Game Eighty-One – Cubs 15 White Sox 11
What was supposed to be a pitchers duel turned out to be a slug-fest. The Cubs and Sox pounded out a combined 34 hits, 9 home runs, 6 doubles and a triple. The Cubs got home runs from Michael Barrett, Neifi Perez, Carlos Zambrano and two from Angel Pagan….the first two home runs of Pagan’s career. The Cubs recorded 20 hits, the most hits in a single game on the season and 15 runs, the second most of the season….including 7 runs on 7 hits in the 1st inning off of left-hander Mark Buehrle. But most importantly the Cubs did not allow the early hole that Zambrano put them in effect their game and played with a confidence that has not been there since the Cincinnati series almost a month ago.
Carlos Zambrano was not sharp, he had control issues and the 7 runs he allowed was the most an opponent had scored on Zambrano since the Brewers back on April 30th. While Zambrano had his problems, the Cubs’ offense looked sharp and was aided by Neifi Perez and Angel Pagan, both playing because of the lefty Buehrle on the mound. Perez and Pagan were a combined 5 for 10 with 3 home runs, 7 RBI’s and 4 runs scored. After a rough 1st inning that saw the Sox strike twice, Zambrano settled down and kept the Sox off the board until the 5th inning. After back-to-back walks, Juan Uribe homered to cut the deficit to 5-7….the Sox scored 3 runs on just 1 hit. In the 7th, Zambrano gave up a lead off home run to Jim Thome, pinch-hitting for David Riske. Scott Podsednik then doubled off of Ronny Cedeno’s face, it was a hustle double and no one was covering 2nd. After a single by Taguchi, Dusty went to the pen for Roberto Novoa. After a Paul Konerko single scored Podsednik, Novoa settled down and retired the next three Sox he faced. Zambrano finished the day with 6+ innings of work, he allowed 7 runs on 7 hits, struck out 6 and walked 3 on 112 pitches, 63 for strikes.
The bullpen of Novoa, Scott Williamson, Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry did not fair much better. Novoa was the only reliever to not give up a run but Williamson, Eyre and Howry did. Williamson gave up 2 runs on 2 hits in just a third of an inning aided by a home run by Joe Crede. Scott Eyre gave up a solo shot to Tadahito Iguchi and Jermaine Dye scored in the 9th on a sacrifice fly by Juan Uribe after leading off the inning with a single. Bobby Howry picked up his 2nd save of the season.
Aramis Ramirez was the only Cub on Sunday not to record a hit and broke his 6-game hitting streak. Ramirez reached on an error in the 5th and scored a run in that inning. The Cubs offense came to play on Sunday. They put up a remarkable 7 runs in the first inning, highlighted by home runs off the bat of Michael Barrett and Carlos Zambrano. Sunday’s home run for Zambrano was his 3rd of the season, the most home runs hit by a Cubs’ pitcher in a single season was 6 in 1971 by Ferguson Jenkins, and with Sunday being the half way point, Zambrano has a shot. The Cubs scored runs in the first off of 3 doubles, 2 home runs and a sacrifice fly. Juan Pierre and Ronny Cedeno, both had 2 hits on the day, scored on a double by Derrek Lee, Lee advanced to 3rd on a throwing error and scored on a sacrifice fly by Aramis Ramirez. Barrett homered and Matt Murton doubled and scored on a double by Neifi Perez who scored on the home run by Zambrano. The Cubs sent 10 to the plate against Buehrle in the 1st.
The Cubs were quiet again until the 5th, after loading the bases Aramis Ramirez scored on a fielder’s choice by Juan Uribe off the bat of Matt Murton. Neifi then stepped to the plate and hit the 3-run homer to center. The Cubs added 2 more in the 7th and 8th. Angel Pagan hit his first career home run to right to lead off the 7th and Matt Murton scored after an infield single when Jacque Jones doubled after coming off the bench. Pagan struck again in the 8th. After a 2-out single by Michael Barrett, Pagan hit his second home run of the day to straight away center, both of Pagan’s home runs came off of Cliff Politte….what a way to celebrate your 25th birthday.
The Cubs scored 15 runs on 20 hits, did not record a walk, hit 5 home runs and 4 doubles. It is too bad this was game 81 and not game 41. This was a good day to be a fan of the boys in blue….the good guys won today’s game and that’s all that matters for the next 24 hours.
Again, a special thanks goes out to Ron Santo for the title of Sunday’s recap. I hope everyone realizes how special he is and how much of a joy he is to listen to, he is the “Fans’ Voice of the Cubs”….he has to get in to Cooperstown this coming year.
The Cubs head to Houston to take on Roger Clemens on Monday night in the Juice Box. Let’s hope Marmol throws like he did his last time out….