No matter how this season ends up -- and it's still a long uphill climb before we can have any talk at all about "pennant race" in Chicago -- it is always, ALWAYS satisfying to defeat the Cardinals.
That's especially true when it's done in style, as it was today in a 5-0 Cubs shutout victory on the hottest afternoon of the year. Game time temperature was reported as 89 degrees, but it had to be in the mid-90's with high humidity most of the day.
With the wind blowing out and balls leaving the yard and banging into the bleachers and Waveland during batting practice, it seemed as if it could be one of those record-breaking HR sort of days. However, and fortunately for the Cubs, only they got the long-ball memo. Tyler Colvin hit his first career leadoff HR (and only the second such homer for a Cub this season -- Kosuke Fukudome led off the game on July 5 in Arizona) with a homer); Geovany Soto and Alfonso Soriano also both went deep.
Meanwhile, Randy Wells was mowing down Cardinals. Ever since Wells figured out his first-inning woes, he's been lights-out. In his last five starts he's posted a 1.30 ERA in 34.2 innings, walked 11, struck out 30 and allowed only one home run. Today's fine seven-inning, five-singles-allowed, no-run outing lowered his season ERA to 4.07.
Meanwhile, any time the cubs see "Jeff Suppan" in the opponent's pitching slot, they lick their chops. The three Cub homers were all off Suppan; in 15.1 innings against the Cubs this season (two starts as a Brewer, today with the Cardinals), Suppan has allowed 26 hits, six home runs, and posted an 8.22 ERA. I'm surprised they just don't release him -- they're only paying him the minimum salary after the Brewers let him go in June, and there have to be Cardinals minor leaguers who could do better than that.
Fortunately for the Cubs, though, they haven't done it yet.
A few other notes:
- Since we often criticize Ryan Theriot on this site for his TOOTBLANs, credit where credit is due: Theriot scored from second base on an infield popup that landed near the pitcher's mound, untouched by Cardinal fielders.
- The game ran a brisk 2:25, appreciated by all on the blazing, sticky afternoon.
- The Cubs held Albert Pujols to an 0-for-4 day, appreciated after his three-homer game at Wrigley earlier this year.
- Sean Marshall issued a pair of walks in his two-inning, game-finishing appearance, but got out of the first one in the eighth with a slick DP, and the second one led to a pinch-hit appearance by Aaron Miles. Marshall struck out Miles to end the game. (Incidentally, the scoreboard said Miles was hitting .327. That first "3" should have been a "1", right? It must have been an electronic glitch.)
- BCB'er Vermont Cubs Fan sold off his terrace tickets for a bleacher ticket and joined us once again. He seemed much happier (and less sunburned) after today's win.
The Cardinals have now been shut out twice in a row and haven't scored in 20 consecutive innings. Regardless of any status of the division standings, it would be nice to continue that tomorrow. It's always nice to beat the Cardinals.
And one final note: based on what I heard today, there are no imminent deals involving Cubs players, one week before the non-waiver trade deadline. I'll keep my ears open.