It took five months, but the Cubs finally equalled their longest winning streak of the year: four games.
Maybe it doesn't mean that much, but perhaps more impressive is that all of these wins are on the road (the previous four-game streak was a three-game sweep at Milwaukee followed by a win at Wrigley over the Nationals), and the Cubs are 6-1 on the current road trip with two games remaining.
Actually, tonight was pretty impressive. Coming into today the Cubs were 32-35 all-time in [Insert Corporate Sponsor Here] Stadium in south Florida, and had won only one series in Miami since 2005 (two out of three in 2008 -- combined from 2006-2009 the Cubs were 3-9 in the facility that's far beter suited for football).
The Cubs shut out the Marlins 2-0, and it took a gutty pair of strikeouts by Ryan Dempster with runners on second and third in the seventh inning with the humidity level about 1,000%, and then a sprawling, diving catch by Starlin Castro to preserve the save for Carlos Marmol (#32) after Marmol had walked the first two men in the ninth inning.
The announced crowd of 22,751 looked like less than half that many in the cavernous stadium, many of them wearing Cubs blue. The Cubs took the lead on a double by Alfonso Soriano with a runner on in the second and increased it to 2-0 when Geovany Soto doubled in Xavier Nady in the sixth.
Criticize Soriano all you want, but that was his 36th double of the year, which ranks tied for eighth in the NL, just behind Marlon Byrd (37). He's hitting .256/.319/.499 -- an .818 OPS, very close to his career OPS (.834). He's tied for the team RBI lead now with Aramis Ramirez (75) and has played a better left field this year. (OK, I'm trying to ignore the misplay he made in the sixth inning that gave the Marlins' Logan Morrison a leadoff double.) Yes, his contract calls for too many dollars. But it is done, and the Cubs will live with it -- and he's been productive this year and with two more games played will establish a high for that category since he came to the Cubs in 2007.
The win made the Cubs 15-7 under Mike Quade and 10-4 in what is becoming a September to remember. Obviously, it won't mean a postseason berth, but I'd much rather see the Cubs finish strong, especially when guys like Castro, Tyler Colvin (who we hope to see back in the lineup tomorrow), and Andrew Cashner (who showed off a nasty breaking ball Friday night) are major contributors. Those guys, along with Darwin Barney and Blake DeWitt and Soto, and others to come, are going to be the core of next year's team and we hope, champions to come.
Keep the winning going. It's much more fun this way.