I wish I could take credit for this one, but I can't -- credit is due to TV broadcaster Len Kasper, who referred to Jake Fox, Sam Fuld, Kosuke Fukudome and Mike Fontenot as the "F Troop", after the 1960's Western sitcom.
Fox led the F Troopers this afternoon, going 4-for-4 with his 9th HR and a pair of RBI; Fukudome chipped in with an RBI single; Fontenot made a couple of nice defensive plays, and Fuld singled. Only Fukudome, among this group, is a regular player, and he'll sit against LHP once Reed Johnson comes back. It's really nice to see these guys contributing, and while the Cubs remain eight games behind the Cardinals, salvaging one game of this series gives the Cubs a chance to have a pleasant plane ride back to Chicago, at the very least.
Oh yes -- one more thing about "F Troop". One of the actors starring in that series was named Ken Berry. At the same time the series aired -- 1965-67 -- a mainstay of center field in the American League was also named Ken Berry. Just to keep this reference on a baseball-oriented track.
Credit also due to Ryan Dempster, who was outstanding today -- Lou actually let him start the eighth inning, which was the right thing to do. Dempster ran out of gas and had to be rescued by John Grabow, who wasn't sharp today but managed to get out of the inning thanks to a couple of huge breaks. First, Fontenot's foot was off second base -- not by much, but replays showed it was -- on an attempted forceout. 2B umpire Chad Fairchild gave the Cubs the call anyway; Russell Martin advanced to third base on the play and he would have scored on the next at-bat had 3B umpire Wally Bell not called time before Orlando Hudson popped a ball into short center field that was lost in the sun. The ruling was "no play" and Hudson had to hit again. Only then did Grabow get him to hit into a double play to end the inning.
Here's how I see that. The Cubs have 100 years' worth of breaks coming to them. We'll take it.
And Carlos Marmol was outstanding in getting his fifth save of the year, and first since officially replacing Kevin Gregg as closer. He ran the count full on Andre Ethier before slipping a really nice-looking slider right over the plate to get him on a swinging strikeout (after he fouled off three other sliders), and then got another slider past Manny Ramirez for strike three called to end the game.
The Cubs' starting pitching was nothing short of outstanding on this road trip. Starting pitchers gave up 1, 4, 1, 2, 2, 2, and 1 runs in their seven starts on this trip, and today's run was unearned. If the starters can just stretch out their outings a little bit longer and the Cubs can generate any offense at all during the upcoming homestand, good things can follow. Onward, keep the faith. Go Cubs.