Before we discuss the Cubs 1-0 win over the Dodgers this afternoon, let's get the medical report out of the way.
Via tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun-Times, Carlos Zambrano spent the day at the hospital with appendicitis-like symptoms. It's been a tumultuous year for Z already -- this would be a real bad break for him.
Also from Twittermyer, Jeff Baker had to leave today's game in the eighth inning for a very scary reason:
Baker left game with complete loss of vision in right eye. Being examined.
We hope, of course, that both Z and Baker are OK. But it was Baker's replacement, Mike Fontenot, who began the Cubs' winning rally in the bottom of the eighth with a triple into the right field corner that the Dodgers' Xavier Paul couldn't handle. One batter later, Tyler Colvin, who came into the game along with Sean Marshall in a double-switch, hit a ball to almost the same spot; this time when Paul fumbled around with it, Colvin also wound up on third on an error after being credited with a double.
The Cubs once again couldn't get a runner home from third with less than two out -- but this time it didn't matter, as Carlos Marmol struck out pinch hitters Manny Ramirez and Garret Anderson after a walk for his 11th save. Marmol now has pitched 24.2 innings -- 74 outs -- and has registered 49 of them via strikeout.
That saved the Cubs' first 1-0 win in more than three years, since Jason Marquis shut out the Pirates 1-0 on May 9, 2007. Ted Lilly gave up only three singles, along with three walks. He walked the bases loaded in the fifth, but got out of it with a popup that seemed to hang up in the sunshiny sky forever before Starlin Castro caught it.
Give credit to Dodgers rookie John Ely (and I will, mercifully, leave all the Ely/Lilly/Prozac jokes to the multitude of tweeters who lit up the Twitterverse with them this morning). Ely gave up only a pair of walks and a double to Derrek Lee, and a seventh-inning single to Kosuke Fukudome, the only hitter other than Lee to reach base against him.
And then there was Colvin, who, although I have no game log proof of it, very likely faced Ely when they were both in the Southern League in 2009 (Colvin with the Cubs' Tennessee club, Ely with the White Sox' team at Birmingham). Perhaps Colvin had seen Ely before and knew what was coming. In any case -- all the right buttons got pushed today, and the Cubs have their second straight series win against a team with a winning record. They've now won eight of their last eleven, and can pick up ground on both the Reds and Cardinals, who have later games today. The Cardinals, in fact, are playing a strange 3:35 PDT start against the Padres, which will likely get them to Chicago well after midnight for the day game tomorrow. Let's hope for another 13-inning Cardinals loss like they had last night.
Yes, that's right, the same Cardinals who, according to some here, were "dominant" and were going to "run away with the division". They've scored one run in two games in San Diego, while the Cubs are beginning to look like a solid team.
The sun shone today on Wrigley (on the smallest crowd this year, 33,868); it felt like an old-time game, 1-0 in the afternoon sunshine. It's supposed to be beautiful weather all weekend. The Cardinals? Bring 'em on.