In the bottom of the eighth, after Milton Bradley had struck out with two runners on base, I was sitting in the bleachers thinking gloomy thoughts along the lines of, "What on Earth can I write recapping this disaster?", when Derrek Lee and Geovany Soto suddenly brought life to the blue-shirted portion of today's sellout of 40,467 by slamming back-to-back homers, Lee's into the basket in right, Soto's deep to left-center. It was the Cubs' first multi-homer game since a 7-1 win over the Reds in Cincinnati on June 7, in which Ryan Theriot and Alfonso Soriano homered.
That tied a game that it appeared Carlos Marmol had put out of reach in favor of the White Sox in the top of the eighth by allowing the White Sox three solid hits and two runs. That's only the fourth time all year (in 33 appearances) that Marmol had to be lifted before an inning was over. I'm getting a little worried about him. Fortunately, Sean Marshall put out the fire (after walking Josh Fields) and Kevin Gregg threw a scoreless inning, helped by a nice defensive stop by Theriot, keeping the score tied.
Now, tell me this: even though Soriano has been in a monster slump, why on Earth would you pitch to him with first base open in a tie game with two out in the bottom of the ninth? Theriot hasn't exactly been setting the world on fire, and walking him sets up a force play. Sox fans in the bleachers couldn't believe Ozzie actually went to the mound to discuss it and then decided to pitch to him.
Sori delivered the game-winning single to CF, capping one of the best comebacks of the year and giving the Cubs a 6-5 win over the White Sox.
It is often said about wins like this that they can energize a team and send them on a winning streak. Of course, that's only true in hindsight; perhaps we will look back months from now and say, "That was the game that started the Cubs on their playoff run." All it is, for the moment, is a well-deserved win after the first seven innings were more-of-the-same; wasted opportunties with runners in scoring position, three double plays in the first six innings, and another fine pitching performance from Carlos Zambrano seemingly consigned to the "L" column. Incidentally, if you're thinking about starting the "DP-Lee" talk again after his DP grounder today, don't; that was DP #2 for Lee this year. His production since May 17 now is .362/.439/.574 with 5 doubles, 5 HR and 15 RBI in 94 at-bats.
Z had his heavy sinker working again; in the first five innings there were eight outs recorded on ground balls. The pitch count got a little elevated later and so did his pitches, one of which was driven into the LF bleachers by Alexei Ramirez for a two-run homer after Z's pitch count was already over 110. Lou had Aaron Heilman up in that inning, but apparently thought Z could get Ramirez after the second out was recorded.
I still think a major move needs to be made to pump up this offense; Aaron Miles, who did not start today but came into the game on a double switch in the 9th, grounded out with a chance to win the game and really should just be released. I'd still be in favor of getting Mark DeRosa back. Maybe the Tribe could just leave him here after the weekend. I don't mean to start the back-and-forth firestorm about DeRo again, but since he'll be in town...
Finally, I received multiple emails about nastiness in the game threads today. I don't know how many times I need to play hall monitor and scold you, but the rules of this site are clear. Be passionate about baseball and the Cubs, but be nice to each other. If someone's bothering you, walk away. Thanks for your help in keeping this place an enjoyable place to be for everyone.
And now let's start a long winning streak!