There must be quite a few servings of crow being eaten this morning by various Cubs fans.
They taste better with a little teriyaki sauce, just so you all know.
Three of the most-maligned Cubs -- Jason Marquis, Jacque Jones and Matt Murton -- all stepped up bigtime last night and led the ballclub to a 6-2 win over the Rockies. Yes, that's not a misprint -- Marquis, Jones and Murton were the stars. Marquis threw into the 7th inning, gave up only one run (unearned), walked nobody, struck out five, and just to prove he can still hit, smacked a booming double to dead center field that missed being a home run by about ten feet.
He later scored that inning on one of Jones' three hits. Jones also doubled and hit his first home run in more than two months (since June 1 vs. the Braves, the day of the Zambrano/Barrett brouhaha and two days before the current 38-24 streak began). That ties him with Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot with three, and raises his average to .266. With both Jones and Murton hot, there's no reason to not send them out there every day, at least until Alfonso Soriano returns.
And Murton also had three hits, and homered for the second day in a row, a useful insurance run going into a 9th inning that I just couldn't stay awake for -- and it really does seem as if the humidor they store baseballs in at Coors Field has indeed had some dampening effect on scoring there. Although Coors still ranks second in overall park factor at 1.203, and 1.238 for HR, this is far lower than it was in 2001 (1.458 and 1.457) or 2002 (1.440 and 1.600). Of course, scoring seems to have been tamped down quite a bit all across the major leagues this season. Wonder why that is? (he said, with major winking going on.)
Anyway, Dempster came in with a four-run lead -- often, that's the kiss of death for him, coming in in an non-save situation -- but he handled it with dispatch, helped out by a couple of slick defensive plays by Derrek Lee. Even though Lee is struggling at the plate, he's still contributing. He could probably use a day off, but with Aramis Ramirez out, and Daryle Ward still not activated from the DL, there's really nobody on the team who can play first base (and don't say Cliff Floyd, because the last time Uncle Cliffie played first base was ten years ago, with the Marlins). So Derrek will likely have to wait till Monday, when the whole team gets a day off after twenty games in a row, to rest.
Jason Kendall also had three hits last night, including a legged-out infield hit when he placed a ball just perfectly in between the pitcher's mound and second base. He's now hitting .317/.414/.417 as a Cub, with four doubles, a triple and 8 RBI in 60 at-bats. I still think Lou should try that .414 OBA in the 2-spot in the batting order, but last night the makeshift lineup worked again -- why not send it out there again tonight against Josh Fogg?
Unfortunately, the Brewers decided to come from behind last night and beat the Astros in 11 innings 5-4, so they maintain their half-game lead. The Padres, Dodgers and Phillies also won, so the Cubs remain two games behind in the wild-card race.
Notes: I noticed in the comments last night that someone asked if Rockies pitcher Ryan Speier was any relation to former Cubs coach Chris Speier. He's not -- former Rockies pitcher Justin Speier, who's now with the Angels, is Chris' son. Ryan Speier, no relation to Chris or Justin, came up with the Rockies two years ago, started this year with Colorado, was sent down in April and just recalled this past week -- and I can see why, with that pitching motion that kind of shoves the ball to the plate, an arm injury waiting to happen. He threw a scoreless inning, but not until after allowing two hits and uncorking a wild pitch.
And the SCOTT PODSEDNIK'S BEEN CLAIMED ON WAIVERS!!!!11!!!! story has hit the national wires, after being reported on local sports talk radio, which I said in last night's game thread is doing a real disservice by "breaking" these non-stories. The real story about this claim is buried in that link:
"I don't think any club would place just one player that they're looking to trade on waivers because then it would be obvious to other clubs what your intention is or how you view a specific player," Hahn said. "The fact that a specific player was or was not placed on waivers or was claimed by a club is not indicative of the likelihood of a deal."
Which is as it should be, as Hahn said. Until an actual waiver deal is made, there are a ton of players both waived and claimed during early August. This happens every year -- it's just this year, for some reason, that these things are getting reported as if they're already set in stone. Which they aren't. And Jim Hendry agrees:
Teammates privately rallied around trainer Mark O'Neal, whom they perceived as being thrown under the bus by Ohman, one teammate referring to the pitcher as "our ex-lefty."
"I certainly have a pretty solid reputation of not pitching people when we knew we had an injury and certainly would not attempt to send out an injured player."
Now onward. The Cubs have played well in this series, and people have stepped up to replace injured stars. Keep it up.