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A Strange Feeling
by Phil Bencomo
When Carlos Zambrano put the Cubs down by four right out of the gate, I'd normally be tempted to sigh heavily and wonder why I put myself through such misery day after day, year after year.
But that didn't happen yesterday, not for me and (thankfully) not for the Cubs.
This club has shown me something over the past week, something I haven't seen in a while from a Cub team: Resilience.
It feels foreign, really. Even earlier in the season, a first inning four-run deficit meant Game Over, Please Try Again Tomorrow. But not yesterday.
Instead, the Cubs came back with three in the third and two in the fourth to take the lead. Zambrano settled down after his now-customary one poor inning per start, and didn't allow another run.
The bullpen, anchored by 2.1 scoreless innings from Bob Howry and Ryan Dempster, took care of the rest. And even if the bullpen hadn't kept the lead, I wouldn't have given up not with the aura exuding from a club now just one game under .500.
Not surprisingly, the Cubs' sudden upswing has coincided with some much needed clutch hitting. Four of the Cubs' six runs yesterday came with two outs. In a little over a week, the Cubs have raised their stats with two outs and runners in scoring position from .213/.293/.303 to .266/.359/.435.
The Cubs' pitching remains excellent (their 3.57 team ERA is fourth in the NL) despite Zambrano's bloated 5.80 ERA, and has been even better over the last week (2.86). And there's more: Cub pitchers have allowed the fewest walks in the league (9) over the last seven days. A very encouraging trend...
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Angel Guzman gets the start tomorrow. I'm expecting big things for two reasons: 1) He'll be pitching to stay in the rotation, and motivation is a powerful thing; and 2) He'll be facing the Nationals. Enough said.