When the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates squared off for a three game set this past weekend, it was probably the highlight for a great many fans.
When I write things like that, I’m most likely being sarcastic, blatantly lying, or been over served during a Bears game. Enjoy trying to choose which of the three it is.
For the greater part of my life, Cubs v. Pirates is a matchup that has never really stirred my juices. The Pirates have been garbage since the 90’s. They continued to be garbage at the turn of the century. But, even with their trash-heap of play, there were years when the Cubs would struggle to collect two wins against over the course of a season.
Now, we of course have the garbage collecting on our side. It’s piling up in the loss column. My mind has more or less checked out from Cubs news and/or happenings. The month of September continues to cruise on, with the light at the end of the tunnel coming in the form of however the final out of the 2012 season is recorded.
They finish at home against the Houston Astros, so there will be a bottom of the ninth, if necessary. Oh cruel rules of the game. Let’s hope it ends with a win. Not for the win, but to avoid any continual anguish.
Anyways, whether you believe it or not, the Cubs swept the Pirates this weekend. Included was a 10-run margin of victory on Friday before two close games rounded it out.
Friday had some interesting nuggets involved:
- Travis Wood won his first game since July 6th
- Starlin Castro collected his 500th hit
- Cubs snapped a six game losing streak
Brett Jackson showed his desire to remain at the Major League level by chasing a fly ball into the wall. Despite the Cubs’ elimination only a few days prior (May?), it’s nice to see flashes of play as if something meaningful were on the line.
For Jackson, it very well could be his future.
“That’s the type of player I am,” Jackson said postgame to www.cubs.com. “I’ve always been that way – I’ll go through a wall for the team. That was a big moment for Travis and us. We’d lost six in a row and seven runs didn’t seem like it was enough at the time. We were going to win that game today.”
Also contributing to the Cubs’ offensive outburst and eventual win was the Pirates lack of defense. Committing seven errors total, the Cubs were able to bat around in the sixth and seventh inning.
Speaking of errors, or lack thereof (segue!), Darwin Barney played his 123rd straight game without recording an error, tying Ryne Sandberg for the NL record. The Major League record is 141 games set by Placido Polanco in 2007 while playing with the Detroit Tigers.
Saturday was the moment Jeff Samardzija made his case for Ace and 2013 Opening Day starter. He struck out nine Pirates, allowing two earned runs on four hits en route to his first career complete game (and first of season for the team). A second half ERA of under 3.00 and overall record of 9-13 may seem off setting, yet it actually tells the tale of not just Samardzija’s endurance, but the Cubs season as a whole.
Early, lack of support doomed Samardzija from gaining wins, went on a tear in May, but slowed up before the break. Since then, there have been few to rival his performances. At the least, he’s keeping the Cubs in games.
“I knew what I needed to do and I knew I had a lot of question marks around myself coming into the year,” Samardzija told www.cubs.com. “I knew where I was going as a pitcher and the direction I was going, and wanted to keep improving and get that experience late in games. You really want the staff and everyone to know they can trust you and keep giving you the ball.”
It was a good way to finish the season. The Cubs are expected to shut Samardzija down for the remainder of the season. A source indicates his unfamiliarity with starting an entire season. That seems logical. Not to mention they’re 54-86.
For Sunday’s overview, I’ll be brief. Alfonso Soriano continues to tear the cover off the ball and build up some trade value. It’d be a nice swan song for the veteran, if he indeed is gone sooner rather than later. Possibly reaching the 100 RBI mark for the first time since 2005 and showing he still can play, expect more interest than there had been prior to seasons past.
Carlos Marmol earned his 18th save of the season. Terrific. He looked awful doing it. A leadoff single and two walks in the inning loaded the bases. Sure, he buckled down, striking out Gaby Sanchez and getting Pedro Alvarez to fly out. But, I’ll say this: if I see Marmol closing games in a Cubs uniform next season, I’ll never watch a ninth inning again.
Yes, the Cubs broke out the brooms today. It’s nice they were for more than cleaning the dugout.
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