Starlin Castro of the Chicago Cubs hits a two-run homer against the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
If you are of "a certain age", you will remember days like this during the 1970s, when Cubs hitters and their opponents regularly blasted baseballs into the Wrigley Field bleachers and onto Waveland and Sheffield Avenues when the wind was blowing out.
It was a day like that on Monday afternoon -- hot, humid, wind blowing straight out -- and the Cubs and Padres combined for eight home runs. The Cubs got the best of that deal by having three of their four homers with men on base and had their biggest offensive output of the season in an 11-7 win over the Padres, snapping the 12-game losing streak that seemed to sap the energy out of just about everyone associated with this franchise, from players to management to fans.
If you watched or attended this game, you have witnessed 18% of all the home runs the Padres have hit this entire season -- four out of 22. Meanwhile, the last time as many as eight home runs were hit in a game at Wrigley Field was July 2, 2006, when the Cubs hit five and the White Sox four in a game the Cubs wound up winning 15-11.
These kinds of games are fun! Let's count up all the scoring and offensive production by the Cubs, shall we?
The 11 runs was just one fewer than the Cubs had in their last seven games combined. Home runs were hit by Darwin Barney, Ian Stewart, Alfonso Soriano and Starlin Castro. Both Castro's and Soriano's landed on Waveland, and Soriano's was a rocket that nearly went up Kenmore Avenue.
The Padres responded with four of their own -- two from Chase Headley and one each from Will Venable and Everth Cabrera. Cabrera entered the day hitting .194 and had three career home runs in 726 plate appearances. When Headley hit his second of the day, it tied the game at six, and the Padres took the lead off Randy Wells in the seventh inning and looked like they might be setting up for more, when Ian Stewart threw out Headley at the plate on a nice throw. Stewart also made a couple of other nice defensive plays Monday afternoon.
Soriano and Bryan LaHair had three hits each -- nice to see LaHair coming out of his mini-slump, and the second hit, a single to left, was off lefthanded reliever Alex Hinshaw. Castro had two hits and David DeJesus had a pair of triples. I'd tell you who the last Cub with two triples in a game before this was, but baseball-reference.com's search form is being balky this afternoon, and I can't get it to return any results on my search. (And this is unusual -- bb-ref is an invaluable resource and I spend much time every day looking up stuff there. Hope they get this fixed soon.)
Cubs pitching wasn't very good Monday, but it was good enough, I suppose, given that the offense provided more than enough runs. The bullpen did a good job, allowing just one run over the last four innings, also not issuing any walks over that span, which is enough of an achievement for this team. In fact, there were only three walks in the entire game, all issued by Cubs starter Travis Wood. That is a surprising fact, because these two pitching staffs came into the game ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the National League in most walks allowed.
Maybe that's in part because Dale Sveum did not allow the just-activated Carlos Marmol into the game, although Marmol was warming up at one point, wearing high socks. He looked strange wearing those socks; maybe he's trying to change his luck. He could use it.
Speaking of bullpens, I heard today that the orientation of the right-field bullpen mound and plate have been shifted slightly so that the visiting bullpen catcher doesn't have to look right into the advertising sign on the new RF LED board. We won't really know if this worked until the next homestand, because the only complaints registered by visiting teams were during night games, when the sign appears much brighter.
Monday's win solves none of the problems of this team. At 16-32 they are still on pace for a 108-loss season. But a win is always nice. Perhaps there will be another one tomorrow.