Yesterday I was waiting for the train to take me home. A young, African-American, gentleman walked past me, said hello, and went to use the public restroom. So far so normal. He came out of the bathroom a few minutes later wearing a micro-mini, a waist length dread-lock wig, stiletto heeled boots and fishnets. Not nearly as normal as I’d originally thought. He(?) then pulled out a pink cell phone and proceeded to confirm his(?) date with someone named Nick. My first fear was that he(?) was calling our blogger Nick, who has been known to stray from more conventional paths, but those fears were allayed when I heard him(?) say “I know what you mean, I hate sports too.”
Yes you can mix wild game and midget porn, but please be careful and read the instructions carefully.
Anyway, none of this is what I came here to write about today. Nay I say unto thee, I came instead to talk of some incredible records that are popping up around us.
Let’s take a look at one record that’s developing right in front of our eyes and no one with an active brain cell thinks it’s real. Yet, here it is, The Cubs are on place to not only restore some personal dignity but to actually make the playoffs. And, yes, I’m aware of their record.
Cash Kruth takes a cautious peek at what’s happening on the Northside.
Sometime soon, the Cubs will trade their valuable assets and build toward the future.
Until those deals happen, the 25 players on Chicago’s roster figure they’ll do everything they can to prove the Cubs aren’t as bad as much of the first half indicated.
On Thursday, they once again did a pretty darn good job.
Cubs left-hander Paul Maholm tossed eight innings of one-run ball and left fielder Alfonso Soriano’s solo home run sparked a four-run fifth, as the Cubs beat the Marlins, 4-2, on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
The victory improved the Cubs to 14-5 in their last 19 games, the best record in the Majors since June 25. It also capped a 5-1 homestand coming out of the All-Star break, giving Chicago wins in 10 of its last 12 at Wrigley Field.
All of that from a team in sell mode as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline nears.
“This team is obviously pretty good,” said outfielder Reed Johnson, who went 2-for-4 and made a diving catch in the eighth inning. “We’ve played some tough games and had some really good results of late, so hopefully it shows we’re not as far away as we thought we were.”
Thursday’s recipe was similar to the Cubs’ last 19 games: Solid starting pitching and timely hitting.
Maholm (8-6, 4.09 ERA) scattered five hits while walking one and striking out four. His lone blemish came in the sixth inning, when Marlins pinch-hitter Donovan Solano led off with a triple and scored on center fielder Emilio Bonifacio’s groundout to second.
The left-hander earned his fourth straight win, trying a career high accomplished three times previously, including April 21-May 9 this season. He has a 0.89 ERA in that span.
“When your starters are going out there giving up one or none for six, seven innings, and the back end of that bullpen is doing their job, that’s going to lead to a lot of wins,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
Marlins left-hander Mark Buehrle (9-9, 3.29)—the former White Sox pitcher making his first start in Chicago since signing with Miami this offseason—equaled Maholm through the first four innings before getting hit hard in the fifth.
Soriano led off the inning by launching Buehrle’s 2-2 fastball into the left-field bleachers for the game’s first run. It was Soriano’s 18th homer of the season and 150th as a Cub. He is the 13th player in club history to reach that milestone.
Right fielder Jeff Baker followed with a single, catcher Geovany Soto walked and second baseman Darwin Barney also singled to load the bases. Third baseman Luis Valbuena lifted a sacrifice fly to deep center, scoring Baker and advancing both Soto and Barney. After Maholm struck out, Johnson hit a two-out, two-run single.
“Soriano’s home run was huge,” Sveum said. “Obviously he was pitching well, and then to come back and Reed Johnson’s two-out base hit to left field was kind of the backbreaker for Buehrle.”
Solano pinch-hit for Buehrle in the sixth, as the lefty was removed after allowing four runs on six hits as his four-game winning streak was snapped. Despite being 10-18 against left-handed starters this season, the Cubs have now won six of their last seven, and seven of their last nine such contests.
“Today, it seemed like it was a close game for the first four innings, and then they scored some runs, and the crowd was kind of into it a little bit,” said Buehrle, who lost to the Cubs for the first time since June 22, 2007.
Johnson, who shifted to right field in the eighth inning, also made a diving catch in the right-center field gap in the top of the eighth. Shortstop Starlin Castro climbed the ladder to rob Jose Reyes of a hit in the sixth, while Soriano made a nice running catch in the fourth.
“It was huge. I’m sure if that gets by him, I’m probably done,” Maholm said of Johnson’s catch. “Whenever he hit it, I kind of gave up in my mind that he just got a triple. Reed, obviously, is a very good defensive outfielder and made an unbelievable catch.”
Cubs closer Carlos Marmol allowed one run in the ninth before converting his 10th straight save opportunity.
The Cubs now leave the Friendly Confines and travel to St. Louis, where they begin a three-game series with the Cardinals on Friday and look to continue to ride their momentum.
“Obviously at the beginning of the year, it was going in the other direction for us,” Johnson said. “We had losing streaks and we were trying too hard to get out of those losing streaks that we kept going in the wrong direction. When you’re winning ballgames, you want to keep that good feel, and I think that’s what’s going on.”
Let’s take a step back from reality and play some “what if” for a minute. Dempster is gone. All that is being discussed now is what the Cubs get in return. Let’s say they get a couple of major league ready guys. Not Dempster level players, but a couple of decent arms they can keep for a couple of years while they develop their farm system. With their current hitting and defense that might be enough to keep them competitive. And, as constituted, there is no reason the Cubs can’t become the first team to hold a .700 winning percentage for two or more consecutive months. Which would put them in the playoffs. Which would make this city rock.
