Terrific Tom – Tom Gorzelanny looked like Cy Young, as he shut down the Cincinnati Reds over 7 1/3 innings en route to a spectacular Cubs debut. Gorzelanny gave up just 1 ER on 3 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 6. The Cubs just acquired Gorzelanny late last week before the trading deadline, and he took over the 5th starter role for Kevin Hart who moved to the Pirates in the trade. Hart had been filling in for Ted Lilly who will be on the DL for another 2 weeks or so.
Gorzelanny and the Cubs should have known it was going to be a good game for the visiting team. First, Kosuke Fukodome led off the game with his 1st ever lead-off home run (his 8th of the season). Then in the bottom of the inning, Adam Rosales tripled to left field on a ball that Alfonso Soriano just missed catching against the wall in left. With the Reds’ 2 best hitters coming up with a man on 3rd and less than 2 outs, things did not look good. But Gorzelanny buckled down, striking out Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips to end the threat and preserving the Cubs 1-0 lead. With the lead still 1-0, the Cubs got clutch 2-out singles from Koyie Hill, Gorzelanny himself and then Kosuke Fukodome to blow the game open. The back-to-back-to-back singles plated 4 Cubs runs and the Cubs built a 5-0 lead. Derrek Lee then added an insurance run with his 22nd HR on the year, a solo shot in the 7th to increase the Cubs lead to 6-0.
The only bad news – the Cubs bullpen. After Gorzelanny allowed to batters to reach base in the 8th inning, Sean Marshall gave up a single to Joey Votto that scored the Reds 1st run. And in the bottom of the 9th inning, Angel Guzman gave up 2 runs when he hit the lead off hitter and then served up a 2-run HR to Wladimir Balentien. Not good, especially when Manager Lou Pinella and the Cubs are looking to Guzman to step up his game in the late innings with Kevin Gregg dealing with “tired arm syndrome.” Going back to the last 5 road games, the Cubs bullpen has surrendered a total of 11 runs from the 8th inning on (3 in the 8th on Friday; 3 in the 9th on Saturday; 2 in the 9th on Sunday; 1 in the 9th on Monday and 2 in the 9th on Tuesday). This is completely unacceptable, as it cost the Cubs 2 games during the stretch. If the bullpen continues to flounder like this on a regular basis, the Cubs will struggle to stay in the 2009 NL Central and Wild Card race.
Rich Harden and the Cubs go for the sweep over the Reds tonight in Cincinnati. The Cardinals already lost to the Mets at CITI Field today in New York, so a Cubs win means sole possession of 1st place for the North Siders. Lets Go Cubs!