No doubt about it - the Cubs have been through quite a rough stretch lately. Losing two out of three in St. Louis, and repeating that effort (or lack thereof) in Cincinnati, with Wednesday's 9-0 shellacking the crowning insult. Go back to the previous homestand and the Cubs were 3-7 in their last ten games. Ugh! Yesterday's day off couldn't have come at a better time.
And today's pitching (and hitting) performance by Ted Lilly couldn't have come at a better time as well. Seven strong innings, allowing only 3 hits and walking 2, while striking out 10. Gave up only one run, a solo home run to Chris Young in the first inning that I'm sure gave everyone a bad sense of déjà vu all over again from last year's NLDS Game 2 when Young homered off Lilly. Thankfully, Lilly quickly put that behind him today and shut down the D'Backs the rest of the game. Marmol pitched a strong 8th, and turned it over to Woody, who came in, threw 9 pitches (all for strikes), and quickly closed it out for his 6th save.
But were it not for Lilly's hitting prowess, the Cubs could have been on the losing end of a 1-0 score. Instead, Lilly cracked a two out RBI single in the 5th inning - this after Reed Johnson was intentionally walked. Can't fault Arizona manager Bob Melvin here - it's a sound baseball strategy, but it just backfired today. Soriano followed up with an RBI double, and Cubs take the lead, 2-1. Derrek Lee added an insurance run in the 8th with his 9th home run of the year.
Great, great game. Yes, I was outside the whole time, futilely waiting for a street homer, but it sure felt like I was watching it, thanks to the crowd noise and Pat & Dave on the radio. Yes, no Ron Santo today -he had a rough road trip as well and is still a bit under the weather, so Dave Otto filled in for him. Hopefully Ron will be back over the weekend.
With a fairly constant 10-15 mph wind blowing in from left, batting practice was fairly uneventful. Cubs didn't come close and Arizona only connected on two out to Waveland. Slim got the first one, after it bounced off a mail truck. Second one should have been an easy catch for me, but I stumbled coming off the curb and just couldn't get back on track with the ball. Went off my glove and tipped my hat - guess I should be thankful I didn't get a face full of ball. A little kid ran it down and was excited as could be, so all's well that ends well.