Where has this Edwin Jackson been?
Saturday was Jackson's 40th start as a Cub, and this one was the best of the 40, and it's not close. He did have a scoreless seven-inning outing against the Cardinals last July, but struck out just five that day.
In Saturday's game, Jackson struck out 11, walked just one, allowed only four ground-ball singles and there wasn't a single putout made by an outfielder during his seven innings (Starlin Castro caught one popup in short center field, and in fact, no Cubs outfielder made a putout in the game).
The Cubs completed their 3-0 shutout of the Brewers with 1-2-3 innings from Neil Ramirez and Hector Rondon (fourth save), and that's the way things are supposed to work -- seven strong innings from your starter, and impeccable setup and closing relief. It's maddening because Jackson clearly has outstanding ability and talent. He threw 77 strikes in 115 pitches and though his pace was still fairly slow, his ability to get batters to hit the ball on the ground and sring and miss (all but two of the K's were swinging) had him utterly dominating Brewers hitters.
More of this, please. It's the first time since Jackson's very first Cub start in April 2013 that he finishes the game with an ERA under 4 (3.60 that day, 3.98 after Saturday).
Meanwhile, if you left this game after the first inning, you saw all the scoring. The Cubs decided to bunt on Matt Garza, and though we weren't entertained by one of his flings into the 10th row of the seats, Emilio Bonifacio bunted his way on base to lead off the first inning. Then Chris Coghlan sacrificed him to second. Did the bunts rattle Garza? Anthony Rizzo grounded out for the second out, but Starlin Castro ripped a double off the wall to score Bonifacio, and after a walk to Nate Schierholtz, Welington Castillo drove in a pair with a double down the line in left. Of Castillo's 17 RBI this year, 14 have come with two out.
And that was it, really. The Brewers had just three baserunners after the first inning, two singles and a walk, and the Cubs matched that baserunner total, with a single, a walk and Darwin Barney reaching on an error. After Barney got on base to lead off the second, Garza retired the next 12 Cubs in order until Rizzo led off the sixth with a single.
So, the complaint department is definitely closed after this one. Nicely done, Cubs. More of this would be good. It was the Cubs' third shutout of 2014, their second over the Brewers.
Today was apparently wedding party day at Wrigley. There were at least four bachelorette or bachelor parties in the bleachers, just in our section and the one adjacent. I doubt that any of those people had any idea what the score of the game was, and one bachelor party spent an inning yelling at the bachelorettes across the aisle. Good-natured yelling, but it still seemed pretty alcohol-fueled. There was also a wedding reception in the batter's eye suite and an actual wedding that took place on one of the rooftops during the game. (No word on whether any of their views of the game were blocked.)
I got a photo of a sign one of the groups held up. Pretty funny, actually.
So the Cubs, yet again, have a chance to win a series Sunday afternoon. Travis Wood will face Marco Estrada. It was warmer Saturday than Friday, though that was a low bar to hurdle. We're told it might touch 70 degrees Sunday with sunshine. That'd be nice. So would another win.