If only we knew it were this simple all the time.
All the Cubs have to do to keep winning is ask their opponents to dress in Pirates uniforms.
OK, I know it doesn't work that way, but the Cubs have dominated the Pirates -- 11-3 so far, and that makes it a shame that there are only two games left, the final two at Wrigley Field this season on September 27 and 28 -- all season, and today was no different, a sweet little 2-0 shutout at PNC Park that completed the first Cub series sweep since their July 8-10 sweep of the Marlins in Miami.
Go figure on that one, too: the Marlins are 41-31 at home.
After yesterday's festivities, it was a lazy afternoon; in fact, I fell asleep for about 15 minutes watching the game. Not because the game was boring or anything -- far from it, Jerome Williams, who was absolutely putrid his last time out, was stellar today, allowing only four harmless singles and two walks, before running out of gas in the 8th and letting Will Ohman and Ryan Dempster (save #22) finish up.
Nomar Garciaparra's second-inning homer was all the Cubs needed today, and he's hitting just the way he was hitting in spring training, which gave us such hope he'd come back from his 2004 injury -- that, of course, was dashed only three weeks later.
I think Nomar has a lot of baseball -- GOOD baseball -- left in him, and I'd make re-signing him a priority, with two caveats:
- the contract must be heavily incentive-based;
- the possibility of moving him to left field ought to be discussed with him.
And yes, a sweep is exciting, and the Cubs winning is great, no matter what others may write about my expressed desire to see a no-hitter; the only way I'd want to see one against the Cubs is if the game is totally out of hand. Yes, it's somewhat of a point of pride to know that it's been forty years this coming Friday since the last time the Cubs were no-hit; but in a lost season, baseball history means something too.
That doesn't mean I sit there rooting for the Cubs to be no-hit each day; I'd much rather see Mark Prior or Carlos Zambrano throw a no-hitter, and perhaps sometime this month one of them will.
And so the Cubs are 3-0 beginning what may be quite a nice September in an otherwise disastrous season. The Cubs are 35-24 this year against the six remaining opponents (St. Louis, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Houston and Pittsburgh), and it may be apropos of nothing, but Dusty Baker-managed teams have had good Septembers every single year since Baker's first division title with the 1997 Giants.
That record, for the eight seasons from 1997 through 2004 (including a handful of October games as well), is 136-84, a .618 percentage. Playing to that percentage the rest of the year would give the Cubs 16 wins in the remaining 26 games, and slip them barely over .500 at 82-80.
So there is something to shoot for -- pride, if nothing else. The Cubs this season haven't had played with a lot of that, but at least they can leave us with a positive impression by playing that way over the next twenty-six games.
On to St. Louis, where the Cubs are 3-2 so far this season, and where Albert Pujols is still nursing the same injury -- plantar fasciitis -- that bothered him at the end of the 2004 season.