- Thursday July 24rd – Wrigley Field
- Game (102): Cubs 6 – Marlins 3
- Record (60-42) – 1st place NL Central
- 20-Games in 20-Days – (3-4)
The skinny: Don’t underestimate the importance of this win tonight for the Cubs.
Attempting to defeat the Florida Marlins has been a serious chore for Chicago since April 26th, 2006, the Cubs’ last victory against the Fish.
In fact, entering tonight’s contest the Marlins had defeated Chicago in 10 straight games, marking the longest active winning-streak against a single opponent in the Majors.
Of course, the Marlins are forever linked to the Cubs’ collapse in the 2003 NLCS, including the Bartman game and that dreadful eight-spot during the eighth inning in game 6 of the series.
So, say what you will about the Marlins, but I love the front office efficiency of this club: 15 full seasons in the league, two pennants and two world championships.
Not to mention, the majority of the club’s success has come while operating on a shoestring budget.
Thus, it’s shameful how frequently the Cubs, playing in the game’s third-largest market, have struggled during the Marlins’ entire existence in professional baseball.
Anyway, I think you have to be pleased with Soriano’s return to the lineup.
Wednesday, he goes 1-for-5 with the game-winning RBI and helps rejuvenate the team’s offense to the tune of 10 runs.
And this evening, Fonsy doubles, walks, scores a run and avoids striking out.
Also, it’s obvious the whole Soriano-in-the-leadoff-spot drives many Cubs fans nuts and even more so when he swings away at the first pitch!
But consider this; Soriano is (15-for-35) when putting the first pitch he sees in play, that’s good for a (.428 avg.).
Look, the guy is comfortable in the leadoff spot, so there’s no question in my mind Lou is making the right move by keeping Alfonso penciled into the one-hole.
And more, Henry Blanco continues to show his value as Soto’s backup.
Including Hank White’s sixth inning blast tonight, the veteran backup stopper has hit safely in 12 of his 14 starts this year.
Overall though, the Cubs’ lineup top-to-bottom took a nice, patient approach, against Scott Olsen as well.
Despite the Marlins’ lefty jumping out to a (4-1) record to start the season, he’s struggled since then posting a (1-3) record and 4.88 ERA entering tonight’s start.
And I can’t say enough about Big Z’s performance either, on the mound and at the plate!
The right-handed ace posted his sixth consecutive win at Wrigley, including an ERA of less than 2.00 in his last four home starts.
Plus, he continues the starting staff’s string of nine-straight games of lasting into the sixth inning or longer.
And get this, when Zambrano pitches seven innings or more this year his record is (8-0) with a 1.73 ERA. Awesome!!!
On the other hand, Marmol’s three ninth-inning walks put the Marlins right into its comfort zone: the Fish rank 2nd in the league in walk-off wins (9).
Admittedly, I began preparing myself for Carlos’ ninth-inning collapse.
Although, thankfully, he avoid such a setback.
Seriously, this Cubs team needs help in the backend of the pen; Wood is out until who know when, Howry has been off his game all season and Marmol continues to squirm with what appears to be some mental demons.
ATTENTION JIM HENDRY: GET THIS BULLPEN SOME HELP!
It’d be one thing for the reliever to straighten out their struggles if the Cubs were leading the division by eight games, but the Brewers have shaved the lead down to just one game.
Strengthening the bullpen can’t wait in 2008.
Besides, one only has to remember back to the 2003 NLCS to realize a weak bullpen was the Cubs demise against Florida.
W – Zambrano (11-4) – Marmol (4)
L – Olsen (6-5)
- Notes: The Cubs are the first NL team to reach 60 wins.
- Chicago has not lost consecutive games at Wrigley since dropping the first two games of the season against Milwaukee: March 31st, 4-3 & April 2nd 8-2.
- The Cubs now have three starters with 10 wins or more this season: ‘Z’ (11), Dempster (11) and Lilly (10).
- The season of 1998 marks the last time the Cubs had three starting pitchers with 10 wins or more on its staff: Kevin Tapani (12), Kerry Wood (11) and Steve Trachsel (10).
- Chicago has now plated double-digit runs in 11 games this season, already surpassing its total from 2007 (10 times).