Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cubs Take out the Brooms

To be honest I expected the Cubs to walk into Washington and lose 3 of 4. The whole series just screamed letdown. Obviously I was very wrong, yet I feel no better now than I did before the series began.

Don't get me wrong, anytime you can sweep a 4-game series that is a very good thing, especially on the road. I just don't know how much can be taken from beating a Washington team that seems to be way too willing to beat itself. The upcoming series in Philly will be crucial. The first half Cubs would get swept out of Philly in ugly fashion. If this is going to be a different team in the second half they need to win at least one game, and in a perfect world win two of three. Let's worry about that tomorrow though.

Kevin Hart isn't very good, but I'll give him credit for being able to work out of many different situations he puts himself in. Walking a guy an inning won't get anybody a regular spot in a starting rotation, and if Hart is going to keep starting while Dempster sits on the DL he has to throw more strikes. I will give Jeff Samardzija credit, he pitched three solid innings only allowing a solo homer to Adam Dunn. Jeff Stevens finished off the ninth and no major bullpen arms had to be used.

The hitting was especially encouraging. Two guys who have been just awful most of the season played big roles in the last two wins. Mike Fontenot and Alfonso Soriano both drove runs in today, and both appear to be getting into hot streaks. Soriano's hot streak is much more important long-term for the Cubs, but don't discount Fontenot helping. Each of the last two seasons Fontenot has gone on a two-week binge of hot hitting that ended up stealing the team a few wins. Just don't let him face a lefty.

Back to Soriano for a moment. I know I sound like a broken record and that I've written probably 100 times the last month, but I'm saying it again. For this team to make the playoffs, for this team to have any success in the playoffs, Alfonso Soriano needs to be hitting. The past two games he has homered and looked much better at the plate. His homer Saturday night won the game, and I think we are going to see a hot hitting Soriano most of the season. Just like when Aramis went out for a long period of time, Soriano missing from the lineup is equally devastating. Thankfully he has been healthy this season, and here's to hoping his bat carries the team back into the playoffs. 

Jake Fox had a monster game today as well, hitting another homer and driving in four runs. Fox has made the most of his chance in the majors, looking back its clear the Cubs should have had him working at third the second Aramis went down. The entire organization messed that up, but we have another chance to get Fox in the lineup. Koyie Hill is going to be exhausted pretty soon, and I think its time that Lou finds out if Fox can handle catching for an entire game. His bat is certainly better than Hill's and against a team like Philly that is going to put runs on the board, having another slugger can't hurt.

Onto the City of Brotherly Love, where the Cubs can hopefully turn the Phillies fans against their team. The Cubs get lucky and miss both Cole Hamels and JA Happ, but Jamie Moyer will surely toss a shutout, and I can't imagine Rich Harden is capable of keeping all those Philly sluggers in the ballpark. 

Until tomorrow night, enjoy the sweep and enjoy sitting in second place. 

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