I mean, I...
Where do I even...
This team makes no sense at all. They had scored 13 runs in their previous five games combined (and won three of them with solid pitching). I even made a point of saying in the recap to Tuesday's win that the Cubs' offense was going to have to get better if the winning were to continue, because you can't expect that kind of pitching to go on for too long.
They might not have read what I wrote, probably didn't, almost certainly didn't, in fact, but took the lesson to heart anyway in a 16-9 thrashing of the Red Sox that completed a series sweep.
For this offensively-challenged team it wasn't even the biggest run output of the season -- that was the 17-5 demolition of the Cardinals back on May 12. The Cubs were 13-24 after that win and now, at 37-46, have played 24-22 ball, or just a bit over .500, for a 46-game span. They hadn't been as high as nine games under .500 since they were 12-21 after still another blowout, 12-5 over the White Sox on May 8. So that's .500 ball played over a 50-game span, nearly one-third of the season.
More fun with numbers: Wednesday night's run output combined with the other two noted above total 45 runs, an average of 15 runs per game for those three. That's 13.9 percent of all the runs the Cubs have scored this season in just those three games. In the other 80 games, the Cubs have scored 278 runs, an average of 3.48 per game.
The 16 runs was the most allowed by the Red Sox this year, and Boston doesn't look anything like the team that won the World Series last October. In fact, the way they're playing, they could be headed to a 90-loss season -- the defeat puts them also nine games under .500, and their current winning percentage would project to 72-90. I can't, off the top of my head, think of any team that went from 90+ losses to 90+ wins and a World Series title the next season and back to 90+ losses the subsequent year. Can you?
There were too many offensive Cubs heroes Wednesday night to name them all, but I'll give it a shot. The team hit a season-high four home runs (Justin Ruggiano, Mike Olt, Welington Castillo and Nate Schierholtz, all but Schierholtz' with a man on base). Ruggiano wound up with five RBI on the night and every starting player had at least one hit and one run scored and everyone drove one in except Anthony Rizzo, who singled twice and scored twice.
And Darwin Barney went 4-for-5, raising his batting average to .214, the highest it's been since mid-September 2013. You know, if Barney could even hit .240 he'd be a useful player due to his elite defense (including one play Wednesday night where he took a throw from Brian Schlitter when he wasn't even on second base and recorded an out anyway). It was the third four-hit game of Barney's career.
The pitching wasn't too good, but it didn't have to be with the 16 runs scored. Travis Wood struggled and had to be pulled with a 6-3 lead and two out in the fourth inning. Carlos Villanueva wasn't much better, as he allowed Mookie Betts' first big-league homer in the fifth. That made the score at the time 8-5 Cubs, and it appeared this might be one of those games in which both teams scored in double figures. The Red Sox made it close to that with a three-run rally in the ninth, and had Jonny Gomes walked (he thought he had!) instead of taking strike three to end the game, it might have broken the Cubs' team record for longest nine-inning game by time. Four hours, 19 minutes was how long this one lasted, three minutes shorter than this Cubs/Brewers game May 11, 2000, which was the longest nine-inning game ever at the time it was played. The length of this one makes it the 15th-longest nine-inning game in major-league history.
One more bit about numbers: the 25 total runs was the most combined runs scored in a Cubs game since this 15-11 win over the White Sox exactly eight years ago, July 2, 2006. (Something about "July 2" and "Sox?" I dunno.)
You all know how I feel about long games. But when there are tons of runs and lots of action making the game long, that's okay. It's the 3-2 games that drag on for three hours and 45 minutes that are hard to take. This one was fun, especially the ninth inning in which the teams combined for nine runs; that inning ran almost 40 minutes and didn't do Justin Grimm's ERA any favors. Maybe it's time to send him back to Iowa.
The Cubs have now won three straight road series and have improved their road record to a no-longer-worst-in-baseball 18-26. They continue their road act Friday in Washington against the Nationals in a game you can watch with your holiday breakfast -- game time is 10:05 a.m. CT. Jason Hammel will face Tanner Roark. As Len Kasper pointed out on the game broadcast Wednesday night, Hammel and Roark enter Friday's game with identical W/L marks and ERAs -- 7-5, 2.98.
Meanwhile, stick around BCB today as we'll have several more features throughout the day.