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Random Cubs Recap: July 28, 1991

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You're going to like this one, I think. Your hint is in the photo. And no, it's not a photo from the game in question, or even the same year. I could make you guess, but it's from an Opening Day (pretty obvious, from the bunting on the wall).

1991 could have been a good year for the Cubs. They got off to a bad start and fired manager Don Zimmer when he pressed management for a contract extension. Jim Essian, who had been a top managerial prospect, took over.

And has never been heard from since.

Andre Dawson is on another one of his hot streaks. He's hitting .364/.391/.818 with three HR and 10 RBI in his last six games, and his pair of home runs with four RBI led the Cubs to a 6-2 win over the Atlanta Braves this afternoon at Wrigley Field.

The victory gave the Cubs the series win over the Braves, completed a 4-2 homestand, and made them 10-5 since the All-Star break.

Maybe it's too late to get back in the divisional race -- the Pirates are still running away with the NL East, seven games ahead of the Mets -- but at least, perhaps there's a chance to get the team back over .500 (now just two games under at 48-50). Jim Essian's record as manager also reached the .500 mark at 30-30; though the Cubs had a shaky start under his leadership, they're starting to look like they could save his job for several years to come. Essian is only 40 and part of the new breed of managers that's getting established in modern day baseball. Good to know that the Cubs aren't just looking at old-school guys like Don Zimmer.

Mike Bielecki gave up a pair of runs to the Braves in the first inning, but that was it; after that, he allowed three singles and a pair of walks. He improved his record to 11-7 and is starting to look like the guy who finished ninth in NL Cy Young voting just two years ago. Dawson's first homer, a three-run blast that followed singles by Mark Grace and Ryne Sandberg, gave the Cubs a fourth-inning lead that they never relinquished, and his second homer in the eighth off Mike Stanton put the Cubs ahead 5-2. They added one more run in the inning and Paul Assenmacher finished things off for his 11th save.

33,782 were in attendance, just a handful fewer than yesterday, on a coolish, cloudy day (74 degrees at game time) for late July. But we don't care about the temperatures as long as the team is winning, right?

Hopefully, the Cubs can keep it going on the upcoming trip, a tough one to Cincinnati, New York and Philadelphia, starting after tomorrow's off day. Greg Maddux will take the mound against the Reds to open the trip.