorded a hit on the night. Trachsel left the game in the 5th and the Cubs recorded all 8 runs on the night on 10 hits, walked 3 times and struck out 3 times against him. Monday night’s loss was Trachsel first since May 17th….11 starts. He left the ball up all night and the Cubs made him pay for it.
Greg Maddux again pitched better than his stats indicate. The line on Maddux for Monday night at Shea was 6+ innings, 7 runs on 10 hits, 4 strikeouts and 1 walk. Maddux should have never taken the mound in the 7th and if it were not for the bullpen being overworked over the weekend in D.C. he probably would not have.
After giving up 3 runs in the 1st inning and again 1 run should have not scored, Cedeno and Perez could not turn an inning ending double play. Maddux settled in and only allowed 1 more run until the 7th. The defense played extremely well on Monday and made catch after catch when Maddux needed them to. When Maddux took the mound in the bottom of the 7th the Cubs were up 8-4. Chris Woodward and Jose Valentin singled ahead of a walk to Jose Reyes to load the bases. Dusty went to the pen and the last 3 earned runs on the night were allowed by Michael Wuertz, Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry….they traded runs for outs and were aided by very good defensive plays by Matt Murton and Ronny Cedeno. Bobby Howry pitched a scoreless 8th and Ryan Dempster pitched a perfect 9th for the 27th out and the win.
Was Monday night a perfect game? Probably not but the Cubs did beat the best team in the league, ended two losing streaks, a New York drought that stretched back to September 2004 and put a smile on the faces of the Cubs Faithful and Ron Santo….that is what matters after all….it was a good win!!!!
Can Carlos Zambrano win his 8th in a row? It should be fun to watch under the lights at Shea on Tuesday night.