Blake DeWitt of the Chicago Cubs is congratulated by teammates after hitting a three run home run against the Washington Nationals during the sixth inning at Nationals Park on July 7, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
The recap I was going to write about this game, given what had taken place through five innings, was going to consist of one word:
Instead, I get to write about an amazing comeback win. It may not mean that much with the team still 17 games under .500, but the last time a Cubs team came back from a deficit this large was May 31, 2008, when they were also down eight runs after five innings, 9-1, and came back to beat the Rockies by the same score as tonight's game, 10-9.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the incredible comeback was the six-run inning that made it close; the Cubs got five consecutive hits with two out, capped by a three-run, pinch-hit home run by Blake DeWitt.
As I'm typing these words I still almost can't quite believe the Cubs did come back, especially after blowing a 9-8 lead with Sean Marshall on the mound and getting yet another two-out RBI hit, a double by Darwin Barney that scored Tony Campana, clapping his hands happily, with what turned out to be the winning run.
We don't have a lot to celebrate this season. So celebrate this win. Tons of fun.
I do have to say something about the absolutely atrocious defense that helped lead to a couple of unearned runs (and a whole bunch of earned ones) in the third and fourth innings. Matt Garza made yet another throwing error -- this after doing fielding drills at Wrigley during the last homestand -- his fifth error of the season, and almost all of them on ridiculous throws that never should have been made.
No other NL pitcher has more than three errors this year, and that's only three people.
Then, Barney and Kosuke Fukudome let a short fly ball drop in between them in right field; Bob Brenly was almost beside himself trying to tell everyone how poor the Cubs fundamentals were. And he's right. The first four innings were awful.
But props to the bullpen -- Jeff Samardzija, James Russell, John Grabow, Marshall (despite allowing the run) and Carlos Marmol (despite, as always, making it harrowing) -- for throwing seven innings and giving up just five hits, the one run, and striking out six. Marmol posted his 18th save, which is equal to a save in half the team's wins.
This game does not solve all the issues the Cubs have, from starting pitching to fielding miscues to poor fundamentals. But starting in the sixth inning, the team put on its collective hitting shoes and got clutch hit after clutch hit. Where did this come from? Who knows?
Thanks for the happy ending, though, and with Jose Reyes on the DL and Troy Tulowitzki nursing an injury, could we see Starlin Castro as the starting NL shortstop in the All-Star Game? And maybe Aramis Ramirez, who in 18 games since June 19 is hitting .368/.392/.824 with nine HR and 16 RBI, could get a nod as an injury replacement? (Say what you will about Aramis, but he has the highest season OPS -- .841 following today's game -- of any starting NL third baseman.)
It ought to be a happy team flight to Pittsburgh tonight. Enjoy it, guys. You earned it with Thursday night's win.