At last, the Cubs' top two starters have put together back-to-back outstanding starts, and guess what? The result, a pair of convincing wins over the Dodgers, including today's 5-1 Cubs win, gave the Cubs a series win, a winning roadtrip at 4-3, and a split of the season series with the Dodgers.
Feel better now?
Carlos Zambrano was dominant this afternoon, wearing the baggy road uniform that was officially dated to 1944 (although the Cubs wore essentially the same style from 1943-1956, as you can see from this display from the Hall of Fame's "Dressed To The Nines" page). I liked the look of the uniform and would love to see the Cubs do another throwback day as they did in 2008 when they wore 1948-style home uniforms. Big Z gave up just five hits, walked one and struck out five in eight solid innings, posting his fourth win and lowering his ERA to 4.23; he also got a hit, which gives him hits in four of his seven starts this season.
Speaking of hitting streaks, as we actually weren't, Andre Ethier was scratched from the Dodgers lineup with "left elbow inflammation", so his hitting streak remains at 29 games. Elbow trouble seems to be surrounding the Dodgers, as Jonathan Broxton is now down with the same ailment (although, for him, it's his right elbow, the pitching one). The Dodgers started a makeshift lineup today that included Aaron Miles leading off and a 26-year-old non-prospect rookie named Russ Mitchell, who started at third base and wound up in right field.
Also great to see today was Carlos Pena smashing a home run for the second consecutive game (maybe, at last, he's out of his slump) and Marlon Byrd hitting his first home run of the season, with two runners on base in the sixth inning to break open a close game. Geovany Soto also homered off his former battery mate Ted Lilly to provide the rest of the scoring. The only sour note was a couple of TOOTBLANs, Jeff Baker getting thrown out trying to stretch a pop fly that dropped between two Dodger fielders into a double, and Aramis Ramirez inexplicably taking off on a steal attempt (missed sign, perhaps?).
Sean Marshall finished up with a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation. It was Marshall's 14th appearance this season; he has allowed only one earned run and his WHIP stands at 1.08. With Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol forming an excellent setup/closing duo, and Jeff Samardzija now throwing better, if Cubs starters can continue getting games to the seventh and eighth inning... maybe a winning streak can happen. Even with poor performances by many hitters and all the starting pitching woes, the Cubs are only two games under .500 at 14-16. The upcoming homestand, all against tough opponents, will be an excellent indicator of the way the rest of the season may go.
This is the first time the Cubs have won a series at Dodger Stadium since April 17-19, 2006. I suspect you remember well what happened in the last game of that series, a 5-4 win; that was the day Rafael Furcal crashed into Derrek Lee and D-Lee's wrist was broken, ruining his season and starting the tailspin that wound up in a 96-loss campaign. Perhaps this series win can trigger better things for the rest of 2011.
Enjoy tomorrow's off day -- you can bet the Cubs will have an enjoyable flight home.