OAKLAND -- The Cubs used just two pitchers Wednesday night in an impressive 3-1 win over the Athletics.
It's entirely possible that neither of those two pitchers -- Matt Garza nor Kevin Gregg -- will be in a Cubs uniform when you next change the page on your 2013 calendar, if you still have such a paper item in your home or office.
Such things are what happen when a crisply-played win results simply in moving to 10 games under .500. The win, the Cubs' 11th in interleague play this year, also clinched a winning record in interleague for the Cubs for the first time since 2007. (Unfortunately, the other result of the 2007 season -- a division title -- isn't going to happen this year.)
Before I recap this game, let me mention that Cubs hitters did something Wednesday night that no Cubs team had done since July 29, 2006 -- go through a game without a single Cubs batter striking out. If you think this is rare, you're right -- it's happened only four times for the Cubs since 2000, including Wednesday night.
Cubs hitters were placing the ball all over the yard at the O.co Coliseum, pounding out 12 hits, five of them for extra bases. Luis Valbuena sneaked a home run over the right-field wall to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead in the third inning after a wild pitch had helped the Cubs take the lead in the first. The third run, a thing of beauty, resulted from back-to-back doubles by Dioner Navarro and Brian Bogusevic with two out and nobody on in the eighth.
Read that again. Two out and nobody on, and Navarro doubles -- sliding in just ahead of the tag. This is not an easy feat for the man who might be the slowest Cubs runner of all time. Then Bogusevic gets a hit with a RISP -- and two out, and an extra-base hit at that.
Meanwhile, Matt Garza was mowing down A's hitters; the only damage was a Brandon Moss home run with two out in the fourth inning. Only two other runners got past first base on Garza, who was allowed to pitch to Yoenis Cespedes with a runner on third and two out in the eighth. Garza got Cespedes to pop up to Darwin Barney, to cheers from the sizable contingent of Cubs fans in the near-sellout of 35,067. Kevin Gregg retired the first two A's in the ninth on five pitches, then walked John Jaso. Jaso, not a base stealer, took off for second with Josh Reddick at bat, surprising everyone including the Cubs. He was safe, by a lot.
Gregg, however, struck out Reddick to end it.
Will Garza make his next scheduled start, in the makeup game against the White Sox Monday? Will Gregg be around to save it, if needed?
I'd say probably yes, as there won't likely be a lot of trade action over the holiday weekend. But then, I've been wrong before. If these were the last appearances for Garza and Gregg in Cubs pinstripes, they leave us with good memories of this year, and hopefully a bushelful of prospects in return.
Now, let me tell you about my BART-inspired adventure getting to the Coliseum Wednesday night. Driving from San Francisco, approaching the Bay Bridge entrance off the Embarcadero near downtown, traffic was not moving. And when I say "not moving" onto the ramp, I mean 10 minutes with not a single car moving past either of the traffic signals approaching the bridge on-ramp.
Making an executive decision, I turned around and decided to take highway 101 dowen to the San Mateo Bridge, past SFO Airport, and over to the East Bay that way. That took almost two hours -- but it likely wouldn't have been any shorter if I had stayed in the line of traffic that wasn't moving. By the time I got parked, got something to eat (at the "Bar and Grille" on the 200 level, good food at reasonable prices) and got to my seat, it was nearly time for the first pitch. If you stopped by earlier looking for me -- sorry I missed you.
The Cubs have a chance -- and a decent one, too, with Travis Wood on the mound -- to win their fourth straight series Thursday afternoon. I won't be at this game as I need to catch a flight back to Chicago in order to be back in time for Friday's game at Wrigley. Thanks to the A's fans for their hospitality -- great fans, into the games, knowledgeable and passionate about their team (despite doing the wave a few times). A's fans deserve a new ballpark, and it ought to be in San Jose. Someone wake up Bud Selig and tell him to get this done, already.