Try to think of it this way. If someone had told you last Wednesday that the Cubs were going to take three of four from the Phillies, you'd have been pretty happy, right? (Well, except for some of you who want the Cubs to "blow it up", I suppose.)
That's exactly what they did, and instead, now we feel some mild disappointment because the Cubs came within one dropped throw of a four-game sweep.
So let's keep looking at the good. The Cubs beat the Phillies 11-6 Sunday night, their second blowout win of the series -- although again, a sloppy ninth inning made the score closer than it should have. James Russell gave up a pair of solo homers, one to Ryan Howard, who wound up with four on the weekend. Everyone except Aramis Ramirez and Ryan Theriot reached base and scored -- and that's everyone including pitcher Tom Gorzelanny, who surprised himself with a single up the middle off Roy Halladay, and also the nearly-forgotten Jeff Baker (who hasn't started a game since July 1), who came into the game in a double switch in the seventh and singled twice. Reliever Andrew Cashner had his first MLB at-bat and struck out, so he didn't join the hit parade, either.
Ramirez had a tough day. He went 0-for-4 and made an error which allowed the Phillies' second run of the fifth inning to score. That made the score 4-2 and made many think, "Uh-oh, here we go again."
But the Cubs answered that with a pair in the sixth and blew it open with a five-run seventh which featured a bases-clearing double from Derrek Lee.
In that sixth inning, Marlon Byrd got hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. Both HBP's were on the first pitch Byrd saw, and this is something Cubs fans have literally not seen in a century. The club record for HBP in a season is 23, by outfielder Bill Dahlen in 1898. The post-1900 record is 17, by Frank Chance in 1905.
The two pitches that hit Byrd last night gave him 16 so far this season -- so the post-1900 record is in imminent danger of being broken. Since 1906 -- when Harry Steinfeldt was hit 14 times -- only one other Cub has had that many before Byrd. Scott Servais was hit 14 times in 1996.
It's not as if Byrd usually is a HBP machine, either -- some players, like Craig Biggio and Jason Kendall (the current active leader with 252), make a career out of it -- his previous season high, last year, was 10, and his lifetime total of 62 ranks 49th on the active-player list.
The two last night were important, though -- both preceded home runs, the first by Geovany Soto to the opposite field, the second a no-doubt-about-it-off-the-bat shot from Alfonso Soriano. Byrd scored a third time after walking in the seventh.
Other good things from last night, besides Gorzelanny's fourth straight solid outing since returning to the rotation: Tyler Colvin and Starlin Castro, hitting 1-2 in the lineup, had six combined hits and three runs scored between them. Maybe Lou ought to try this combination for a while.
BCB'er Vermont Cubs Fan, depressed after Saturday's loss, decided to join us in the bleachers last night -- safe to say, he had a much better time on Sunday. And both he and BCB'er mrcubsfan said the same thing to me -- that besides the win, the best part of spending a Sunday night at the ballpark was not having to listen to Joe Morgan.
Sounds good to me. Now let's go get those Astros.