Casey Coleman of the Chicago Cubs pitches during a game against the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium on May 19, 2011 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
BOSTON -- It's been called many things -- these are the printable ones: Joe Robbie Stadium, Pro Player Stadium, Dolphin Stadium, now Sun Life Stadium -- but the football/baseball stadium located about halfway between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale is the scene of one of the worst Cub fan memories, the Game 5 loss in the 2003 NLCS that could have been the Cubs' ticket to the World Series.
That's why it is, at the very least, of some small satisfaction that the Cubs won the last five games they played there, including tonight, a 5-1 victory over the Marlins of which you, the Cubs fan, can have very, very few complaints. Thus, the complaint department is closed.
About the only thing you could complain about -- if you were so inclined, and on a night when the Cubs won, why would you? -- is Casey Coleman issuing five walks in 5.2 innings of work. Nevertheless, he worked his way out of the trouble each time, and when he was finally removed after 109 pitches, Scott Maine helped him get out of a jam without scoring a run.
The only run scored tonight by the Marlins was a solo home run by Mike Stanton off Kerry Wood. Some of you might complain that shows Wood "doesn't have it", but Stanton is a really, really good hitter and can take just about anyone downtown. So don't be too hard on Kerry for this one, especially since the Cubs won.
The Cubs nursed a 1-0 lead into the fourth inning when Marlon Byrd homered, his second in as many days, and drove in a pair of runs making it 3-0. Starlin Castro hit a two-run double in the ninth inning to provide a cushion, although it took a save opportunity away from Carlos Marmol, who finished anyway with a pair of strikeouts.
Now seriously -- if we're complaining about a lost save op because the Cubs scored too many runs, things must be decent enough, even if it's just for today.
John Grabow also threw a scoreless inning tonight.
Now, Coleman's good outing might raise the question: could the Cubs live with him for another start or three before Randy Wells returns? With all the walks -- 25 issued in 33 innings -- maybe not. Wells will throw another rehab start on Sunday and may be ready to return to the rotation May 27 or 28 against the Pirates at Wrigley Field. That's the best-case scenario for the rotation, which has been somewhat better since Doug Davis joined it and Matt Garza has settled down. All the Cubs now need is for Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano to become the pitchers they were supposed to be before the season started and maybe this team can reel off a winning streak longer than two games. Before the season started, starting pitching was supposed to be a strength of the Cubs; instead, the starters have been pretty bad and it's been the bullpen that's been surprisingly good.
So the Cubs split the first four games of their road trip and have a decent 10-10 record on the road this season, going into the historic series this weekend at Fenway Park. I'm excited to see Fenway for the first time in 28 years and think the pitching matchups -- with the Red Sox rotation also hurting -- might even favor the Cubs.
For those of you coming to the meetup Saturday near Fenway, I look forward to meeting those I haven't yet and to renewing friendships with those I've met before. And just to make everyone feel at home here in Boston -- it's cool and drizzly and there's a fair chance of rain all three nights.
Bring on the Red Sox. Should be fun.