I told BCB reader dat cub fan daver, who joined us in the bleachers for today's 11-3 Cubs blowout of the Padres, that "now you have to come back every day!"
It was that kind of day, as the Cubs swept a really bad Padres team and won their fourth in a row. Walks did most of the damage, as the Cubs drew four straight walks in the fifth inning and five that inning in all, sending eleven men to the plate and scoring six runs on only three hits. One of the hits was a two-run double by Bobby Scales, who sent another ball to the wall in the sixth. He drove in four runs in all and is hitting .444 in his brief major league career. He has now hit in all six games in which he's played, the longest streak by a Cub to start a career since Jerome Walton hit in his first seven games in 1989.
This isn't to say that Scales could win a Rookie of the Year award like Walton did (and we'd hope his career doesn't end as poorly as Jerome's), but this is a wonderful story. You already know the details of Bobby's 11-year minor league odyssey and the fact that he's only still in the majors due to the injury to Aramis Ramirez. If he keeps playing like this in A-Ram's absence, the Cubs will have some choices to make when Aramis returns. Not only is Scales playing well, but his positive attitude has to be rubbing off on his teammates. What a terrific story he is; you can't help but root for him, as I think everyone loves underdogs who succeed.
It wasn't just Scales today; Kosuke Fukudome also had two hits, as did Aaron Miles and Reed Johnson, and the Cubs drew ten walks off ex-Cub Chad Gaudin and three relievers (finally, Bud Black sent closer Heath Bell to the mound, and he didn't walk anyone). It was a close game till the fifth inning, with yet another Adrian Gonzalez homer tying the game at one in the fourth. This one made Sheffield (yes, this time for sure), although it probably wouldn't have on any other day. Today, the wind was blowing out to RF at a higher reported speed (16 MPH) than last night, but perhaps due to the lower humidity, the balls weren't carrying as much as they were last night. Gonzalez, who is now leading the major leagues with 14 homers, had the only dinger today.
On a beautiful, sunny, mid-60's afternoon, the kind we just don't get enough of in mid-May in Chicago, Ryan Dempster's pitching was as gorgeous as the weather. He had command of all his pitches, walked only two, and allowed just two hits apart from Gonzalez's homer. He won his third game of the year and lowered his ERA to 4.65 (still not great, but a third of a run cut off the 4.98 he entered the game with). Dempster also had two hits, including a sixth-inning RBI double that nearly wound up in the left-field seats. Jose Ascanio threw the last two innings, and apart from one mistake which Drew Macias deposited in the right-field bleachers, pitched well. He also had his first major league at-bat in the bottom of the eighth, which resulted, as you might imagine from a relief pitcher, in a strikeout.
My dad, who is 87 years old and in town this weekend, hadn't been to a Cubs game in probably 20 years, since I last brought him to the bleachers. He bought Jessica's tickets and enjoyed himself. I told him that he, too, needed to come back tomorrow, with the big win.
Leftover oddity from last night's game: San Diego's Duaner Sanchez (who got pounded today) had been announced to pitch the bottom of the 8th for the Padres, since their previous pitcher, Luke Gregerson, was removed for a pinch hitter in the top of the inning. Sanchez never threw a pitch because of the rain, but he is credited with an appearance.
Finally, I want to add my disgust over MLB's handling of the Milton Bradley suspension appeal. While the suspension was reduced to one game, the Cubs weren't notified until after today's game was already in progress; since Bradley was sitting on a scheduled day off today, he will have to serve the suspension tomorrow and miss the opener against Houston. I thought that in the case of the incidental contact made, that any suspension at all was not justified and probably made on Bradley's reputation rather than on the specific incident. To not eliminate the suspension is a slap in the face to the Cubs and Bradley. Fortunately, others have stepped up during the time Milton has been off, and Reed Johnson had a nice day today with two hits, so he can play CF again tomorrow vs. the Astros while Kosuke Fukudome, also hot, can play another game in RF. The Brewers beat the Marlins again today, so they are temporarily in first place, half a game ahead of the Cubs, who are currently tied with the Cardinals and Reds, pending the outcome of the Reds/Diamondbacks game tonight.
Onward to tomorrow and let's keep it going against the Astros (Astros, again?).