Neither a Sonny & Cher nor a Britney Spears song, the Cubs nevertheless kept pounding rhythm through our brains with a 12-3 win over the Pirates last night before a crowd of 14,454 in Pittsburgh that seemed, as many road games do these days, about half Cubs fans. It put the Cubs over .500 on the road at 32-31; only four other teams (Angels, Cardinals, Brewers, Phillies) have winning road records this year.
Aramis Ramirez hit his third three-run homer in the last three games, bumping his RBI total to 94, which now ranks fifth in the National League. His 23rd HR of the season was his 22nd career dinger against his former team and his 38th at PNC Park -- even though he hasn't been a Pirate in more than five years and he played home games there for only a little more than two full years (A-Ram's Pirates debut and his first couple of years there were in Three Rivers Stadium, through the 2000 season). The 38 HR ranks fourth among all players at PNC, and two of the other three (Jason Bay and Brian Giles) are no longer Pirates. A-Ram's OPS continued its upward climb last night (to .908), perhaps putting him in position to get some MVP votes, and maybe his most impressive number is .385, his OBA, which would be a career high; he has already drawn a career-high 64 walks.
Four different Cubs (Jim Edmonds, Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee and Kosuke Fukudome) had three hits last night; Lee, obviously not bothered by the back spasms that forced him to leave Saturday's game, has started to spray hits all over the place again, as has Fukudome. Dome's three-hit game produced a career-high four RBI (his previous high of three was set with that three-run homer he hit on Opening Day), and though two games are an extremely small sample size, it seems as if Dome has gone back to the approach that got him off to the good start that he had in April. Lou says if he keeps it up, he'll be moved back to 5th in the batting order. I'm not so sure I'd do that -- the Cubs have been very successful with Edmonds hitting fifth and Dome batting seventh or even eighth -- but regardless, it'd be great to get Dome back on track. That article also says that Angel Guzman and Jon Lieber are likely to both be activated from the DL after September 1 and Micah Hoffpauir will be recalled, even though Iowa has made the PCL playoffs.
The rest of the team hit and scored virtually at will last night, piling up seventeen hits and four walks, seven of the hits for extra bases including a triple by Edmonds, his second three-base hit of the year. The pitching staff did as needed -- Ted Lilly gave up two more HR, and that's a bit worrisome as he is leading the majors in HR allowed with 29, but he allowed only seven hits, struck out seven, and Bob Howry (good news!) threw a scoreless inning and Kerry Wood, who normally wouldn't have been used in a 9-run blowout, also threw a shutout inning, mainly because he hadn't thrown since last Thursday. He threw only 13 pitches (9 strikes) so he should be available tonight.
More history: the Cubs are 31 games over .500 for the first time since September 30, 1984, the last day of that regular season; they finished 1984 at 96-65. Their peak that year was 32 games over, at 90-58 on September 15. Before that, the last time the Cubs were 32 games over .500 was on September 2, 1969, at 84-52.
History is being made every day with the 2008 Cubs. I marvel. Keep it going. Onward to tonight.