Game Sixty-Nine – Cubs 6 Blue Jays 2
WP – Jason Marquis (5-3) LP – Roy Halladay (8-6) Save – None
This is why they play the games. On paper Saturday’s pitching match-up looked very lopsided. A former Cy Young Award winner and one of the best in his league against a pitcher that has never performed to his potential consistently throughout his career. Throw in the fact the Cubs’ offense had not been scoring runs in bunches and it figured to be a long afternoon for Lou Piniella’s crew. But then the ump yelled….PLAY BALL!!!
Jason Marquis was outstanding. He picked up his third win in a row and not only equaled his performance against the Dodgers but surpassed it. Marquis threw 7 innings of shutout ball and did not allow his first hit until the 5th. Marquis retired 9 in a row at one point and faced just 2 over the minimum through the first 7 innings. Marquis left in the 8th after loading the bases on 3 straight singles. Marquis ended up allowing 1 run on 4 hits in 7+ innings with 2 walks and a strikeout on just 78 pitches.
Carlos Marmol struck out the first two batters he faced in relief of Marquis in the 8th. Marmol did walk Matt Stairs to force in the only run that Marquis was credited with. Bobby Howry gave up the Blue Jays other run in the 9th after a leadoff triple by Kevin Mench and a sacrifice fly by Lyle Overbay.
The Cubs defense stepped up behind Marquis on Saturday and made several difficult plays on the artificial turf look rather routine. Ronny Cedeno, Mark DeRosa, Mike Fontenot and Jim Edmonds were the standouts.
Mike Fontenot sparked the Cubs’ offense with a 2-out single off of Roy Holladay, the Cubs’ first of the day. Henry Blanco reached on a bloop single to right and Fontenot scored on an error by David Eckstein. Ronny Cedeno was originally awarded a hit and an RBI but it was later changed.
The big hit came off the bat of Reed Johnson. The former Blue Jay stepped in against Halladay and gave the Cubs a 4-0 lead with one swing of the bat. Johnson cracked a 3-run shot over the left field wall for his 3rd long ball of the season.
Derrek Lee had a big game at the plate. He was 3-for-4 with a triple, 2 runs scored and a walk….his most productive day on the road this season. Jim Edmonds continued swinging a hot bat and added a 2-for-5 day with a RBI in 5th.
The Cubs picked up their first win on turf since 2004 and became the first team in the majors to notch their 44th victory of the season. Jason Marquis turned in another great outing and arguably his best of the year. Marquis was very efficient, found a rhythm early and used two double play balls in the first four innings to gain a little confidence. Marquis pitched ahead in the count most of the afternoon and of the 8 innings he started, allowed the leadoff hitter to reach just three times. Marquis mixed his pitches rather well and most importantly kept the ball down.
The Cubs defense allowed Marquis to pitch to contact. Ronny Cedeno, Mark DeRosa, Mike Fontenot and Jim Edmonds took hits away early in the game which helped keep Marquis’ pitch count down.
It appeared for a while that Marquis might be able to go the distance but he just ran out of gas in the 8th.
Rod Barajas led off the inning with a single to center, just the second hit Marquis allowed, and Brad Wilkerson followed with a sharp single to right on the first pitch from Marquis. David Eckstein singled to left off of Mark DeRosa’s glove….a ball that probably could have been caught. Lou Piniella made the slow walk and brought in Carlos Marmol to face Joe Inglett with the bases loaded and no outs.
Marmol struck out Inglett swinging on a 3-2 pitch, struck out Alex Rios looking a 2-2 pitch (Rios never took the bat off his shoulder) but Marmol walked Matt Stairs to force in a run. Scott Rolen popped out to 2nd base on the second pitch from Marmol to end the inning.
Bobby Howry was hit rather hard in the 9th. He gave up a run on 2 hits (a triple and a double) with the RBI coming on a sacrifice fly. After a good stretch from Howry, he’s struggled a little of late.
The Cubs offense had a very good approach against Roy Halladay. They made him work and he left after just 5 innings and 95 pitches. The Cubs took advantage of the error by David Eckstein and Reed Johnson reminded Blue Jays’ management why he was a fan favorite in Toronto.
The Cubs 5th run came in the 3rd inning after a single to center by Derrek Lee started the inning. Jim Edmonds reached on a single to center with 1-out and Mark DeRosa drove in Lee with a single to center.
Lee scored the Cubs’ 6th run in the 5th inning. Lee reached on a triple to center. Vernon Wells attempted to make a diving catch, he missed and the ball rolled past him. Aramis Ramirez struck out and Jim Edmonds came through again. Lee scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Edmonds….Overbay decided to throw home and Lee avoided the tag of Rod Barajas with a good slide.
The Cubs needed the performance they received from Jason Marquis and with Alfonso Soriano out, the Cubs offense needed the boost of confidence that comes with beating a pitcher the caliber of Roy Halladay….especially on the road.
Ted Lilly will be out to prove a point on Sunday in the series finale against Jesse Litsch.