... can you feel it?
The Cubs won a game today in which their starting pitcher struggled mightily; in which they made several really, really bad baserunning mistakes; in which they drew six walks but left eleven men on base; and in which they generally just didn't play very well.
Today's 5-3 win over the Rockies, the Cubs' third in a row and sixth in their last eight, brought them nudging closer to the wild-card race. It's always nice when you see a standing where you've got in the same "decade" of wins as the teams you're chasing, and with the sixtieth win tonight, the Cubs come within five of the currently-leading Phillies.
But the Phillies are losing big tonight. And the Nationals have lost tonight -- and the Cubs need the Mets to lose a game in that series too. And at this moment, Houston is losing too.
OK, so it's only one day.
Tonight, we had as guests at our house, a family whose daughter has been in school with Mark, and this year will be attending school with Rachel. She's a big Cubs fan, and I gave her and her mom a BCB card, so they should be checking out this site soon -- hey, welcome, you guys!
They spent this afternoon guess where? Down at the Cell, waiting for the Yankees' bus to arrive for their game tonight vs. the White Sox. They got paydirt -- an autograph from A-Rod!
While that was going on, the Cubs were trying every which way to give the game to the Rockies. Corey Patterson, after reaching third base on an error, made about the worst slide I've ever seen from a major league player and was tagged out. Todd Walker, a couple of innings later, got picked off first -- although replays seemed to indicate he beat the throw back. Walker made up for it later by smashing a long home run, and Jeromy Burnitz, who got his big free-agent deal primarily by putting up big numbers at Coors, went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI.
This game slogged along as if it had started yesterday (three hours and sixteen minutes), and part of the reason was Mark Prior, who threw an alarmingly large 120 pitches in six innings. Even so, the way he approached the game and how to pitch it, showed me that he's one of the only pitchers I've seen who has actually mastered the art of pitching in Coors Field. The ball doesn't break there the way it does at sea level, or the near-sea-level of Wrigley Field, but Prior seemed to have his curveball breaking very, very nicely -- to the tune of ten strikeouts over those six innings.
Roberto Novoa didn't make those adjustments, and as a result he was touched for a run in his one inning of work, although he also struck out two, as did Kerry Wood -- who was nearly lights-out yet again, even when giving us heart flutters when the last out of his eighth inning was a fly ball caught by Patterson at just about the deepest place you can find in Coors Field.
Ryan Dempster decided to spare us any more heart palpitations by retiring the side 1-2-3 in the last of the ninth... did I mention that the Rockies are a really, really bad team?
That's one reason I wouldn't put too much stock in this win. These are the games that any contending team, or a team that wants to get to that level, simply must win. And though it wasn't pretty, a win is, as the cliche goes, a win, and with most of the teams the Cubs are chasing also losing tonight, that inches our team closer to the top, and despite the "giving up" attitude that seems to pervade elsewhere, there aren't just a dozen games left in the season, there are forty.
Jerry Hairston was activated from the DL today, and to no one's surprise, Matt Murton was sent back to Iowa. This is a good thing for Murton, who'll play every day for the next couple of weeks and then return when rosters expand. What's most interesting is the fact that Hairston was sent into LF for "defense" in the 9th inning -- that position that Dusty Baker earlier this year said was "too hard" for him to play. Guess it must have gotten easier while Hairston was hurt.
Comcast Sports Net's cameras caught Cub fans sitting everywhere in Coors Field, and applauding loudly as Wood struck out two and getting that last out on the catch by Patterson; in watching attendance figures, the Rockies typically have been drawing in the low 20,000's for recent home games, but today had 30,175 -- meaning perhaps 1/3 of the crowd was Cub fans today.
Good. I haven't given up hope yet. It may be only a very small chance -- Baseball Prospectus' Postseason Odds gives the Cubs a 2.9% statistical chance of making the playoffs as of this morning -- but as long as there are games left on the schedule that the Cubs can win and there is a mathematical chance, I'm going to keep hope alive.
You do the same. Keep the faith. Good things are happening.