This was the pitcher the Cubs traded for a year ago.
The Rich Harden who’s capable of setting down 16 straight batters with ease.
The Cubs needed this sweep of a down-and-out Reds club, and Harden delivered a gem!
What I equally love is Harden dismissing his home and away splits as ‘ridiculous.’
The numbers don’t always tell the whole story, as is the case this season with Rich, so why dwell on them?
If anything, I think the guy’s probably put too much pressure on himself at home where he’s 2-5 overall.
But with today’s outing, there’s no need to get caught up with why Harden has found more success on the road than at Wrigley.
What’s important is that he’s found a nice groove to start the second half, some of which can be credited to his positive mindset.
The recent power surge, six home runs the past three days, has been a huge plus, but I like the fact five runs crossed the plate Sunday without a long ball.
Don’t get me wrong, this club needs its power bats to win the division, but remembering how to create runs is vital down the stretch, especially when facing tougher pitching than Cincy’s.
The one thing I’ll give Milton Bradley credit for is working the count and drawing walks.
For certain, he’s not lived up to the back of his baseball card with Chicago, but the guy gets on base.
This month alone he’s drawn a hefty 18 walks, something that hasn’t been done by a Cubs player since Bill Mueller coaxed 17 during the month of July in 2002.
Lot’s of positives since the All Star break: better hitting, strong pitching and an 8-2 record that’s vaulted the Cubs into first place.
Here’s to not chasing the Cardinals into September!
- The Cubs (51-45) are in first place.
- W: Harden (7-6) Owings (6-11) S: Gregg (21)
- Chicago last held first place on April 21.
- The Cubs have not been six games over .500 since May 18 (21-15).
- Against the NL Central the Cubs are 27-21.
- Justin Berg marks the seventh rookie hurler to spend time with the Cubs this season.
- Chicago’s 106 home runs ranks fourth in the NL.