The Cubs beat the Rockies 8-7 this afternoon, avoiding their first sweep in Denver since 1997 (I was in Denver for two of those four games; that was a 94-loss year for the Cubs and a decent Rockies team that won 83 games).
- The Cubs came from behind in the eighth inning to win. That is only the sixth time all year they have done so (come from behind to win that late): April 9 vs. the Cardinals, trailing 4-3; April 19 vs. the Dodgers, trailing 4-2; April 24 vs. the Marlins, trailing 3-0; May 21 vs. the White Sox, trailing 4-2; June 28 vs. the Brewers, trailing 3-1, and today. More ominously, there are only twelve other games that the Cubs have won this year by coming from behind at any time during the game; basically, if they get behind, they stay behind.
- How can you not love a player whose name spells "The Riot" and is pronounced "Terry-O"? Ryan had a pinch-hit, bases-clearing double that brought the Cubs from their 7-5 deficit to the 8-7 eventual winning margin (though, Ryan Dempster had to make it interesting, allowing a single and a stolen base in the 9th). Most importantly, Theriot has produced on this road trip in both a starting role (last Thursday in Milwaukee, three hits), and today off the bench. To me, this is a hallmark of a valuable reserve -- I'd like to see him tried at other positions than 2B.
- Carlos Marmol has a great arm. But until he learns to throw strikes on a consistent basis, I think he's got to be sent back to Iowa or West Tenn, because normally, if you walk eight batters in five innings, your team isn't going to win. Roberto Novoa walked two in two innings, for a team total of ten (!), but managed to be in the right place at the right time to qualify for the win.
- WGN's production values, which I've written about before, continue to decline. This time, it was a graphic accompanying a during-the-inning ad for an upcoming Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers concert at Northerly Island. Though Len read the correct concert dates -- September 14 & 15 -- the graphic, both yesterday and today, read "August 14 & 15". Doesn't ANYONE look at this stuff before they put it on the air?
- Stat corner: Aramis Ramirez hit his 28th HR of the season, and drove in his 81st and 82nd runs of the year. No one else on the club has more than 56 RBI; Juan Pierre got a gift stolen base when Yorvit Torrealba appeared to clutch as if he were going to throw when a pitch got by him. It should have been called a wild pitch. The top-ten list of Cub base stealers is all sixty and over, but only one of those seasons -- Frank Chance's 67 in 1903 -- was in the "modern" era, post-1900. Only two Cubs have stolen 50 bases in a season since World War II -- Ryne Sandberg in 1985, and Eric Young in 2000, both with 54.
- Michael Barrett was 2-for-3 with a walk. He now has 358 plate appearances; to qualify for the batting title at this time would require 363 PA (3.1 times the Cubs' game total of 117). If he plays every day this week and gets four PA per game, he'll show up on the leaderboard by this weekend -- the .330 average currently would rank fourth, although Chipper Jones, presently third, might fall off the list soon. Jones returned from the DL today. Only two catchers have EVER won batting titles -- Ernie Lombardi, with the Reds in 1938 and Braves in 1942, and Bubbles Hargrave, with the 1926 Reds. Yes, there really was a player nicknamed "Bubbles". Think that's weird? Maybe you'd rather have been his brother "Pinky". With Joe Mauer apparently on target to win the AL batting title this year (currently hitting .361 to Derek Jeter's .341), that would be a remarkable occurrence, to have catchers win in both leagues in the same season.
- Go figure: the Pirates swept the Cardinals this weekend.