Because that's what's important, right?
(click on image to open more detailed summary of the game; data copyright fangraphs.com)
Okay, okay, I'm kidding. Sort of. Some of us got into yet another stats vs. non-stats debate in this diary yesterday, and I'm making this recap in this form mainly to make this point:
Statistics are important. Statistical analysis is important, and the sabermetric stats invented by Bill James and refined and advanced by James and others have added a great deal to our understanding of what goes into making good ballplayers and winning teams.
However, in and of themselves -- viewed in a vacuum -- they are just numbers. They don't tell us about a ballplayer who might steal a sign. Or see a pitcher who's tipping his pitches. Or someone who, at the moment you least expect it, makes a great diving catch. Or, as David Eckstein did to Ronny Cedeno on April 20 at Wrigley Field, tagged him out for oversliding second base on ball four -- sometimes ballplayers just have baseball smarts. Those can't be measured; but they exist.
To give a short recap of what I saw non-statistically last night, the Cubs assured themselves of a series win with another solid performance. Even missing Mark DeRosa (who will apparently be out till FridayHill and Jason Kendall will now split the time, perhaps allowing one or the other to get hot) had either a hit, a run scored, or a RBI, including Ted Lilly, who has suddenly become a hitter (5-for-19 in his last six starts with 3 RBI). The team banged out 14 hits and scored seven runs -- again, without a home run. They have moved up to sixth in the NL in runs scored, and at 53-46 are only three games short of their Pythagorean expectation.
Lilly, for his part, threw yet another outstanding game, although he issued an uncharacteristic three walks. As noted in last night's game thread, he has now, with his 11th win, won the fourth-most games in a season of any Cub lefthander in the last 35 years (Jamie Moyer, 12 in 1987; Steve Trout, 13 in 1984, and Greg Hibbard, 15 in 1993 are the only ones who have won more, and Lilly has a chance to surpass all of those).
And, with the Brewers, the Braves, and the Padres all losing yesterday, the Cubs closed the gap on both the division and wild-card leads. They now trail Milwaukee by only two games (one in the loss column), and are tied with Arizona, one-half game behind San Diego (tied in the loss column) in the wild-card race.
While Trader Jim keeps considering whether or not to make a deal -- perhaps for Jermaine Dye, who's on the block -- this non-traditional lineup (with kids at the doubleplay spots, and catchers who aren't hitting) keeps winning. Kerry Wood may return to the bullpen -- but not right away:
"We'll regroup after that and get a plan together," Hendry said. "If he goes through that, he might not be too far away. I can't see it happening right after Peoria."
Enjoy. And enjoy the Cubs' play. Things are good.