Now I know you’re thinking that the Cubs are going to feed off of the 15-run, 16-hit beatdown that the Cubs put on the Brewers on Wednesday at Wrigley. But my money is going down on a Reds sweep at the Friendly Confines as the Cubs continue to frustrate their fans and new owners.
The Cubs have had a nasty habit of failing to keep momentum going when they are playing well this season. You would think that after every single position player got a hit in the Cubs 15-3 win over the Brewers, that the team would be able find a way to make it 2 in a row in Friday’s game against the Reds. But I just don’t see it happening. First, after big breakout wins earlier in the season, the team seems to crawl back into their shell immediately afterwards. For example, after starting the month of June losing 4 of their 1st 6 games, the Cubs looked like they might turn things around with a 9-4 win over the Brewers in Milwaukee. But then they proceeded to lose the next 3 games to the Brewers and White Sox, being outscored 17-10 in the process. Later in June, the Cubs broke out with a 12-0 win over the Angels to avoid a sweep on a Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field. But did it help? No way, as the Cubs lost their next 4 out of 5 games being outscored 21-6 in the process. The same trend continued in July. After the Cubs swept the Diamondbacks in early July in a 3-game series (outscoring them 23-11), the Cubs went into a major funk against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, losing 3 of the 4 games and being outscored 22-16. Later in July, the Cubs took 3 of 4 from the Phillies and 2 of 3 from the Cardinals, but then dropped 4 of 6 games to the “lowly” Astros while being outscored 38-29 in those 6 games. What gives?This is clearly a team that has very little confidence – a team that can go into a team-wide funk – a team that can lose a lot of games in a hurry.
Further, the 2010 trend against the Reds does not bode well for the Cubs. Back in July when the Cubs hosted the Reds for a 4-game set at Wrigley Field over the July 4th weekend, the Reds really took it to the flustered Cubs. The Reds won 3 out of 4 games and outscored the Cubs 30-8 in the series. The Cubs lost a close one 3-2 and won a close one 3-1, but then lost 2 of the games 12-0 and 14-3. Bronson Arroyo who was involved in the 12-0 win will take on Tom Gorzelanny in Friday’s opener. Edinson Volquez who has spent much of the season on the DL will start against Randy Wells on Saturday. Wells won the only game for the Cubs during the July series 3-1. And then rookie phenom Travis Wood (0.87 WHIP and 2.42 ERA) who held the Cubs to just 2 ER in 7 innings of the 3-2 win back in July will square off against Thomas Diamond on Sunday. Diamond will be making just his 2nd start of his major league career. All in all, you have to favor the 1st place Reds in the weekend series after taking 2 of 3 from the Pirates (outscoring them 19-11) earlier this week.
Now back to the game from yesterday.
Starlin Castro led the way with 4 hits and 2 runs scored. He raised his average to .318 and now has an .364 on-base percentage. The kid is clearly showing that he is an every day shortstop and a future star in the making.
Geovany Soto had 3 hits, 5 RBI’s and 3 runs scored. Soto’s 3-run bomb in the 8th inning gave the Cubs a nice 10-3 cushion.
Aramis Ramirez pinch-hit in the 6th inning and came through with a clutch, mammoth 3-run home run to deep left center field that gave the Cubs a 7-3. It was a big hit as the Cubs had just taken a 4-3 lead on RBI singles from Soto, Blake DeWitt and Jeff Baker.
DeWitt also stroked his 1st home run in a Cubs uniform – a 3-run shot in the 8th inning. DeWitt ended up with 2 hits, 4 RBI’s and 2 runs scored.
Derrek Lee also chipped in on the attack with 2 hits, 2 walks, 1 RBI and 2 runs scored. His current .252 batting average is the highest it has been since Lee was hitting .262 way back on April 19th. Talk about a horrible season for an aging 1st baseman who is coming up for his last MLB contract. Not a good recipe for getting a good multi-year deal during the winter…
It was a great offensive day for the Cubs, but I’ll doubt we will see that too often on a consistent basis the rest of the way. I hope I’m wrong, because I’d love to see more “relaxed” pictures of Lou like the one above before he leaves at the end of the season. Plus, while I know that Lou said there is no room for “moral victories” at the major league level the other day, these guys need to finish with a few positive performances and games down the stretch in order to look forward to starting over fresh. More bad losses in August and September and more offensive funks where the team just can’t seem to drive in a clutch run could make Spring Training 2011 a tense and uncomfortable place to be next February and March…