Our long national nightmare is over. -- Gerald R. Ford, on taking the Presidential oath of office, August 9, 1974.
OK, so last night's 8-1 Cub win over the Giants, snapping the 8-game losing streak, didn't quite have the impact of a Presidential resignation.
But it sure felt good, didn't it?
I'm going to keep this post fairly short, as there's a relatively quick turnaround to today's afternoon game. That could be a real positive thing, too, if the Cubs can win this afternoon -- that'd be two wins in less than 24 hours, and a chance to have that long plane ride back from California feeling good.
Eight runs. That is as many runs as the Cubs had scored in their previous four games. In fact, it's as many runs as they'd scored in their previous SIX games, because the two before the four mentioned were both shutouts.
Carlos Zambrano threw a very, very nice game for the second straight outing, and finally -- 33 games and eight starts into the season -- got his first win. I fell asleep again -- even though I didn't have to get up for work today, I have a hard time staying up late -- but did manage to see the called third strike he slipped past Barry Bonds in the fifth inning. (I also woke up right when the last out was being registered, so I could go to sleep knowing they'd won, and turn the TV off. This is NOT the first time this has happened.)
Not having the time or inclination to look this up, anyone know how many called third strikes Bonds has seen in the last few years? It can't be many -- since 2003 he's only struck out 115 times total, or about what Jacque Jones does every year.
Speaking of Jones -- hmmm. He homered and doubled and drove in four runs and if you look at his stat line this morning -- 25-for-93, four doubles, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 5 BB, 21 strikeouts -- those numbers are almost precisely Jones' career norms.
I'm not saying he's a good player -- he's not -- nor am I saying the Cubs should have spent $16 million on him -- they shouldn't; only saying that it appears they got exactly what they should have expected.
If Dusty Baker would just put a righthanded hitter out there during the times the Cubs face lefties, he'd become even more useful. Against righthanders (and the Cubs will be facing them throughout the San Diego and Washington series coming up, and also today with Jamey Wright), Jones is now hitting .320/.358/.613 -- that's All-Star level production. He is 1-for-18 vs. lefties with five strikeouts.
If WE know this, why is it that Dusty Baker doesn't know this?
If you didn't see the game, you missed hearing Juan Pierre being roundly booed on his first trip to the plate. Good. I hope the Cubs prevent Bonds from hitting ANY home runs during this series.
I guess the reason that Ryan Dempster was chosen to throw the 9th inning of an 8-1 blowout is because he had pitched only once in the previous nine days (Monday in San Diego). He threw only nine pitches, which means he should be fine if needed for a save situation today.
You feel pretty good this morning, right? Losing streaks always end. Eight-game streaks are no fun for anyone -- players, coaches, managers, or we the fans. It has been pointed out to me many times that teams that lose this many games in a row rarely, if ever, come back to make the playoffs.
I have responded, both privately and here, that there have been teams (notably, last year's Astros) that, while they never lost 8 in a row, did have tremendous losing for an extended period of time. Houston last year, for example, in their 15-30 start, had a seven-game losing streak and three separate six-game streaks.
Losing eight is just one more game. Statistically, yes, maybe teams that lose eight in a row don't make the playoffs.
But I shall repeat something here that my friend Dave, who has forgotten more baseball than I'll ever know, has said to me: "Just when you think you know everything about baseball, something happens that reminds you that you don't."
Words to live by. There are still 129 games remaining in this season. Keep the faith. There'll be an open game post sometime around lunchtime today.