Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Paul Maholm delivers a pitch against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field. Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE
The complaint department is closed!
And so, no one should complain about Starlin Castro's attempt to circle the bases for an inside-the-park home run in the fourth inning of today's 1-0 shutout of the Atlanta Braves, the Cubs' second shutout of the season, and first 1-0 game since a 1-0 win over the Pirates in Pittsburgh on August 3, 2011.
It was their first 1-0 shutout at Wrigley Field since June 13, 2011 against the Brewers.
And it was the fastest game (not shortened by rain) at Wrigley Field since June 11, 2007, a 2-1 win over the Astros. Today's game was two hours and five minutes, and might have broken the two-hour mark if Dale Sveum had brought James Russell in during the inning break prior to the Braves' eighth, rather than waiting until pinch-hitter Tyler Pastornicky was announced.
But like I said, the complaint department is closed!
I would have done the same thing Pat Listach did -- send Castro around third to try to score on his deep drive that settled just under the ivy in deep right field. The way Paul Maholm and Tim Hudson were throwing, even that early, it looked like one run might win the game, and that turned out to be true. Castro didn't really turn it on until he rounded first, and appeared to run out of gas before he was tagged out without even a slide. Still, it was a worthwhile gamble, in my opinion.
Maholm was outstanding; he recorded 13 outs on ground balls and other than the three hits he allowed, just one other baseball left the infield, a fly to center by Dan Uggla in the first inning. It might have been only two hits, but Tony Campana lost a short fly in the sun that was hit by David Ross in the fifth, and it dropped for a single. Funny thing, too, because there wasn't much sun at all most of the day; it was in and out and there were even a few sprinkles on a strange weather day.
That makes four good-to-outstanding starts in a row for Maholm, whose ERA stood at 13.50 after his first two outings; it's 1.07 since then, and his season ERA stands at a reasonable 4.05. Today was also his longest outing of the year, seven innings, and when Sveum let him take the mound for the eighth before Russell came in, I thought he might have been able to go another inning.
Hudson matched Maholm, giving up three hits over the first six innings before David DeJesus led off the seventh with a single. DeJesus advanced to second on a nice sac bunt by Campana and a ground out by Castro, before Bryan LaHair poked a single through the shift into left field to drive him in for the only run of the game.
I'm really coming around to LaHair now. That was a nice, nice piece of hitting, taking the ball the other way.
Russell and Rafael Dolis finished up, and the Cubs had their second straight series win against a very good team, and a winning homestand. Not only that, but the Braves came into this series leading the National League in runs scored, and Cubs pitching held them to four runs in three games. Nicely done. Seriously.
Enjoy the off day. The Cubs and Brewers, who they'll visit this weekend, sit with the same record after today's action: 13-18. This might be a very interesting road trip.