Randy Wells and the Cubs fell behind Milwaukee 3-0 by the end of the 4th inning and with Yovani Gallardo overwhelming the Cubs offense, things were looking bleak. Geo Soto was the only Cub in the line up who had homered off of the Brewers young pitching star in the past, and the Cubs catcher was able to whip his bat head around a high strike fastball and line it into the left field bleachers for his fifth home run of the season, finally putting the Cubs on the board in the 7th inning. Gallardo finished the inning and ended the night with 10 strikeouts while only allowing three hits.
Rodrigo Lopez relieved Wells to start the top of the 7th inning and worked his way around a lead off walk to Prince Fielder and a single, thanks to a double play started by Aramis Ramirez. But Lopez was not able to avoid damage from the dreaded lead off walk in the top of the 8th inning. It was actually reliever Chris Carpenter that allowed the inherited runner to score, but the point is you cannot allow lead of walks, much less walks in general. And just like that the Cubs gave back the run they had just gotten the half inning before on Soto’s homer.
The Cubs offense must have gotten a second wind when they saw Gallardo replaced by a reliever to start the bottom of the 8th inning. Kosuke Fukudome launched a fly ball that carried over the Brewers outfielders and bounced up to wedge between the ivy covered wall and basket for a ground rule double. Starlin Castro followed with a double into the left center gap that allowed Fukudome to trot home, and Ramirez continued the pounding of Marco Estrada’s pitches by driving a low strike fastball, just where he likes it, into the left field bleacher bums for the game tying two run homer.
Is the Ramirez of old on his way back? His long ball last night was only his fifth of the season, but his third in the past week alone. Ramirez also made a couple solid plays at third base on defense, another aspect of his game that had been in decline in the past year. It should also be noted that Ramirez was inserted into the three spot in the line up for the first time this season. Although he has been more comfortable out of the clean up spot in years past, this is actually a good move on manager Mike Quade’s part. After getting torn to pieces over the bad decisions he has made so far this season, it is only fair that he get credit when credit is due.
Out of all the bats available on the current roster, Ramirez is the best run producer even if he is struggling to match the production numbers we have seen out of him in the past. But more importantly, it bumps youngster Castro out of the three hole and back into the two spot, where he looked very comfortable on Tuesday night. Now Quade’s hand was probably forced due to Darwin Barney going on the disabled list, but I think we will see that at this point in his career, Castro is best suited in a spot other than hitting third in the line up.
Getting back to the game notes, the Cubs bullpen was solid after Lopez’s appearance. Chris Carpenter made his Major League debut and was able to clean up Lopez’s mess despite allowing the inherited runner to score. Carlos Marmol and Jeff Samardzija held down the Brewers in the 9th and 10th innings respectively and set the Cubs offense up to provide the walk off heroics.
Tony Campana provided the spark with a hustle double that barely got into the bullpen down the left field line. His speed allowed him to beat the play at second base after Ryan Braun cut the ball off well and made a solid throw. Fukudome executed a good bunt to move Campana to third. The Brewers manager brought Braun in from left field to set up a five man infield, but Castro took the first Tim Dillard offering to the opposite field over the heads of all the visiting team fielders for the game winning single.
It was good to see the Cubs players pumped up from the walk off win. With where their record currently stands it would be easy for any human to just walk through the motions, but the true joy the players showed after the game last night shows that they still care. It was also good to see Castro going the other way on two of his team high three hits on the game. The Cubs won their second straight one run ballgame and are surprisingly 9-9 in one run games, considering their overall poor record. The victory took Samardzija’s record to 5-2 and he is currently tied for the staff lead in wins with Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano.
The Cubs have another crack at getting their first three game winning streak of the season tonight. They are the only team left in MLB that has not completed the common feat.