Which would earn me beer.
I’m a tad target focused when it comes to beer.
On the Southside a record was broken. It was a record I didn’t know existed. Jose Quintana pitched 8 shut out innings and lost or got a no-decision for the third time this year. That is the first time that has happened to a pitcher since 1900 when they began paying attention to stuff like that. Scott Merkin was at the game and poured a bottle of cheap tequila down Quintana’s throat. It was the humane thing to do.
At the point of impact, Addison Reed took a few steps toward home plate and then gave a cursory look over his right shoulder.
Cody Ross delivered his signature bat flip, the same one he had enacted a couple of times the night before.
Regardless of the tone or nature of their actions, both the White Sox closer and the Red Sox hero realized this ninth-inning drive was long gone.
Ross connected for his 16th home run with one out and two on, erasing a White Sox advantage and giving the Red Sox a 3-1 walk-off victory on Thursday night before a frenzied 38,413 faithful at Fenway Park. It was a game where the White Sox (50-42) certainly played well enough to win, but they didn’t quite do enough to prevent their third loss in four games to the Red Sox (48-45) and first series setback since losing two of three at home to the Cubs from June 18-20.
This punch-to-the-gut result seemingly increased the drama for the end of the White Sox 10-game road trip to start the second half that has them currently standing at 3-4, with a trip to Comerica Park on the docket for this weekend. The red-hot Tigers (49-44) have moved to within 1 1/2 games of first place in the American League Central.
But the White Sox have been in this position before. In fact, they suffered the same sort of walk-off heartbreaker against the Tigers on May 4 when Jhonny Peralta took Matt Thornton deep. So, resiliency once again needs to be a trademark of the division leaders.
“Just like we’ve done all year,” said Reed, who suffered his third blown save in 18 opportunities. “Forget about it and go out there tomorrow and it’s a huge game. It’s us and Detroit right now battling for first. So hopefully we’ll go in there and sweep the series.”
“Those are games that sting,” said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of his team’s fourth walk-off loss this year. “But by the time we get to Detroit, we’ll be ready to go.”
Ventura has been praised for the calm, cool and collected way he has run this team, both in good times and bad. The first-year manager will have more than his share of second-guessers for the way the White Sox ninth inning was handled at Fenway.
Rookie Jose Quintana was brilliant once again, hurling eight shutout innings, while giving up five hits, striking out two and not issuing a walk. Three of those hits came in the seventh, when the Red Sox loaded the bases with one out, but Quintana induced a double-play grounder from Will Middlebrooks as the culmination of an eight-pitch at-bat to preserve the White Sox one-run lead.
At 103 pitches, though, Ventura decided to go to his bullpen to start the ninth. Instead of starting with his closer, Ventura turned to left-hander Thornton to counteract the left-handed bats of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez up first and third in the inning.
“You can go back out there with him, but you are eventually going to go to those guys anyway if he gets in trouble. So you go to the guys who are fresh,” Ventura said. “He did his job and he got out of some tough spots. So, that’s my call to take him out and bring somebody else in.”
“That’s the manager’s choice,” said Quintana through translator and White Sox manager of cultural relations Jackson Miranda. “It’s one of those that this is going to happen. It won’t be the first or the last time. It’s just something that some days you have some good outings and some days you don’t. You have to go out there and keep playing.”
Thornton gave up a leadoff single to Crawford, and after third baseman Eduardo Escobar’s double-clutch cost the White Sox a double-play on Dustin Pedroia’s grounder, Gonzalez singled to right on a 0-2 pitch. Ventura replaced Thornton with Reed, and three pitches later, Ross delivered.
“I want to be the guy up every time in that situation. I always have my whole life,” Ross said. “I just like that pressure and I like just being there in the moment. I can’t really compare it to anything. It’s just a great feeling especially when you come though and you’re a hero. There’s no better feeling.”
“It was supposed to be a fastball away and it sailed over the plate and he got a good piece of it,” Reed said. “He’s been hot this whole series and it was a bad pitch and he hit it. It’s unfortunate. Quintana threw his [butt] off and there’s nothing else he could have done. He did everything. It [stinks] we didn’t come out with a win.”
Alfredo Aceves (1-6) earned the win in relief of Clay Buchholz, who gave up one run over eight innings. Quintana’s three starts of eight scoreless innings or more this season are tied for second behind a group of seven pitchers at four, including Detroit’s Justin Verlander.
Verlander was the last rookie hurler to have at least three outings of eight scoreless innings or more in 2006. On Friday, Verlander tries to bring the Tigers one step closer to first place in the series opener.
Jake Peavy gets the call for the White Sox. Peavy left Boston to arrive in Detroit early on Thursday, and despite an airport delay, probably was in flight when the Red Sox claimed victory. It will be easy for him to forget the celebration his teammates witnessed.
“We are going to come back and play,” Ventura said. “This team is resilient.”
Moving forward, teams that beat the Tigers do one thing and do it often. Ground balls to first and third. Barring a miracle over 80% of them end up in the outfield. They have the worst corner defenders I have ever seen. After that everything falls into place.
Just keep pounding them out and letting Adam Dunn be the base-running threat he has morphed into.
Did I really write that?
Worse yet, is it really true?
Oh hell, it’s bourbon o’clock somewhere and that’s good enough for me.
Follow us on Twitter!
Page 1 of 1 pages