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With Z, There's Always Something: Zambrano Says He'll Retire After His Contract Is Up. Oh, Yes: Cubs Win 2-1

Even when he's not trying to be controversial, Carlos Zambrano creates controversy. As first posted in this FanPost from earlier this morning, Z said that he would retire after his current contract expires. This was in response to a question asking whether he thought he could win 300 games, since last night's 2-1 Cubs win over the Reds was the 100th of Z's, um, eventful career with the Cubs.

The correct answer is, "Who knows?" Carlos Zambrano wears his heart on his sleeve, as we have all seen many times. That was likely an emotional response, blurted out without really thinking about it. After the 2013 season -- when his deal will expire, presuming the vesting option for that season vests (and it probably will) -- he will be 32 years old. Competitive as we all know he is, I can't see him walking away from baseball. But this is more than four years away and, in the meantime, there are games and hopefully championships to be won. And in terms of records -- well, let's presume Z can win at least ten more games this year. That'd put him at 110 career wins; the team record is 201, held by Charlie Root. Let's say Z wins 18 games -- admittedly, a stretch -- each of the next four seasons. That'd put him at 182 and within reach of the club mark. You don't think the intensely competitive Z wouldn't want to come back to challenge that, and make him definitively the best pitcher in Cubs history? I say he would.

Unfortunately, the statement by Z -- which headlined the recap linked above -- took the focus away from not only his milestone victory, but a nicely played game all-around by the Cubs last night. Z threw well in only his third start since May 3 (two after returning from the DL, and last night after a six-game suspension and an unscheduled day off due to rain), allowing only two hits. He was a bit wild with five walks, but good defense and a double play held the Reds scoreless until Z was pulled with two out in the seventh and 109 pitches. Meanwhile, the Cubs took advantage of Micah Owings' wildness in the first to score a run on a bases-loaded walk, and then Z gave them the eventual margin of victory with his second homer of the season -- hit righthanded, to the opposite field. That was a relative rarity; first of all, Z hit righthanded vs. the RHP Owings, and the HR, the 18th of his career, was the seventh hit righthanded. Maybe Z will want to stick around to break the pitchers' career record for home runs, which is 37, which is held by Wes Ferrell. Ferrell's listed with 38 homers, but one of them was hit as a pinch-hitter; it was a three-run walkoff, no less, on July 21, 1935.

I'm a little concerned still about Carlos Marmol, who gave up the Reds' only run while being wild (only 12 strikes in 23 pitches and two walks). His slider looked OK, but the fastball was all over the place. Kevin Gregg finished up for his 10th save, despite allowing a two-out hit and a deja-vu dropped third strike (I know, we all had visions of the same thing leading to disaster Tuesday night in Atlanta). Props to Ryan Theriot for making a nice defensive play on a ball seemingly headed up the middle to lead off that 9th inning.

Since the eight-game losing streak ended, the Cubs have now won six of nine in spite of not really playing their best baseball during that time. They are two games over .500 for the first time since May 22, now tied with the Reds for third place, and only two games behind the division-leading Brewers in the loss column.

So stop worrying so much. Things appear to be improving. Onward.