The portal to the alternate universe that opened briefly for the first two games of this series, then closed last night, apparently opened again for today's 12-7 Cubs win over the Brewers.
Not only did the Cubs win, they scored more runs Thursday afternoon (12) than they did in all three games of the series combined. They hit three home runs -- their first three-homer game since May 4 at Los Angeles and it gave them seven home runs in this series. That's as many as they had in the 13 games prior to this series combined.
Not only that, it was a gorgeous day at Wrigley Field, with temperatures in the upper 70s and puffy fair-weather clouds scudding on by. That, in itself, is newsworthy, as we have had maybe three or four days like that all year, out of 35 home dates. The wind was blowing strongly out to right field, which helped a few of the home runs, but not the one hit by Alfonso Soriano in the seventh inning. That one clanked off the railing of the back of the bleachers directly behind our section, resulting in this photo of me looking disappointed that I couldn't snag it. Incidentally, also in that photo in the blue shirt is BCBer Vermont Cubs Fan, and in the red, BCBer Shanghai Badger, who joined us in Section 301 today.
I should point out that it was Shanghai Badger who predicted before this series began that the Cubs would take three of four. Many scoffed, including me. But credit where credit is due: he was right.
The game started out like one of those pickup games where you're glad you have last bats. The Brewers quickly scored a pair off Matt Garza on a home run by Ryan Braun. The Cubs came right back and got a pair of hits off Zack Greinke in the last of the inning, scoring one on a Starlin Castro double and then Castro scored himself on a wild pitch, the first of two runs that would score today on Greinke wild pitches. Greinke struck out 10 Cubs in 5.1 innings, but his fastball must have been fairly flat, because Cubs hitters were whacking it all over the yard, eight hits in all, three of them for extra bases, including Carlos Pena's 10th HR of the season, which gave the Cubs the lead they'd never relinquish at 6-5 after three.
By that time both teams had scored in every inning. But Garza settled down and gave up nothing except another single and a walk, while Greinke was being nibbled to death. After two singles and a K in the sixth, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke played "by the book" and brought in Daniel Ray Herrera, just off waivers from the Reds, because everyone knows you have to have a lefthanded pitcher face a lefthanded hitter in the sixth inning with runners on.
Kosuke Fukudome made Roenicke, Herrera and the Brewers pay with a three-run homer; by then he had a single, triple and home run along with four RBI, one of the best (if not the best) days he's had as a Cub, making the score 9-5. Soriano's home run off ex-Cub Sergio "Meat Tray" Mitre made it 11-5 and they eked another run off Mitre in the eighth; John Grabow tried very hard to give the lead back, but could only give up a pair of runs before inducing a game-ending double play. The only (mild) disappointment was Fukudome not hitting a double in the eighth inning, which would have given him the first Cub cycle since Mark Grace did it on May 9, 1993. But that's a minor quibble with a fine afternoon.
It hasn't been a good season, but the Cubs played good and winning baseball three of the last four days, and that ought to count for something, anyway. The Yankees, who went 12 innings and used four relievers today (including two innings from Mariano Rivera), will be at Wrigley starting tomorrow for a weekend series, with summer weather here at last.
Even in a season as miserable as this one has been so far, that ought to be fun.