It was all Dioner Navarro Wednesday at Wrigley Field in the Cubs' 9-3 win over the White Sox, the team's third straight win, so let's count the ways in which Navarro's career day was one of the most unusual feats in team history:
- It was the Cubs' first three-homer game since Aramis Ramirez smacked three against the Astros July 20, 2010 at Wrigley Field. (The Cubs won 14-7, an offensive outburst on the day Lou Piniella announced he would retire at the end of the season.)
- It was the first three-homer game by a Cubs catcher since George Mitterwald did it (and drove in eight runs) in an 18-9 win over the Pirates April 17, 1974 at Wrigley Field.
- It was the first time a Cub had switch-hit home runs in a game since Mark Bellhorn did it in Milwaukee in a 13-10 win over the Brewers, August 29, 2002.
- It was the sixth time in Cubs history that a player had switch-hit homers in a game (Bellhorn twice, Ellis Burton twice, Augie Galan once), but the first time a Cubs player had hit three in a game and switch-hit homers.
- It was the 16th time in major-league history that a player had accomplished the above feat -- both switch-hitting home runs, and hitting three, in the same game. Among the previous 14 -- Cubs manager Dale Sveum, for the Brewers against the Angels July 17, 1987.
Well! That's certainly enough for anyone's career day, and Navarro has certainly been one of the best, if not the best, backup catchers in baseball this season. His career high for homers in a season is nine, in 2007 with Tampa Bay; today's game gives him six in just 58 at-bats. Navarro also walked and scored, making it his first career four-run game.
That wasn't all the good stuff in Wednesday afternoon's win. On a day when scattered thunderstorms were expected, the clouds departed about an hour before game time and it turned into a gorgeous, mostly-sunny afternoon with a pleasant breeze blowing off the lake, holding temperatures at Wrigley to a comfortable level in the low 70s. The breezes didn't stop Navarro, whose first homer was a line drive into the first couple of rows; his second, a ball into our section in left field just inside the foul pole, and third, onto Sheffield over the party patio.
Scott Feldman threw a lot of pitches in his six innings, largely due to a couple of White Sox hitters who had long at-bats fouling off pitches, but he managed to put in six solid innings, giving up a pair of runs, striking out seven, and issuing no walks for his fifth win. If he keeps this up, he could find himself on the National League All-Star team (and then, likely, in another uniform not long after that game). Carlos Villanueva, Carlos Marmol and new acquisition Alex Burnett finished up with minimal damage; the only run off those three was after a leadoff double by Alexei Ramirez. He advanced to third on a passed ball -- the only thing Navarro did wrong Tuesday -- and scored on a sacrifice fly, an unearned run. Burnett looked solid in his scoreless ninth, allowing just a ground ball single. He could be a useful middle reliever.
31,279 was the announced tickets-sold total, one of the smaller crowds in the history of this series; I estimated about 23,000 in the house. (I'll have the usual wrap of attendance at the end of this homestand, but I tweeted that estimate after the third inning, and will do that for all home games the rest of the year.)
A tip o' the cap to Scott Hairston, who went 2-for-4. Keep that up and I might change my mind about you, Scott.
You know, there are times when this team looks really, really good. They've done that for the last three days, at least, and if they keep this up... well, hope for the future might come faster than we think. After Wednesday's six-run margin of victory, the Cubs' run differential now stands at +1. (Comparison points: coming into Wednesday, the Nationals are -18, but two games over .500; the Giants are four games over at -2.)