You may never see this again: Aramis Ramirez of the Chicago Cubs rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Petco Park in San Diego has a reputation as being a difficult stadium to hit home runs in; this year's park factor list shows it as being 23rd among the 30 MLB parks in HR park factor (Wrigley Field is right in the middle at 15th).
Nevertheless, it was home runs that won Tuesday night's game for the Cubs, 6-2 over the Padres. Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano both hit their 26th home runs of the season. For Aramis, it could be his last in a Cubs uniform, unless he hits one or more this evening. Personally, I hope the new general manager quickly locks A-Ram up to a new contract. The Cubs can't do better than that at third base for the next two or three years, and he has been the best offensive performer at third base in the NL this season.
As for Soriano's blast, I thought Gordon Wittenmyer (who tweeted way too many of Mike Quade's nicknames last night) was funny:
There's often truth in humor. Maybe there's a team that would pay 20% of Soriano's deal for him to DH for the next three years (hellooooo, Yankees?). Some props for prescience to Len & Bob, who had just finished mentioning that Soriano was 5-for-11 lifetime with two doubles and a homer vs. Padres reliever Chad Qualls when Sori hit his blast over the wall in deep center field.
Meanwhile, Matt Garza made just one major mistake in Tuesday's game, and that was hit by Kyle Blanks of the Padres for a two-run double in the second inning, giving San Diego a 2-0 lead. But that was all Garza allowed; he wound up throwing a large number of pitches (122) in seven innings, and then was removed trailing 2-1. Soriano's home run in the top of the eighth put the Cubs in position to get Garza his 10th win of the year, and they added a pair in the ninth on a two-run single by Blake DeWitt. Garza has been outstanding since August 1; in 11 starts he has posted a 6-2 W/L record (and more importantly, the Cubs are 9-2 in those starts) with a 2.24 ERA, a WHIP of 1.152 and just five home runs allowed in 76.1 innings. Do that for a whole season and you're the "ace" everyone loves to have.
Anyway, Soriano's blast took the game out of a save situation, but Carlos Marmol had been warming up, and so Carlos Marmol came into the game. (Props to Sean Marshall for striking out two Padres after Jeff Samardzija had left him with a mess in the eighth).
There doesn't seem to be any way Marmol comes into a game these days without creating some drama. He threw 31 pitches -- only 17 strikes -- and issued a pair of walks. Len & Bob noted on the CSN telecast that hitters are simply waiting Marmol out now, because they know he's not throwing many strikes. After those walks, Marmol ran the count to 3-2 on Jason Bartlett before getting him to swing and miss at a slider to end the game.
So the Cubs go into the final game of the season Wednesday night at 71-90; I know many here felt that this number of wins was about where this team could be projected. Turns out you were right. It would still be nice to end the season with another win.