Randy Wells of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the San Francisco Giants in the eighth inning during an MLB baseball game at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California. The Cubs won the game 7-0. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Holy moly, where did that come from?
Where in the script for this awful season did it say this kind of outstanding performance was called for? "Unexpected twist", I suppose. Wells threw 113 pitches (76 strikes) and allowed just a double to Andres Torres and a single to his former teammate Mike Fontenot. He walked one hitter (Torres) and struck out seven. No Cubs reliever even warmed up.
This is how rare Cubs complete games are (let alone CG shutouts): the last Cubs pitcher to throw a CG in a win was Ryan Dempster, who shut out the Pirates on five hits on Sept. 29, 2009. Matt Garza threw a CG in a 1-0 loss to the White Sox on July 2 and Dempster threw an eight-inning CG in a 3-2 loss to the Mariners in Seattle on June 22, 2010.
This lends credence to my thought that Wells came back too soon from the forearm injury (it was never described in any further detail) that put him on the DL after his first regular season start on April 4, when he threw six strong innings vs. the Diamondbacks. Wells had been lights-out in spring training; he missed almost two months with something that didn't seem serious at the time, but clearly was worse than anyone thought. Now, he has had a strong August, with a 3.32 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in six starts. If he can keep this up through September, his overall numbers will be at least decent, and he'll have a good base to build on for 2012.
As amazing as Wells' start was, it wasn't the only big story from Monday night's game.
The Cubs hit four home runs in Monday night's win -- one each from Alfonso Soriano, Geovany Soto (who broke an 0-for-25 slump with his), Carlos Pena and Blake DeWitt (whose three-run job put the game away). That's unusual enough; the Cubs do this about four times a year. It's who they hit three of the home runs off of that makes this worth mentioning.
Tim Lincecum had 149 career starts without allowing three home runs. And yet, there it was; all but Pena's were off Lincecum. Pena hit his off Steve Edlefsen, who was wearing a spring training-like number (65). Further, Lincecum had, before Monday night, a 3.04 career ERA pitching at home. Including last night, in five starts against the Cubs in San Francisco, comprising 31 innings, Lincecum's ERA is 5.23. The Cubs have won four of the five games. Maybe the Giants should just skip The Freak's turn when the Cubs come to town.
And then there's this:
The all-time record for most starts without allowing 3+ homers to begin a career: Greg Maddux with 392. That's 12 full seasons!
So let's just say what the Cubs did Monday night in San Francisco was unusual in just about every facet of the game, not to mention that all of this was accomplished by a team that came into the game 20 games under .500.
The next thing the Cubs pitching staff can shoot for is this: the last time a Cubs staff threw more than two CG in a season was in 2005, when they had eight (three by Greg Maddux, two by Carlos Zambrano, and one each from Mark Prior, Glendon Rusch and Sergio Mitre). There are 27 games remaining this year -- at least that would give us something fun to watch in September, and perhaps some hope for 2012.