This Cubs season has been so dismal that even after a nicely played game like today's 9-4 win over the Diamondbacks, there's something that reminds us of the awfulness of what's gone down in the first half.
The win today is the Cubs' first win in the first game of a series since May 25 against the Dodgers -- 12 series ago. When the Cubs took two of three from the then-first place Dodgers, they were 23-25 and only five games out of first place.
Things, obviously, aren't as good now. Today's win, coupled with the Giants' 6-1 win over the Brewers ... moved the Cubs to within one game of Milwaukee for third place in the NL Central.
Yes, I'm reaching.
The Cubs reached base quickly this afternoon when Kosuke Fukudome, in a rare start, led off the game with a home run. They added three in the third inning and by the time Arizona starter Ian Kennedy was mercifully yanked by new manager Kirk Gibson in the sixth, the Cubs had a 7-3 lead.
Oddly enough, the D'backs much maligned bullpen then came in and it looked like they were going to shut the Cubs down enough to keep it close (within a save-situation differential of 7-4) until Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run homer off Juan Gutierrez, taking the team lead in HR back from Tyler Colvin, putting the game away.
Carlos Marmol, who was warming up for that save situation, came in the game anyway and struck out the side, giving him 69 strikeouts in 39 innings. Cubs pitchers struck out 12 Diamondbacks today, not surprising as Arizona leads the major leagues in batter strikeouts (entering the game with 90 K's more than the next worst team, the Marlins). They also walked nine; somewhat surprisingly for such a free-swinging team, the D'backs rank fifth in the majors (and second in the NL to the Braves) in bases on balls drawn. This likely means that the next two games will last as long or longer than today's did (3 hours and 7 minutes).
The result of all that is that Cubs pitchers had to throw 179 pitches to finally put the D'backs away, 103 of them by starter Tom Gorzelanny, who walked six in five innings. Gorz was credited with the win, only his second since the first weekend of May.
Hesitantly, I say that this series looks like one the Cubs might actually win. It may not mean much in the long run, but wins are always better than losses, especially in Chase Field, where the Cubs "raised" their all-time regular season W-L record to 16-29. They'll play again tomorrow and Wednesday evening.