This wacky season keeps getting stranger.
This is the 13th season the Cubs and Diamondbacks have played, since Arizona came into the National League in 1998. In all that time, 94 games' worth before last night, the Cubs had swept the Diamondbacks in a three-game series exactly twice -- at Wrigley Field from June 5-7, 2000, and again at Wrigley from May 9-11, 2008.
Not only had they never swept them in Phoenix, but they came into this series with a 15-29 all-time record there, and 15-31 if you include the two playoff losses in 2007. Since their last series win there in 2003, they had gone 5-12 in the house of pain once known as Bank One Ballpark, now Chase Field after the banks merged.
The Cubs completed their unexpected sweep of the Diamondbacks with an 8-3 win last night that included Aramis Ramirez's third home run in the last two days -- maybe he's OK after all? -- and a win of the season series 6-1. The Cubs outscored the D'backs this year 56-39 and in the six victories, that margin was 51-26 -- the only loss was a 13-5 blowout at Wrigley Field on April 29 that wouldn't have been that "close" except for a Kosuke Fukudome grand slam in the eighth inning.
Wacky? Let's hope the Cubs keep "wacky" going in Los Angeles this weekend.
It's also the first time the Cubs have won three in a row since they took the last two games in Texas and the first home game against the Dodgers from May 22-25 (an off day included in those dates) -- that's more than six weeks ago. After the May 25 win over the Dodgers the Cubs were only four games off the NL Central lead; now, of course, they trail by a nearly insurmountable 10.5 games.
Still, it's nice to win. Ryan Dempster struggled a bit and had to be pulled after five innings and 98 pitches, allowing all three D'backs runs and posting his seventh victory. Credit to the bullpen (James Russell, Andrew Cashner, Sean Marshall and Justin Berg last night) for throwing four innings of two-hit, no-walk baseball.
In addition to Ramirez's big night -- he's now 12-for-40 (.300) with four HR and eight RBI in his last 10 games -- Starlin Castro drove in a pair of runs and Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee and Marlon Byrd all had a pair of hits.
Think about that -- that's the 2-3-4 hitters all having two hits apiece. When's the last time that happened?
The only down thing that happened last night was Alfonso Soriano being hit in the elbow by an Edwin Jackson pitch. He stayed in to run the bases but was replaced in the field by Tyler Colvin. The Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmyer tweeted that Sori has an "elbow contusion", which hopefully won't keep him out more than a day or two.
The task gets no easier for the rest of this trip -- the Dodgers are only three games out of first place in the West. But the Cubs looked... like a real team, getting solid pitching and hitting with runners on base in Phoenix. If they took that with them to Los Angeles, maybe they can win this series, too.