All the Cubs can do each day is exactly what they did this afternoon -- come out, swing the bats, come from behind if necessary, make plays in the field... and who knows what might happen in the future?
Jake Fox hit a grand slam and drove in five runs to lead the Cubs to an 11-4 win over the Mets, and now the Cubs have a nice little four-out-of-six run going.
Whatever you think of Fox playing in the field -- and he's obviously only adequate at any of his defensive positions, and wouldn't have come near the nice running catch Sam Fuld made in the 8th after replacing him -- the man can hit, and is a fine player to have on a major league bench. Between Iowa and the Cubs this season, Fox now has 324 at-bats. In those AB, he has combined for 24 doubles, 27 HR and 92 RBI, while hitting .355/.430/.701. Most impressive, and though he won't come close to being voted Rookie of the Year, I could see giving him a third-place vote.
He'll probably play left field again tomorrow, as Lou reported in his postgame press conference that Alfonso Soriano's MRI showed only "inflammation" in his knee, no major damage, and he'll be examined tomorrow and possibly get a "shot" (I suppose Lou meant cortisone, if they still do that), and perhaps Soriano will be available by Monday.
In the meantime, Fox is more than a capable fill-in.
It started out as one of those games that you're glad you're the home team and have the last at-bat; Ryan Dempster got himself in trouble with a walk and a pair of hits leading to two runs in the first inning, and though the Cubs took the lead in the third (thanks in part to Dempster getting the walk back as a hitter), he gave it right back in the fourth. Dempster appeared to be trying to throw as hard as the wind was blowing today; he didn't have good command, though he did register seven strikeouts. The Cubs got a break in what could have been a Mets blowout inning in that fourth; Fernando Tatis tried to score with nobody out and two runs already in when a throw appeared to get away, but Mike Fontenot's relay cut him down. After that Dempster settled down and allowed only two more baserunners, while the offense was bailing him out in the fifth.
Nice game today for Milton Bradley, who had hits in his first three at-bats (making seven straight plate appearances he had reached base, including the four yesterday), and blasted a RBI double off the wall in the third, scoring Dempster. There were some scattered boos early in the game when Bradley was announced, but his play today turned those into cheers by the time he came up and walked in the eighth. I won't boo Bradley -- in fact, I hope he has a great September, because that would truly help the team. Aramis Ramirez also had a nice day today, with a pair of hits and RBI and a nice snag of a hot line drive by Angel Pagan. And Koyie Hill chipped in with two hits, including a RBI double; Hill's triple-slash numbers of .245/.329/.347 aren't great, but they are at least the equal of Geovany Soto's (.215/.322/.377). For now, I think Hill deserves the bulk of the playing time; Soto can get into shape and work hard and win the job back next spring.
Aaron Heilman came in and threw two scoreless innings in what might be his last appearance as a Cub. It was a bit surprising that Lou didn't leave him in to finish the game and get a save, but Sean Marshall hadn't thrown since Tuesday, so I can actually understand Lou's motivation to get Marshall an inning of work.
It was chilly today, and you could see the effects of the strong west-northwest wind in the upper deck seats. The LF upper deck, which was blocked from the wind, stayed full most of the game, but the RF upper deck, fully exposed, emptied out after the seventh inning stretch.
It was 64 degrees at game time and never got much warmer. 64 degrees is the average high temperature in Chicago on October 16. Let's hope this good Cubs play of the last two days keeps up and we have the chance to experience baseball at Wrigley Field on and after that date. Keep the faith.