Wow, I was not expecting that! One day after beating Cub killer Aaron Harang and losing left fielder Alfonso Soriano for two weeks, I was worried that there would be a little let down. But no way was there a let down as the Cubs put a beat down on the Reds. It was fun to finally watch a game that doesn’t make you pull out your hair and give you heartburn.
It all started in the bottom of the first after Mike Fontenot grounded out to first to start out the game. After that first out, the next five Cubs all got on base. Theriot doubled, Lee hit a single, and Aramis drew a walk. With the base loaded and one out, Fukudome worked it to a 3-2 count and hit a ball down the third base line that was just foul and shattered his bat. So what does he do next? He hits a double down the first base line to clear the bases. Bob Brenly put it best when he said “How do you defend against that guy?” Good question Bob. DeRosa hit a double, scoring Fukudome and the Cubs had a 4-0 lead.
After getting Brandon Phillips to strike out in the top of the second, Zambrano walked Adam
Dunn. Then Edwin Encarnacion hit a single to put runners at first and second. The next batter, Joey Votto, hit what looked like an easy pop fly, but DeRosa, who started out the game playing left field, saw the wind take the ball over his head and bounce into the bleachers for a ground rule double. The score was now 4-1 with runners at second and third and only one out. All eyes were on Zambrano, to see if he would melt down, but the Cubs luckily got a little lucky. Javier Valentin grounded out to Zambrano, who caught Encarnacion in a run down off third for the second out. Then Josh Fogg looked like he had a basehit up the middle, but the ball hit the mound, popped up, and landed in Theriot’s glove. Theriot tossed it to Lee and the threat was over. Zambrano had smooth sailing from there.
Derek Lee started off the third with a homer to center. That was Lee’s sixth homer of the season. That equals his home run total for the entire first half of last season. I just find that amazing. After that, the next three batters reached base, Aramis walking, Fukudome hitting a single, and DeRosa walking, before Geovany Soto hit a two run double. That was it for Fogg, gone without retiring a batter in the third. With DeRosa at third and Soto at second, Reed Johnson hit a sac fly. Then Zambrano helped his own cause by hitting an rbi single to score Soto. Fontenot eventualy scored on a nice play and by the end of the inning, the Cubs were up 10-1.
At that point, iit was no longer a game, just a party at Wrigley. Zambrano gave up two runs on eight hits over seven innings for the win. He also had three hits, including a double and an RBI, and had hits from both sides of the plate. Reds starter Josh Fogg was charged with nine earned runs and seven hits over just two-plus innings. Major a-hole Kent Merker, the guy who got in some altercations with Steve Stone, gave up a double to Z, threw a wild pitch, and gave up a run on a Fontenot single. Wednesday’s loss was the fifth in a row for Cincy, and the Cubs are 7-3 in their last ten games. After St. Louis beat Milwaukee again, the Cubs are now in sole possession of second place in the NL Central.
Adam Dunn finally snapped out of his slump, hitting a monster home run onto Sheffield. As usual, someone threw the ball back onto the field, and then 20 more balls littered the field. I have talked about some of the negative behavior I have witnessed at Wrigley over the last few years. I don’t know why people do stuff like this. Don’t say alcohol. I have been drunk at thousands of Cubs games and have never thrown anything onto the field of play. It just makes Cubs fans look bad. After hearing how stupid the Phillies fans sounded booing their home team constantly last weekend, I would hope that Cubs fans would learn a thing or two. I really wish these people who are acting like idiots would go do it somewhere else.
Keep it Rolling
Winning these first two games were huge for the Cubs. Now Ted Lilly, who has struggled this season, has no pressure to win this game. If he pitches well, great. If not, we still won the series. He can focus on improving his game and contributing to the team. How nice would it be to sweep Dusty and his Reds out of town.
Big deal. Dusty Baker is coming back to Chicago. Do I hate the guy? No. Do I think he was an overrated manager who blew a chance of the lifetime to get to the wrold series? Yes. Do I hold him responsible for Steve Stone leaving the Cubs?. Yes. Do I still think he held back the development of younger players like Ryan Theriot by playing guys like Neifi Perez? Yes. Do I think that he played the race card when things didn’t go his way? Yes. Do I believe that he made excuses for himself and his players and never held himself or anyone on the team accountable? Yes
Ok, I changed my mind. I do hate Dusty Baker. And now, Dusty and his new team, the Reds, are coming into town. Baseball if a funny game. The Reds took 2 out of 3 from the Brewers, in Milwaukee. Then, the Reds lose three in a row to Pittsburgh, who the Cubs swept the series before. Will the Reds be extra amped up to win one for their new skipper, especially with the negative reception Dusy will get? The Reds finally have a solid pitching staff, but now their bats have gone cold. Over the three game series in Pittsburgh, the Reds were 6-for-35 (.171) with runners in scoring position and stranded 32 runners on base. They did not hit any home runs.
The Cubs have their own problems, especially with starting pitching. Carlos Zambrano struggled in his last start, and our two lefties look awful. Ryan Dempser, who surprisingly has been the best of the Cubs pitchers so far, will take on Aaron Harang, the Reds ace, in game one of the series. Big Z will see if he can bounce back against struggling Reds’ starter Josh Fogg. In the last game of the series, Ted Lilly will look to solve his 08 woes against Edinson Volquez, one of the two dynamic young pitchers the Reds have starting. The other, Johnny Cueto, won’t be ptiching in the series.
The scary thing is that both Lou and Dusty are saying the same things. Both want to go with faster lineups to manufacture runs. After having most of the weekend off, Felx Pie will be back in the lineup. Ronnie Cendeno may get the start at second, but Mark DeRosa has an excellent career average against the Reds. Speaking of excellant career averages, the Reds hope that Adam Dunn will again kill the Cubs. Dunn has been struggling this season, going 6-for-36 with five RBIs overall this season with 10 strikeouts and only one home run. Dunn’s 20 homers, 43 runs and 43 walks at Wrigley Field since 2001 are the most by a Cubs opponent. Personally, I’d be happy if he keeps slumping.
The Brewers face off against the Cardinals, which means this is a great opportunity to gain some ground in the division. The Cubs need to get the bats going, and the pitchers need to avoid walks. Hopefully we can start playing better in all aspects of the game