I really did want to have a large number of witty, incisive, and pithy comments about last night's well-played 6-3 Cubs win over the Brewers, but I have to admit I didn't see big chunks of it. Why? Because I have a really nice La-Z-Boy type chair and I sat in it to watch the game and fell asleep.
Yes, at 7:30 in the evening. Most of you know I get up in the middle of the night to go to work, and thus by Tuesday night (which is my "Thursday night" for you Monday-through-Friday'ers), I'm pretty tired.
I woke up in time to ... well, in time to go to bed, and I figured I'd see the end of the game, even though it was running long -- thanks to ten total walks -- but I fell asleep again, waking up only in time to see Ryan Dempster strike out Prince Fielder for the last out and his 22nd save, which, bad as the Cubs have been, is tied for eighth in the National League. As the Cubs have gotten better, they've gotten Dempster more consistent work, more save opportunities, and he has responded with better pitching.
From June 14 through July 1, Dempster pitched in seven games (of 17 team games) -- one save, two blown saves, and four games in which he had no save opportunity. He threw 6.1 innings during that time, allowed 10 hits, 12 runs (8 earned), walked 5, struck out 7, and allowed 2 HR (one of those, the 3-run HR by A. J. Pierzynski that resulted in a blown save on July 1), 11.37 ERA.
Starting on July 5, his next appearance after that stretch, he's made 18 appearances (in 29 team games), recorded 10 saves with no blown saves; 17.2 IP, 15 H, 4 R (all earned), 7 BB, 15 K, 1 HR, 2.04 ERA.
More consistent work for closers, especially in save situations, always makes them pitch better.
The rest of the game was pretty much one-shot; the Cubs scored "early and often", with a five-run first inning which featured two-out, two-run homers by both Jacque Jones and John Mabry. Jones had one of his best games of the year, making two outstanding catches in right field, including one with the bases loaded in the sixth inning off Corey Hart -- although I did think he made a little "dramatic leap" which didn't really have to be made. This was after Carlos Marmol, who threw five solid innings, lost his command in the sixth and walked the bases loaded. Michael Wuertz came in and proceeded to walk in a run, but Jones' catch (and Will Ohman, who allowed Hart to hit the ball that far, pumped his fist in the air Zambrano-like as he walked off the field) ended the Brewers' last real threat.
The Cubs have won three in a row, nine of 12, but don't get excited, because even if by some miracle they won their next ten in a row, they'd still be six games under .500. It is worth noting, however, that since July 7, the day they started a three-game streak against the Brewers in Milwaukee, the NL Central team records are as follows: