The thunder storms that poured rain on Wrigley Field was a fitting figurative foreshadow of the runs to come by the Cubs offense. After the rain and lightning show that delayed the game for almost an hour in the middle of the third inning, the home team offense made it rain runs on the Cardinals, putting up a six spot on the board (video courtesy of MLB.com) and not looking back on their way to a 11-4 blowout of their heated rivals.
In that big inning, the Cubs for broke through not once, but twice in bases loaded situations. Aramis Ramirez singled in the first run for his 15th RBI of the season, and Carlos Pena hit only his second double of the 2011 campaign to drive in two more. Starlin Castro broke out of his slump with a single to drive in both Ramirez and Pena, and Alfonso Soriano finished off the scoring in the frame with a single to bring in Castro. The Cubs batted around, with pitcher Matt Garza striking out to start and end the inning.
Speaking of Garza, the starting pitcher pretty much cruised in his appearance despite having to wait out the rain delay. Normally you do not see the pitcher who was on the mound prior to the rain delay come back to proceed with his start, but Garza did not skip a beat before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 5th. He had a beautiful box score line of one run allowed on only three hits with seven strikeouts in his five innings of work to collect his second win as a Cub. The only blemish was the three walks he issued, but he did not allow any of those walks to come all the way around to score.
The offense made it rain again in the 5th inning. Castro hit a triple to cash in the lead off single by Pena, and Soriano drove in Castro for the second time on the night with a single before scoring himself on a triple by Koyie Hill (video courtesy of MLB.com). Yes you read that right. Koyie Hill! In fact the Cubs catcher doubled his season output of hits last night alone, going 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs, the previously mentioned triple, and a double out of the eight spot in the order. The veteran back up is well known for not having much offense in his bat, but he definitely made a case to be the starting catcher while Geo Soto is out, at least for one night.
It should also be noted that Castro finished with a perfect 4 for 4 night with three runs and three RBIs to bust out of his recent slump. I still strongly believe that the slump was brought on by the batting line up musical chairs the young short stop was put through, with his time in the three hole being the biggest culprit of his struggles. The normally patient hitter was starting to chase pitches out of the zone and being overly aggressive. I think it was because the kid knew the team’s struggles to produce RBIs from that spot in the order, and that he was trying to force the issue. For the next several weeks I would love to see him kept in the bottom half of the order just to ease the pressure off him and let him get back to what made him successful thus far.
The bottom of the order was responsible for 9 RBIs. Pena went 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs and 2 runs to bump his average up to .228. While that batting average is not pretty to look at, considering he was hitting a measly .167 at the start of May, it is refreshing to see. In fact Pena is currently on a four game hitting streak, during which he has collected eight hits. The Cubs as a team pounded out 17 hits as every starting position player in the line up joined in on the hit parade. Here we are in the second week of May and Kosuke Fukudome continues to hit out of the lead off spot, going 2 for 4 last night. To go along with my belief of keeping Castro in the bottom of the order for now, if Fukudome can keep hitting from the top spot, it will justify keeping the Japanese right fielder as the lead off hitter and go hand in hand with keeping Castro in a less pressure spot in the order.
The Cubs fans that braved the weather and the delay were treated to a nice blow out win over the hated Cardinals. And instead of Steve Goodman’s “Go Cubs Go”, it would have been just as fitting to blast Lil Wayne’s “Make It Rain” (video courtesy of YouTube) as the post game victory song.