Darwin Barney of the Chicago Cubs scores the winning run as Wil Nieves of the Milwaukee Brewers makes the tag on June 13, 2011 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Brewers 1-0. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
What a refreshing change!
Not only did the Cubs beat the Brewers 1-0 Monday night, their second 1-0 win of the year (they haven't lost 1-0 this year, and this was the 20th 1-0 game of the 2011 season), but they did it by executing fundamentals well.
Yes, I'm talking about the Cubs. Pick yourself up off the floor.
First was Ryan Dempster's outstanding pitching. He had a bit of a shaky first inning, allowing a single and a stolen base, but after the SB Prince Fielder was intentionally walked and the inning ended on a fly ball to right. In the next inning, Starlin Castro made a throwing error (an error that might not have happened if Carlos Pena had been at 1B to make the scoop), but that was erased on a double play.
Then the Cubs got in trouble in the fifth; Yuniesky Betancourt led off with a double and went to third on a dribbler in the infield.
With pitcher Randy Wolf at the plate, Milwaukee tried a squeeze. Wolf missed the ball and Betancourt was caught in a rundown. The Cubs made five throws in the rundown -- usually, the more throws you make, the bigger the chance the rundown will fail -- but all of them were accurate, and Geovany Soto tagged Betancourt out.
That's the closest the Brewers came to scoring. Other than Ryan Braun's steal in the first inning, Betancourt, and Wolf (who doubled after the failed squeeze), no Brewer got past first base.
Meanwhile, the Cubs were just about as impotent offensively. Starlin Castro led off the first inning with a double, but was stranded; he singled and stole second in the third, same result. No other Cub got past first base until Lou Montanez and DJ Le Mahieu singled back-to-back with one out in the seventh; they, too, were stranded. Blake DeWitt had a particularly bad at-bat pinch-hitting for Dempster, flying out on the first pitch.
It looked like this game might head into long extra innings with no one scoring. Jeff Samardzija took over Kerry Wood's eighth-inning role and threw an 1-2-3 inning. But in the last of the eighth, the Cubs executed yet again. After Darwin Barney singled, Pena batted for Jeff Baker and doubled high off the wall in left. With the infield in, Barney executed a perfect fadeaway, head-first slide into the plate on an infield grounder by Aramis Ramirez, and scored the game's only run.
Yes, this is the Cubs I'm talking about.
It's been so long since a day at Wrigley didn't involve either:
- a loss;
- being rained on, or
- being freezing cold
... or all three of the above, that I had almost forgotten what it felt like to see solid, winning baseball. It may only last one day, but it was certainly enjoyable. Of the 39,070 announced crowd on a coolish but pleasant evening, maybe 30,000 showed up and not only saw a win, but a game that ended just past 9:30 (2:28 of playing time).
Really, you can't ask for more. Perhaps another win tonight. (If it's not too much to ask.)