At the tail end of a dismal season, suddenly there's Cubs baseball to celebrate.
Normally, I'd wait till morning to post this recap, but I'm heading on the road to Milwaukee for tomorrow's day game, so I thought I'd get the recap of Saturday's 1-0 Cubs win over the Brewers posted now -- and there are good things to talk about.
First, Ryan Dempster posted his 100th career victory in his third attempt, and best of all, threw seven outstanding innings after having two bad starts in a row. At 105 pitches, he probably could have gone longer, but with the Cubs leading only 1-0, Mike Quade probably figured it was time to try for some more offense. Tyler Colvin couldn't come through, but the bullpen did.
Andrew Cashner was a bit shaky before striking out Ryan Braun on a 98 MPH fastball; Sean Marshall set up Prince Fielder beautifully with breaking pitches before K'ing him on a 92 MPH fastball, and Carlos Marmol posted his 30th save on only nine pitches. It's the first of what we hope will be many 30-save seasons for Marmol in a Cubs uniform.
The Cubs posted back-to-back shutouts for the first time since September 28, 2007 and September 29, 2007 at Cincinnati; the 9/28/07 win clinched a tie for the NL Central title and the Cubs won it later that evening when the Brewers lost.
Ah, memories, and hopes of things to come in the future. Xavier Nady clanked his sixth home run of the season off the left-field foul pole in the seventh inning and that was the only offense the Cubs needed Saturday night in front of a near-sellout of 41,463 that included a large contingent of Cubs fans. They were very loud cheering for Nady's blast. I would expect, with the NFL kicking off tomorrow and both the Bears (at noon) and Packers (at 3:15) playing, tomorrow's Miller Park crowd will be quite a bit smaller.
No matter. The Cubs will be going for their second sweep in Milwaukee this season and if you really want to be optimistic, they have not thrown three straight shutouts (which is the most consecutive shutouts since 1920) since July 21, 22 and 24, 1992, when they shut out the Reds 1-0 and 3-0, and then the Astros 1-0. The winning pitcher in the second of those three was some guy named Greg Maddux, who was on his way to his first Cy Young Award that year.
Finally, with no disrespect meant to the memory of 9/11, if baseball is going to have patriotic caps next year for the various holidays and remembrances, they've got to make caps that look better than the ice cream man hats they made this season. Quite frankly, the white caps cheapen the reason they're being worn by looking terrible.