This is another "no, I am not making this up" headline.
For only the ninth time in franchise history -- and it tied a team record for a road game -- the Chicago Cubs hit six home runs in a game. Let us record the names for posterity, because unless we do, future generations will not believe that a team this bad could accomplish this feat:
Tyler Colvin, Aramis Ramirez, Geovany Soto, Alfonso Soriano (twice, in back-to-back innings) and Marlon Byrd.
In last night's game preview, I said this might be a high-scoring game, and it was. The Cubs beat the Pirates 11-6, and it would have been a bigger blowout if not for some sloppy relief pitching in the eighth and ninth inning by Ramon Ortiz (please, can we cut him now?) and John Grabow (I was hoping for better, so maybe someone would want him in August).
How weird was this? It was more home runs than they had hit in their previous nine games combined. The Cubs were 10th in the NL in home runs (91) before Tuesday night's game; the six homers account for 6.2% of their entire season's worth of dingers, now 97. And, oddly enough, the last Cubs team to hit six homers in a game was also a miserably bad team, the 2006 Cubs, who hit six on September 17, 2006 at Wrigley Field. Oddly, one of the players who hit one that day also played in last night's game -- for the Pirates. Ronny Cedeno hit one that day. Click on the link for the rest -- you're likely to be amused.
It wasn't so amusing during the first inning. The Cubs actually began the scoring not with a home run, but Randy Wells had his usual first-inning jitters and gave up a pair to the Bucs. That made his first-inning ERA, which was bad (11.25) coming into this game, worse -- it's now 11.76.
But Colvin began the homer barrage in the second, his shot bouncing into the Allegheny River behind the right-field seats. Colvin's good day -- he missed a second homer by a couple of feet, settling for a double -- is a good beginning, though obviously he still has a long way to go to get back to last year's level and prove he belongs in the major leagues. Hey, Mike Quade! Play him every day, please. This is a good start -- don't bench him today (or, any day for at least a couple of weeks).
Wells settled down and wound up with a quality start, since he gave up no further runs and dropping his ERA to under six for the first time since early June. This is a good sign for the future, as Wells can be a capable fourth starter when he's on.
So the Cubs have now won three in a row for the second time in two weeks.
If I'd have written that sentence and said it would be a positive thing at the beginning of the season, you'd have known it was going to be a bad year. But it's all we've got, unfortunately. They'll go for four straight tonight at PNC, and even Quade admits the Cubs are just playing spoiler:
"It's great to play clubs that are contending," Quade said. "You wish you were one of them right now, and you're not. You come out to play every day, but there's a little more impetus when you play contenders, especially contenders in your own division. So for the time being, you just try and make it hard on all of them."
Wins are nice, and I hope the Cubs do keep winning. But if they do, I hope that doesn't blind management to the necessity of making changes, whether it be via waiver deals in August, and when the season is over. It's time for a makeover of this franchise.