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Breaking Records, and Open Thread: Cubs vs. Reds, Sunday 9/24, 12:15 CT

With nothing else left to play for this season, the Cubs turned their attention to the record books in last night's 11-4 win over the Reds, which also, for all intents and purposes, ended the Reds' wild-card chances (six games out with eight games left).

  • Juan Pierre's 55th stolen base gives him the most for a Cub player in a season in one hundred years -- since Frank Chance stole 57 in 1906. His two hits leave him seven short of 200, and with his second at-bat today, he will break Billy Herman's 71-year-old club record of 666 at-bats (it'll be good to get THAT number out of the books!). If Pierre reaches 693 at-bats, still possible with seven games left, that would be tenth on the all-time list.
  • Carlos Zambrano homered for the sixth time this year, tying Fergie Jenkins' 35-year-old club record for HR by a pitcher, and with one start left, he has a chance to tie the National League record for pitchers, seven, held by Mike Hampton (2001) and Don Drysdale (1958 and 1965).
  • Aramis Ramirez' 36th HR tied his own club record for HR by a third baseman. He has 113 RBI, a personal high. The club record for RBI by a third baseman is 123, set by Ron Santo in 1969.
  • Bob Howry made his eightieth appearance, a career high for him. He will have to make four appearances in the seven remaining games to tie, and five to break the club record of 84, set in 1965 by Ted Abernathy, and tied by Dick Tidrow in 1980.
  • The Cubs avoided a 100-loss season by winning their 63rd game. I know that makes some of you unhappy, thinking that 100 is some "magic number" that will suddenly awaken Cubs management and let them know how terrible things are. Somehow, I think they already know this.
Z didn't throw great (four earned runs in seven innings), although he really made only one terrible pitch, the one Brandon Phillips hit for a three-run homer that briefly tied the game after the Cubs had fashioned a 3-0 lead, in part similarly to the way they did it on Friday night, having Juan Pierre on second (this time with a double), and the Reds mishandling a Ryan Theriot bunt. Z's ERA, now up to 3.43, may be too high for a Cy Young winner, but if he winds up 17-6 by winning his last start, and if he is the only 17-game winner in the NL and also leads the league in strikeouts, I suspect he'll get some votes. To me, it's between Z, Brandon Webb and Chris Carpenter. The only Cy Young winner ever from a last-place team is Roger Clemens, who won in 1997 with the Blue Jays, who finished fifth in the AL East that year.

And so, we slog on, one week to go. Actually, the most interesting thing happening now is the NL Central race, which appeared to be wrapped up weeks ago. If the Astros can win today, sweeping the Cardinals, they move to within 3.5 games of first place; Houston finishes with seven games on the road, first a makeup game at Philadelphia tomorrow, then at Pittsburgh and Atlanta. St. Louis has home series vs. the Padres, also fighting for a playoff berth, and the Brewers, who have pretty much knocked the Giants out of contention this weekend. It could yet be close.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Juan Mateo
J. Mateo
vs. Aaron Harang
A. Harang
1-3 W-L 14-11
4.38 ERA 3.91
30 SO 198
15 BB 56
4 HR 26
vs. Cin -- vs. Cubs
This game preview for today says:
The Cubs will counter with left-hander Sean Marshall (5-9, 5.64), who is 0-1 with a 9.72 ERA in his last four starts.
... but then it has Juan Mateo in the stat box, and the Cubs website also says Mateo. If it is Mateo -- who had to leave his start a week ago Friday after throwing three no-hit innings -- that would move Marshall back to Monday, and likely make the rotation for the rest of the season:

Tuesday: Wade Miller
Wednesday: Somebody hopefully NOT named Walrond
Friday: Rich Hill
Saturday: Z
Sunday: Mateo again

So, we shall see. The Cubs beat the living daylights out of Harang on Opening Day, so it would be fitting to make a bookend out of today's start, the last game of the season between the two clubs. The Cubs clinched the season series vs. the Reds yesterday; they are 10-7 for the season. Cubs Gameday

Discuss amongst yourselves.