Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs catcher Anthony Recker reacts after hitting a solo homerun against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
Yes, yes, I know. You've all been watching the Bears demolish the Colts (although on the first two series of that game, they looked like just about the worst team in NFL history, and yes, I watched it until the Cubs game started).
What you missed was the first road series sweep by the Cubs since August 2011, when they also swept the Pirates at PNC Park (that one was a four-game sweep), as they used three home runs to defeat the Pirates 4-2. No, I can't figure it out either; the Cubs hadn't even won a road series since the All-Star break, and the Pirates are supposed to be contending for a wild card, but it appeared the teams switched roles this weekend.
Anthony Recker, getting his first start as a Cubs catcher, hit his first major-league home run. You can assume that he and Steve Clevenger are auditioning for the backup spot behind Welington Castillo for 2013. Josh Vitters hit his second home run, breaking an 0-for-27 drought; again, Vitters should be getting more playing time, because this has been his pattern throughout his career. He struggles at first after being promoted, then begins to hit.
Trivia: Recker is the first Cubs catcher to wear No. 20 since Wayne Nordhagen, who played 21 games for the North Siders in 1983.
And Alfonso Soriano homered for the second straight game, breaking a 2-2 tie that was forced when James Russell balked in the tying run. Soriano is 9-for-37 this month (.243), but four of the nine hits are home runs, giving him a slugging percentage of .622 and an OPS of .865 for the month.
Chris Rusin threw well for five innings, similar to his first career start last month in Milwaukee. He certainly deserves more outings; he would appear to be a Jamie Moyer type of lefthander. Not that he could last as long as Moyer did, but someone like that is a perfectly serviceable fourth or fifth starter in a major-league rotation.
Another reason individual pitcher won-lost records are meaningless: Russell was credited with the "win" after the balk; the run wasn't even charged to him as Manuel Corpas put the runner on base. Russell "improved" to a 7-1 W-L mark, but really, what does that mean? Maybe it's time to change the way we credit wins and losses to reflect the changing ways pitchers are used. I'm not exactly sure how that could be done; perhaps that's an essay for another day.
And, the win wasn't without its nervous moments because Carlos Marmol had one of those let's-walk-everyone-just-to-see-what-happens saves, but eventually he closed it out for his 18th save.
Now it's on to Houston, where the Cubs will face the Astros... who also just won a road series, just their second of the season, and at Cincinnati, too. The Astros came into the series 40½ games behind the Reds. Baseball: if anyone tells you they have this game figured out, laugh in their face.