Well, look at that.
The Cubs now go into Sunday's game with a chance to actually win a series over the Rockies in Denver for the first time since August 3-5, 2004, when they swept a three-game set. The recent bad performance by the Cubs in Denver is unusual -- they're 7-14 there since '04. When the Rockies franchise was first created, the Cubs actually played them better at Coors Field than at Wrigley Field; they went 23-19 there from 1995 through 2004.
Saturday night, Starlin Castro had a career-high-matching four hits, including his first home run of the season, and the Cubs beat the Rockies 8-3, exploding for a season high 17 hits and evening up the team record at 7-7. Castro's big night raised his batting average to .397, which, pending the end of Saturday's Cardinals/Dodgers game, will rank either fourth or fifth in the National League. Casey Coleman went into the sixth inning and allowed just one run before being taken out as a precaution after a line drive went off his leg. It ended a seven-game Rockies winning streak and was the first Colorado loss of the season in nine innings (their previous two defeats were both in extra innings).
Even more miraculous, Koyie Hill had his first hit of the season -- a beautifully placed bunt. Hill later scored on Castro's home run. Coleman also had a hit and it strikes me that perhaps he could fill the old Jason Marquis role on the team, being able to pinch-run and maybe pinch-hit once in a while if needed.
Len & Bob spent a fair amount of the telecast extolling the virtues of fried Twinkies. You could probably gain weight just looking at one of those. But that's the kind of fun you can have when your team is winning. Alfonso Soriano also homered Saturday night, his fifth of the season; in all the major leagues, only Lance Berkman and the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki have more. And the Cubs have held "Tulo" down pretty well in this series; he did triple and score a run for Colorado in this game, but his home run streak was halted at four.
James Russell threw just two pitches on Saturday night, leading to speculation that Jeff Samardzija will be the individual starting the "College of Pitchers" when it goes Tuesday night against the Padres at Wrigley Field. But two pitches shouldn't rule Russell out, either, nor should it be felt that management couldn't come to its senses and put an actual starting pitcher on the mound on Tuesday evening. Who should that be? Does it matter? The Rockies need a starter on Sunday and they're starting Alan Johnson, a seven-year minor league veteran who has made 148 minor league starts without even sniffing a September callup and who hasn't posted an ERA under 5 since 2007. Why not just throw a dart at the Triple-A Iowa rotation and call up whoever's chosen?
Oh, and one more thing. Jason Giambi is 40. He looks a lot older. He can still hit, but he's a statue in the field.
Anyway, with Ryan Dempster going Sunday, this gives the Cubs a decent shot at winning the series (caveat: the Cubs' history when seeing pitchers like Alan Johnson who they've never seen before), which would also give them a winning road trip and two consecutive winning series. Nothing wrong with that. Sunday's game preview will be up at 12 noon CDT.