I suppose you're expecting me to write something like this to lead off this recap of the Cubs' 11-4 blowout of the Cardinals Wednesday night:
"After a deluge of rain delayed Wednesday's game 53 minutes, the Cubs unleashed a deluge of hits on Cardinals pitchers and beat them 11-4 for their biggest win of 2011."
But I wouldn't do that. Would I? I'll leave that to other writers and just say that one pitcher last night (Matt Garza) was able to weather (groan) the delay, and the other (Jake Westbrook) wasn't. Credit to the grounds crew and the excellent drainage system at Wrigley Field for getting the field in shape very quickly after one of the hardest downpours in recent years, and a storm that had impressive-looking lightning displays severe enough to get Wrigley Field security to clear the entire bleachers and exposed box seat area, something they hadn't done in a couple of years, just before the Cubs were to bat in the bottom of the third inning. (No truth to the rumor that the thunder and lightning was ordered up specifically for Lance Berkman.)
When Westbrook returned, he struck out Garza and then the next seven Cubs all reached base, six of them on hits and one (Marlon Byrd) who got hit. The two biggest blows were a two-run double by Carlos Pena and a two-run single from Starlin Castro. By the time Garza struck out for a second time to end the inning, the Cubs had their biggest inning of the season.
If you've been concerned about Pena, he's got his batting average up now to a more acceptable .228; if he can put another 10-15 points on that BA, keep drawing walks and start hitting homers at his previous pace, the hole in the middle of the lineup will be solidified.
Everyone hit last night (well, except Garza, who really can't hit at all, and Tyler Colvin, who came into the game in the sixth and went 0-for-2 and might be better served by playing every day for Iowa). The Cubs scored four more off Cardinals ex-closer Ryan Franklin in the fifth, including two triples to right-center field past Berkman. Berkman appears to be able to catch everything that's hit right at him, but if you can hit the ball in the gap, it takes forever for him to catch up to it. Wrigley Field isn't a good triples park and for there to be two in one inning... well, suffice to say that the Cardinals got Berkman out of there after they scored three runs off Jeff Samardzija in the seventh and briefly gave an idea that they were thinking about coming back.
Even Koyie Hill got into the fun, hitting a double and a triple. That gives him a selection of one hit of each category (single, double, triple, home run) this season and a very odd triple slash line of .200/.304/.500. Even so, a wild pitch got by him, and here's hoping that Mike Quade gives Welington Castillo the bulk of the playing time while Geovany Soto is out. Soto, for his part, will head to Arizona for rehab next week and said he expects to be back as soon as his DL stint ends, which is good news.
The only discordant note last night was set by third base coach "Wavin' Ivan" DeJesus, who sent two runners to sure outs at the plate in the first four innings. With nobody out in the second, Aramis Ramirez had no chance to score; why DeJesus would have sent him when the Cubs could have had the bases loaded and nobody out is a mystery. DeJesus did it again in the fourth to Kosuke Fukudome, this time with one out. No more of this, please.
The announced crowd of 34,439 was 190 more than Tuesday night's, but the park looked less full and after the downpour, about half of those remaining departed. By game's end no more than 2,000 or so remained. The two teams will have at it again this afternoon, weather permitting:
Today: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 1pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 80. Southeast wind between 5 and 10 mph.
The Cubs once again will have a chance to win a series at home, coming off their largest run and hit production and margin of victory of 2011. The game preview will post at 11:30 a.m. CDT.