It may not turn a season around, but there was a lot to like about the Cubs' 5-3 win over the Diamondbacks Saturday night. The win ended the Cubs' April with a 12-14 record -- not great, but considering the pitching injuries and the lack of production from parts of the lineup, not terrible either.
Many people deserve praise for the ninth-inning rally that won the game; Marlon Byrd (who had a tough April) started it with a single; Darwin Barney drove in the winning run; Starlin Castro drove in an insurance run, and manager Mike Quade had his first career ejection arguing a close call at second base (replays showed Quade was wrong and the call was correct). I can't say enough good things about what Barney and Castro have done for this team.
But I'm going to single out one thing in that inning that was perhaps the most critical of all -- an outstanding 11-pitch at-bat from Tyler Colvin, pinch-hitting for Matt Garza. Colvin quickly went down 0-2. He fouled off several pitches and wound up working a walk. Not only did this provide another baserunner, but it made D'backs closer J.J. Putz work a lot harder -- he eventually threw 30 pitches in the inning -- and maybe helped lead to the game-winning hits.
Saturday night, Garza showed everyone why the Cubs sent so much to the Rays for him. He became only the second Cubs starter to go into the eighth inning this year, striking out 10 and for the sixth consecutive start (longest stretch of his career) did not allow a home run. His 51 K's now lead the major leagues, and he's thrown seven fewer innings than the pitcher who's second to him (Jered Weaver of the Angels with 49). He posted his first "win" of the season, though individual pitcher wins don't mean that much any more with bullpen use the way it is in modern baseball. Garza also lowered his ERA to 3.96, almost exactly in line with his career ERA (3.97) and his season ERAs the last two years in Tampa (3.91, 3.95).
So, in the words of Dennis Green: "He is who we thought he would be."
The other thing of note from last night's game was Alfonso Soriano's 10th home run of the season (and fourth in his last three games). It wasn't an ordinary home run -- it hit off the bottom of the scoreboard in dead center field in Chase Field. The only other player who's done that was Richie Sexson, for the D'backs against the Cubs on April 26, 2004. Two days after that Sexson suffered a season-ending injury while batting against the Cubs. Let's hope that history doesn't repeat itself.
The Cubs will go after the series win this afternoon with Casey Coleman on the mound. The game preview will post here at 1 p.m. CDT. However, there's one small item that needs to be mentioned first -- the announcement yesterday that James Russell will get one more start, on Monday in Los Angeles. Thus, the Cubs have essentially made the statement that they don't care about winning Monday's game.
Seriously, isn't there anyone else in the entire organization who's stretched out and can start? This is just a horrifically bad idea. The only good news from that link is this:
With days off, the Cubs won't need a fifth starter after Monday until May 14 against the Giants.
By then, they hope that Doug Davis, who threw in an extended spring training game yesterday in front of Jim Hendry and Mark Riggins, will be ready. (Here's a little more about Davis' outing on Saturday.) Again, according to that linked Tribune article above:
Davis is set to begin a rehab stint Thursday at either Class A Peoria or Class A Daytona, and then is to make a start May 10 at Triple-A Iowa.
Hmmm. May 10 is too close to May 14 for him to be able to do both, but maybe that rehab schedule can be adjusted. Doug Davis is no savior, but he used to baffle Cubs hitters with the breaking-pitch slop he throws. Maybe he can do the same to Cubs opponents.