Cubs Lift Off from Houston with Series Win


The Cubs escaped Houston with a series win after jumping early on Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez. With the win, the team returned to .500 with a 6-6 record heading into Colorado tomorrow. The offense scored a season high nine runs in an attempt to pay back their hosts for the blow out loss on Tuesday.


In baseball, there is a saying that things tend to sort themselves out when it comes to roster jams. With Kosuke Fukudome nursing a tender hamstring, Tyler Colvin has been getting more playing time in right field. But it is Starlin Castro who appears to be taking the most advantage of the void left by the Japanese import. The sophomore short stop went 8 for 15 leading off in this series, including a 3 for 4 performance yesterday. Castro has hit where ever he has been inserted in the batting order since he came up to the Major Leagues, but he looks pretty comfortable in the lead off role, a position the Cubs need filled if Fukudome follows his MLB career history of fading in and out over the course of a 162 game season. Have the Cubs found an answer to their prayers for the top spot of the order for 2011? Stay tuned.

The other development that may help Castro’s move to lead off hitter is the good start rookie Darwin Barney has gotten off to. The other half of the Cubs home grown double play duo went 2 for 4, including a RBI double after Castro stole second base in the top of the 9th to add an insurance run to what was a slim 6-5 lead at the time. Aramis Ramirez mirrored Castro and went 3 for 5 with a clutch RBI of his own in the 9th inning.

The Cubs failed to jump Brett Myers early on Tuesday, and ended up getting embarrassed. With two outs and two runners on in the first inning yesterday, lefty killer Jeff Baker made sure the Cubs did not make the same mistake twice. His double brought in Ramirez and Marlon Byrd, and helped open the flood gates that ended with Alfonso Soriano hitting a three run homer to put the Astros down five runs before Carlos Zambrano even took the mound. Speaking of Big Z, the pitcher by day slugger at night, who loves hitting at Minute Maid Park, joined the offensive party by knocking a home run of his own in the 6th inning, his first of the season.


As a pitcher Zambrano cruised through the first five innings, with some help from his defense in the bottom of the 2nd frame, while collecting five strikeouts along the way. But Cubs pitcher must have still been amped up from his homer in the top of the inning as he struggled to get out of the bottom of the 6th inning. He first committed the sin of walking the lead off hitter in the frame. A few singles and a home run later, the Cubs six run lead turned into a tight 6-5 ballgame.

Thankfully, manager Mike Quade was able to line up the reliever appearances that Cubs fans should get used to seeing on days the starter can hold up a lead past the 5th inning. Marcos Mateo finished the 6th inning for Zambrano, and then it was the trio of Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood, and closer Carlos Marmol that came in to shut down the Astros for the night. The Cubs offense in the 9th to extend the lead did not hurt either of course.


Soriano and Castro were able to connect on a nice relay throw to nail Brett Wallace out at home in the 2nd inning. The Cubs did not commit an error.