Perfect!

You'd never know it by reading this recap or this one, or even this one by friend of BCB Bruce Miles, but in my opinion the biggest story of the Cubs' 5-4 win over the Rangers last night were these boxscore lines:


IP H R ER BB K Marmol (W, 2-0) 3.0 0 0 0 0 5 Howry (H, 9) 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 Dempster (S, 16) 1.0 0 0 0 0 3
That's right, the bullpen which all of us have -- and rightfully so -- dissed most of this season, came through bigtime last night in Arlington, Texas, throwing five perfect innings in relief of Sean Marshall, who had his first shaky start of the season, striking out nine of the fifteen batters they faced, preserving the win.

That's the story -- not some old guy striking out three times, flying out once, and looking really bad doing it.

Sorry, but Sammy Sosa is now old news, and looking like he's about done -- in his last 26 games he is hitting .200/.250/.340 with 35 strikeouts in 100 AB. Sound like a story to you?

Nope, me either. And that's the last I'll write about him unless he does something significant in this series. Lou Piniella says:

"It's not funny, not strange, but maybe apropos that here the Cubbies are in town and Sammy's going for his 600th home run," Piniella said before Tuesday night's game against Texas.

"He was an icon in [Chicago] for a long time, and was well-liked and loved. Sammy can get his 600th home run. Let's just win the ballgames."

Well, I agree with the latter sentiment, but I'd just as soon the "600 Circus" wait till Friday or later.

The Cubs could have scored more runs -- they left nine on base -- but did score in at least one unusual way, a bases-loaded walk to Alfonso Soriano. They also got a two-run triple from Felix Pie. I don't want to sound overconfident, but this series is definitely sweepable -- the Rangers are, as I noted yesterday, a really, really bad team, and, as noted in this diary by BCB reader dfrancon, who was in attendance last night, the Cub fans could have been in the majority of the crowd of 38,290 (7,000 more than the Rangers' average of 31,164.

Notes: Derrek Lee is appealing his suspension; it may take, according to that article, "a couple of weeks" to have the hearing, which means he could time the suspension, if he so chose, to happen during the Washington/Pittsburgh road trip at the beginning of July. You hate to be without D-Lee at all, but if you have to, those might be ones he could miss without the team missing him too much. This almost assures that he won't miss the critical Milwaukee series at home the last weekend of June.

The Cubs are now the only team in the Comedy Central with a non-losing record on the road (17-17; all the other teams, including the first-place Brewers, are under .500 on the road).

Finally, Dodgers pitcher Jason Schmidt will have shoulder surgery today. His return date is "uncertain", but shoulder surgery usually translates as "out for the year". Results for the first year of his three-year, $47 million contract: 1-4, 6.31 ERA.

Criticize Jim Hendry all you want -- and some of that criticism is absolutely justified -- but Ted Lilly and Jason Marquis are the two best free-agent pitcher signings of last offseason.

UPDATE [2007-6-20 8:43:11 by Al]: As reported on ESPN.com, it appears that the Cubs have traded Michael Barrett to San Diego. This BCB diary by indytaz says:

While at the Cubs BCB game on Saturday I told Al that the Padres catcher Rob Bowen was the nephew of my boss and that I wanted him to do well, but with the Cubs still winning. Well, its 7:30 a.m. here and my boss said he just got a call from his sister and that Rob Bowen has been traded to the Cubs. I can not find out who for because I havent seen it announced yet. Just thought I would give everyone a heads up.
I like Bowen, but the Cubs should get more than just Rob Bowen. We await further developments.
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