Now you know my secret plan: Lobby hard for the designated hitter in the National League. Because obviously, it's got Cubs pitchers upset with me, intent on proving me wrong.
Seriously, I can't take credit for this and I can't explain it, either; Travis Wood hit a grand slam Thursday and threw six solid innings in leading the Cubs to an 8-3 win over the White Sox. The Cubs outscored the Sox 24-6 in the three games played this week and won this trophy, in case you actually care about it. (At least one Cubs player said he didn't.)
Cubs pitchers have now accomplished a never-before-done feat:
According to Elias, #Cubs are 1st NL team to get 19 RBIs from pitchers in a calendar month. Pre DH #Tigers had 20 in Aug 1940— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) May 30, 2013
Congratulations to Wood and the rest of the Cubs pitching staff for all the hitting this month. To me, this is more of a freak than anything that can be sustained, and when all is said and done, the designated hitter will come to the National League. Until then, I'm enjoying this as much as you are. It's certainly entertaining, and it has helped the Cubs win games. My cap's off to you, Travis and the others.
Wood's grand slam was the first by a Cubs pitcher since Jason Marquis hit one against the Mets at Shea Stadium September 22, 2008. It was the first by a Cubs pitcher at Wrigley Field in almost 41 years, since Burt Hooton did it, also against the Mets, September 16, 1972.
Just two other Cubs pitchers have hit grand slams in franchise history: Kevin Tapani at Atlanta against the Braves, July 20, 1998 and Clay Bryant, who as a relief pitcher hit a grand slam in the top of the 10th inning, the game-winning blow in a 10-7 win over the Braves in Boston in the second game of a doubleheader August 28, 1937.
So we all saw a rare feat Thursday afternoon, and the result of the game was pleasing as well, the Cubs' fourth straight. A bit more on the game to come, but first, a bit about the weather.
It was really, really windy at Wrigley Field Thursday afternoon. How windy was it? If you didn't see it live during WGN-TV's telecast of the game, this happened when I tried to unfurl my umbrella during a fourth-inning rainshower that lasted maybe five minutes, just hard enough to warrant trying to get under cover. Obviously, it didn't work. Fortunately, the rain stopped and umbrella repairs were effected.
Meanwhile, Cubs bats were hitting former nemesis Jake Peavy hard. In the inning before Wood's granny, the Cubs put together four straight hits after the first two men in the inning were out, always a nice thing to see, producing two runs. Wood gave one of those runs back in the third, but then hit his slam, giving the Cubs a 6-1 lead. Nate Schierholtz and Luis Valbuena also homered; all three homers had a bit of help from the strong southwest breeze, but we will certainly take them. Valbuena also singled and doubled.
James Russell, Zach Putnam and Carlos Marmol combined for two scoreless innings and then the ball was turned over to Kevin Gregg in the ninth inning. As often happens with closers in non-save situations, Gregg struggled a bit with his command, although he struck out two. He hadn't thrown since Sunday and needed the work, but he allowed his first earned run of the season, and now, with 32 pitches thrown in that inning (with thunder and lightning producing a background of "get this thing over with already!"), he might not be available Friday, when the Cubs welcome the Diamondbacks for a three-game set (weather permitting). Not two minutes after the final out was recorded, it started raining in the Wrigleyville area.
During the Cubs' four-game winning streak they have outscored their opponents 29-10, and now sport a run differential of +6, despite being eight games under .500. It's the first time the Cubs have won the season series from the White Sox since 2007, with the rainout from Tuesday still to be rescheduled.
I still want the DH in the National League. But for now, I salute Cubs pitchers. Heck of a month. Nicely done.