Wednesday marked the final home game of the 2011 season for the Cubs. With not much to play for, the Cubs fans that were in attendance were treated to a complete game by Matt Garza. The first year Cub’s 9-10 record well reflects the average season he had, but his 10 strikeout effort provided the home fans a nice little glimpse of what he can be for the Cubs in 2012. With a little more run support and better plays in the field from himself as a defensive player, there is no reason to believe a 15 win season next year is out of the question.
Poor run support was not a concern at Wrigley on Wednesday. The Cubs offense backed Garza with seven runs, highlighted by a two run double by DJ LeMahieu in the fifth inning and a three run homer by Marlon Byrd in the sixth. If the Cubs make good on their youth movement plans, the crowded crop of young outfielders ready to earn a shot in the Majors will push the team to try to deal Byrd in the off season. If that is indeed the case, Byrd gave a nice parting gift to the Cubs fans that embraced him well for the most part during his two seasons on the North Side.
The Starlin Castro 200 hit watch saw the sophomore’s hit total creep up to 199 thanks to a two hit effort. It should give Cubs fans a little more incentive to tune in for Friday’s game and catch the kid reaching the milestone against rival St Louis.
The first two games of the series saw a flip flop of roles in more ways than one. On Monday it was the struggling duo of the Cubs and Casey Coleman that surprised to pull out a victory. Coming off of a couple sub par starts that added to the doubt of whether Coleman can be a serious candidate for the 2012 rotation, the young pitcher put up a solid six inning outing that saw him hold the high powered Brewers offense to just two hits and one run while striking out eight. The three walks are still a bit of a concern for a finesse pitcher, but we will let Coleman have his day in the sun and worry about that later.
Meanwhile on offense, Geo Soto decided to take his frustrations on a personal below average season out on the Brewers, striking not once but twice with two run homers to give his battery mate some run support.
The flop was Tuesday night. Culprit number one was Randy Wells, who was roughed up for five runs in the same number of innings. That makes for two bad starts in a row after a stretch of four quality starts had people thinking he still may just be able to prove that his rookie season was not a fluke. Wells will have to earn his spot in the rotation in 2012, but in the long term picture, he does not figure to be more than a back of the rotation starter for a playoff contending team, especially when you consider the rotations teams like the Phillies and Giants are featuring.
So with that the Cubs closed our the home portion of the 2011 season with a series win over border neighbors Milwaukee and prevented the Brewers from clinching the NL Central title on Cubs soil. The irony is that their winning efforts have allowed the Cardinals to mathematically stay in the hunt for the division crown, but our boys will have a chance to be fair spoilers and do the same to St Louis in Busch Stadium this weekend.
Goodbye to our summer home Wrigley Field. See you in 2012.