With every win -- including last night's 11-7 win over the Braves -- this year's Cubs make their mark on the record books and on team history. Among things accomplished last night were the following:
- The Cubs swept the season series from the Braves for the first time in the 133-year history of the rivalry. Now, this doesn't mean as much as it would have back in the 1940's when teams played each other 22 times (incidentally, in 1945 they came close, going 21-1 vs. the Reds), but nevertheless, a sweep is a sweep.
- The Cubs have won eight straight road games for the first time since 1945, when they had a 12-game road win streak. And this in a season where, up to now, they have struggled on the road.
- Aramis Ramirez hit his 20th HR; that gives him five straight seasons with at least 20 HR and 30 doubles, the first Cub to do so since Hack Wilson (1926-30). Yes, that's right, Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Sammy Sosa never accomplished this feat.
- And, the Cubs won despite having an opposing player -- Mark Kotsay -- hit for the cycle. It was the first cycle against the Cubs since Willie McGee on June 23, 1984. The Cubs won that game too -- it was the famed "Sandberg Game".
Meanwhile, the Cubs hit early and often, taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a Reed Johnson single and then a bases-loaded walk; the Cubs waited out Tom Glavine, who was on a pitch count. In all, the Cubs drew eight bases on balls last night and had 14 hits, with six different Cubs having at least two hits, including Kosuke Fukudome, who went 4-for-10 in the last two games in Atlanta and maybe, just maybe, that's the first sign of him coming out of his slump. Glavine, returning from the DL to what he called an "audition" for next year, may be on his way to retirement. The Cubs, however, were just on their way to scoring seemingly at will, and they needed to, because the Braves kept clawing within range, mainly thanks to Kotsay.
And also thanks -- or no thanks -- to Bob Howry, who, just as he did on July 23 in Arizona, came in with a seven-run lead and turned it into a four-run lead, this time by serving up a three-run homer to Jeff Francoeur. It's pretty pointless to yell "DFA Howry!" on August 15 -- the rosters expand in a couple of weeks and the Cubs will presumably have some bullpen reinforcements, but I hope Lou won't let Howry near any key late-inning situation. It also seems likely that Howry may be left off any postseason rosters.
Meanwhile, Ramirez, who also singled and scored, hurt his hip when executing a slick-looking diving slide into the plate in the fifth inning on a Geovany Soto double -- the ball falling in between Kotsay and Francoeur after Kotsay lost the ball, apparently in the lights, or in the dusky sky, or both. A-Ram lay on the ground in apparent pain for some time, then left the field under his own power. The injury doesn't appear to be serious and he may be available today. Kerry Wood, however, may not, after throwing 25 pitches in a non-save situation. Carlos Marmol, who didn't pitch at all in Wednesday's doubleheader and who threw only 11 pitches (10 strikes) last night, could close if Wood can't.
Ted Lilly, who threw a decent but not great game last night, hit Yunel Escobar in the upper arm with a pitch in the sixth inning. Lilly says it wasn't intentional. The Braves say it was. It had better be the last time.
Ryan Theriot got picked off for the second day in a row. It had better be the last time.
END HYPERBOLE ALERT!Onward to Florida. That place makes me nervous.