Alfonso Soriano of the Chicago Cubs hits a solo home run against the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Before you get too excited about a baby two-game winning streak, which the Cubs are now on after a 5-3 win over the Padres at Wrigley Field Tuesday afternoon, please recognize that these two wins are in the books because the Cubs finally found a team that's worse than they are.
Seriously. The Cubs scored one of their runs on a balk and a wild pitch, and Darwin Barney hit two doubles, scoring both times. Joe Mather also doubled twice, but also fell down trying to catch what turned into a Padres double. Alfonso Soriano kept up with Albert Pujols by hitting his seventh home run (third in his last four games), sort of a poor man's home-run race. Soriano, incidentally, currently leads Pujols in the following categories: BA, OBP, SLG and RBI. (This won't last, so enjoy it while it's here.)
Soriano also made a nice diving catch on a sinking line drive off the bat of Chris Denorfia and turned it into an inning-ending double play in the sixth inning. Jeff Baker also turned a line-drive DP and also snagged a liner from Yonder Alonso that almost certainly would have scored a run in the eighth inning.
So the Cubs played nice defense, and also got nice pitching from Jeff Samardzija on his bobblehead day, seven-plus innings with eight strikeouts. Shark also singled and walked. It was just the second walk drawn by a Cubs pitcher this season in 102 plate appearances.
The Padres scored first on a Carlos Quentin home run in the fifth, but the Cubs came back with two in the bottom of the inning, the second of those driven in by Samardzija's single, and they might have had more if not for a 3-6-3 double play turned by the Padres. The teams took turns trading runs until Samardzija ran into trouble when he gave up a single and a double to the first two hitters in the eighth. That made it 4-3 Cubs and Dale Sveum called on Shawn Camp, who got out of the inning after inheriting a runner on third with nobody out.
The Cubs put up an insurance run in the last of the eighth and Camp was allowed to start the ninth against Chase Headley.
Now, if you have James Russell as your closer-of-the-week, why not bring him in to face Headley? Camp retired him, and then Sveum called on Russell.
I guess I shouldn't complain, because Russell did finish out the game for his first career save (that is, after a pop fly dropped between three Cubs fielders for a double; to be fair, the wind was pretty tough this afternoon). But Camp had thrown just 17 pitches. Why not let him finish?
At that point, the game was dragging. The first six innings took an hour and 35 minutes; the last three, an hour and 13.
Well, like I said. I guess I shouldn't complain. The Cubs won, it was a beautiful, cooler, less-humid afternoon with an 80-degree temperature and sunshine most of the day, though with a pretty good breeze going. There haven't been that many wins this season, so I suppose I should be glad when they come. BCBer SackMan sat with us today, and ChipSet stopped by to say hello.
The Cubs go for their third straight win, and a series sweep, Wednesday afternoon. They haven't won three straight since last September 10-12, haven't swept a series since last August in Pittsburgh, haven't swept one at home since last July against the Astros.
So it's kind of time for all of those things. Go for it, Cubs. Let us cheer for something, at least, in this lost season.