Damn, he's good.
Greg Maddux now is 4-0 for the first time since 2000 -- a year in which he went 19-9 for the Braves, incidentally. And further, that year it took him six starts to do it.
Know how many times he's won his first four starts in a season?
Once. This year. He's amazing, and clearly the training regimen he put himself through last offseason is paying huge dividends.
The bullpen couldn't match Maddux' excellence today, and so the Cubs beat the Cardinals 7-3, after Roberto Novoa and Ryan Dempster were both touched up for Cardinal rallies, and that raises a point.
Yes, Dempster hadn't worked since Wednesday. But why put him in a game like this? The entire mindset of a closer falls to the wayside in a 7-1 game, and it showed, as Dempster gave up a single and two doubles and two runs, breaking his scoreless-inning streak at 31 1/3 (32 appearances dating back to last August).
And, he had to throw 23 pitches to do it. What if he's needed tomorrow night? Doesn't this make him less useful in a possible closing situation? I think I'd have left Roberto Novoa out there for another inning of work.
OK, OK, I complain too much after a win. It was nice to see Jacque Jones and Aramis Ramirez homer; both have been scuffling and both are going to have to start hitting if this offense is going to accomplish anything while Derrek Lee is out. Juan Pierre helped by getting two hits today and scoring three times, and that's something that's also going to have to happen more often to jumpstart this offense.
Todd Walker, meanwhile, had two more hits and three RBI, and with Morgan Ensberg going 1-for-4 at Houston today, Walker's .408 average should lead the National League after today's action. Maddux' 0.99 ERA already leads the league, and he has now thrown 27.1 innings in his four starts, nearly seven per start.
This is something the rest of the Cub staff is going to have to start doing, lest the bullpen arms start to fall off in April. Today, Jerome Williams was sent to Iowa and Angel Guzman recalled. That article says Guzman was available for long relief if needed, but since he wasn't, I suspect he'll be slotted into Williams' rotation spot, which will come up on Wednesday vs. the Marlins.
Guzman, as most of you know, was once talked about in the same breath as Mark Prior, Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano, to follow in their footsteps.
Unfortunately, he followed Wood and Prior's steps right onto the DL for most of the last three years. At age 24, it's not too late for him to become the pitcher we all hoped he would be two or three years ago.
The salvaging of this game brings the club home with a winning trip of 5-4; sure, it probably should have been 6-3, but 5-4 (and 6-5 on the road all told so far this year) isn't bad.
Playing the Marlins and Brewers at home, there is no reason the Cubs shouldn't go at least 4-2 in this upcoming homestand.