Who are these guys?
Aramis Ramirez hit two home runs in a game for the first time since August 23, 2008. He raised his average to .184, as high as it's been since he was 3-for-15 (.200) after the season's fourth game and who knows? The Mendoza Line could be his next destination.
And by winning last night's game, they clinched their first series win at the house of horrors known as Chase Field since 2003. It is only the fourth series the Cubs have ever won in Phoenix (one each in 1998, 1999 and 2003 before this one) and if they can win tonight that would be their first-ever sweep there.
I know, I know. Don't get too greedy. Or dizzy. It's hard to get to those dizzying heights when these two wins brought the Cubs UP to ten games under the .500 mark. It was noted last night that if the Cubs were in the NL West, they might be contenders. They are 9-2 vs. the West (5-1 vs. the D'backs, 2-0 vs. the Rockies, 2-1 vs. the Dodgers), 28-45 against everyone else.
In addition to Aramis' two dingers, Kosuke Fukudome homered for the second straight game. That's the second time he's done that this year -- both times against Arizona pitching. Too bad the Cubs can't face D'backs pitchers all year; seven of their 11 hits were for extra bases (three doubles and a Starlin Castro triple, although one of the doubles was by Ryan Theriot, who had a TOOTBLAN at third base, another feat accomplished for the second day in a row).
The two Carloses also had good outings. Carlos Silva threw six credible innings, despite having a brief re-flareup of the knee problems that have bothered him this year. Carlos Marmol registered five outs and five K's even though he got an out that wasn't a K (there was a dropped third strike involved). That gives him 77 strikeouts in 40.2 innings -- that's 17 strikeouts per nine innings. It's even more ridiculous than that -- Marmol has faced 174 batters and the 77 batters K'd are 44.2% of all hitters he has faced. Both of those figures would be single-season records if held all year.
But wait! There's more! The 77 strikeouts ranks 26th in the National League. The next-ranked pitcher in K's who has thrown exclusively in relief is Tyler Clippard of the Nationals -- who ranks 57th with 57 strikeouts and who has thrown 11 more innings than Marmol. Marmol also ranks second on the Cubs pitching staff behind Ryan Dempster with the 77 K's -- one more than Randy Wells. He'll hold that spot for at least one more day (until Wells starts on Thursday against the Dodgers).
Here's where I make my case: the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo was placed on the DL and won't pitch in the All-Star Game. Carlos Silva might deserve consideration, but he will start on Sunday and so wouldn't be available anyway.
Charlie Manuel should name Marmol, who has 16 saves and a 1.18 WHIP, to replace Gallardo.
In the meantime, let's sweep this series tonight. It may not mean that much in what looks to be a lost season, but series sweeps are always sweet.