Well, that was about the most whacked-out game I've seen in quite some time. Consider:
- Carlos Zambrano started the game by throwing a wild pitch on strike three, walked four, allowed eight hits, made a throwing error, smashed a couple of Gatorade coolers, and didn't last long enough to win.
- Alfonso Soriano dropped a fly ball -- this time after dark -- just as he did in the sunshine May 25 in this same ballpark. What are they putting on that LF grass, anyway? (Later, when he caught a routine fly ball, he exhibited what can only be called, pardon the mild profanity, a shit-eating grin.) Soriano, for his part, did have three hits and a stolen base for positive contributions last night.
- Kerry Wood had a brain fart and failed to cover first base on a grounder to Derrek Lee, allowing Nyjer Morgan to reach base. (Morgan had earlier been caught stealing when his foot came off second and he was tagged out by Ryan Theriot after reaching on a bunt single off Sean Marshall in the 7th.)
- Jeff Samardzija and Neal Cotts weren't very good, allowing the Pirates to re-take the lead after the Cubs had overcome a 3-0 first-inning deficit.
And none of that mattered in the end, as the Cubs annihilated the Bucs 14-9 on the strength of Geovany Soto's best game of his career -- Soto smacked his 20th HR, breaking Randy Hundley's team record for HR by a rookie catcher, and also hit two bases-clearing doubles for a career-high, and Cub season high, seven RBI. The Cubs now have four players with at least 77 RBI (D-Lee drove in his 77th last night) and have a real shot at having four with over 90.
That makes the Cubs' record vs. Pittsburgh this year 13-4, and in six of the 13 wins, they have scored ten or more runs. (Can we arrange to play these guys a few more times in September?) The 82nd win of the year clinched a winning season for the Cubs, the earliest calendar date on which they have done that since 1929, when in a 154-game schedule they won their 78th game on August 23 (in 1969 they won #82 on August 30, the earliest they did so in the 162-game era before last night). I wrote yesterday that a win last night would give the Cubs ten straight series wins -- that isn't correct; the win gives them nine consecutive series wins, but the rest of what I posted is right. No Cub team has done this since 1907.
They're 21-6 in those nine series. They're 24-8 since Alfonso Soriano came off the DL on July 23. Since losing to the Cardinals on August 9 they're 12-3 (and two of the three losses were by 2-1 scores).
It's all good, though I worry a little bit about Z, who, as last August, has been shaky this month. Even Z himself is aware of this:
"I have to eliminate August. Once I get past August, everything will be back to normal," Zambrano said. "I was thinking about that after the game. Last August wasn't that good, but I was able to come back, and September and October were good for me. So it's nothing to worry about."
Zambrano said he's just having problems with his delivery. He was fighting himself on the mound, emotionally if not physically.
Maybe he's a little too aware. Z will have one more start in August, on Sunday the 31st. Let's hope he can turn the calendar page one day early.
In the meantime, let's sweep this series -- weather permitting. I'll have the pregame thread up at 10:30 CDT.