If you closed your eyes and pretended real hard, you could imagine Tuesday night that it was still 2008, and the Cubs were on their best run in the last 80 years, on the way to winning two consecutive division titles.
They took advantage of an opposition error! They got good work out of the bullpen! Their starting pitcher had a shaky inning, but helped himself out with a nice fielding play and settled down and got the win!
All right. You can come back to reality now. The Cubs' 2-1 win over the White Sox gave them their first series win at the Cell since they swept a three-game set there in 2007, but all it did was move them from 21 games under .500 to 20 games under .500. There is, of course, still serious work to do before this team is a contender again, but it's still nice to win a series at the Cell.
Once again, a negative attendance "record" was set Tuesday night, breaking Monday night's record for the smallest crowd in the history of the Cubs/White Sox regular-season series. Just 30,282 attended the game, nearly 3,000 fewer than Monday night, and 10,000 short of a sellout. Those who did attend got a tightly-played game with good defense (by the Cubs, at least, though Geovany Soto made a throwing error) and timely hitting.
Travis Wood got himself in trouble in the second inning after he snagged Paul Konerko's sharp line drive right back at him for the first out. A pair of walks followed, and then Alexei Ramirez bounced a ball into the seats for a ground-rule double, scoring a run. Turns out the bounce into the seats saved the Cubs, because there's no doubt both of those runners would have scored if that hadn't happened. Instead, Dayan Viciedo had to hold at third, and after another walk, Wood got out of the inning.
After that, he settled down and gave up just two singles and a walk until he was lifted after six innings.
Meanwhile, the Cubs went to right work in the third. Geovany Soto reached on an error by Orlando Hudson, and after an infield dribbler by Tony Campana and a wild pitch put runners on second and third, David DeJesus singled them both in.
After that, Jake Peavy retired 16 straight Cubs before Campana singled again in the eighth. DeJesus led off the ninth with a triple, but was stranded there. Robin Ventura left Peavy in to finish the game, despite the fact that he took a comebacker by Starlin Castro off what appeared to be his pitching hand. You all know Peavy's injury history; he wound up throwing 125 pitches. I wouldn't have done that. It's the only complete game pitched against the Cubs this season, oddly enough.
And that's where the Cubs bullpen came into play. Shawn Camp, James Russell, Manuel Corpas and yes, even Carlos Marmol threw three no-hit innings, issuing just three walks. Marmol was a bit shaky -- but I was actually happy he walked A.J. Pierzynski with two out, because A.J. has a history of hitting home runs against the Cubs at the worst possible time. Marmol then got Hudson to hit an easy grounder to Steve Clevenger at first base to end it.
Two wins in a row at the Cell. Who'd have thought?
A couple of other notes: Castro made what might be the catch of the year on a blooper into short left field by Alejandro De Aza in the fifth inning. The ball popped out of his glove, and he immediately grabbed it with his right hand.
Also, I was kind of surprised that Dale Sveum took Bryan LaHair out of right field in the eighth inning in favor of Reed Johnson. Yes, I know, defense and everything and LaHair would not have caught up to Konerko's drive with two on and one out, while Reed made a nice running catch. But LaHair was due up third in the top of the ninth -- why not move him to first base and take Clevenger out? If LaHair had been up against Peavy in the ninth with DeJesus on third base, maybe the Cubs score another run.
Ah, well. They won, so probably the complaint department should be closed. The Cubs go for the sweep tonight. That sounds strange, doesn't it?