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On the Homefront 2008 - Week 5
by Derek Smart
An odd combination of exhilaration and searing pain this week. Let's relive some glory and pick some scabs.
Game 26 Opponent: Milwaukee Result: Loss Score: 10-7 Big Play: Mike Cameron's seventh-inning, two-out, two-RBI single. The Brewers were already ahead, but that was the blow that essentially put the game out of reach on a night when no one seemed able to pitch. Big Player: Cameron again. 3 for 5 with a walk, two RBI and two runs scored. His presence was the spark that got the Brewers' offense to ignite. We'll talk about this game next year because: It will be nail n, where n + x = Total nails needed to seal Jason Marquis' coffin.
Game 27 Opponent: Milwaukee Result: Win Score: 19-5 Big Play: Geovany Soto's first inning, three-run homer capped the six run inning that finished the game almost before it started. Big Player: All Geo. Two three-run homers will get you some love any day of the week, even when your six RBI account for less than a third of the offense. We'll talk about this game next year because: Who doesn't like to talk about being on the good side of a rout?
Game 28 Opponent: Milwaukee Result: Loss Score: 4-3 Big Play - Micro Version: Alfonso Soriano's misplay that became Gabe Kapler's ninth inning double that kicked open the door Kerry Wood had already left slightly ajar by plunking Craig Counsel. Big Play - Macro Version: The fifth inning defensive play where, as we all found out after the game, Yovani Gallardo blew out his ACL. Big Player: Ryan Braun, who was 3 for 5 with a homer, a double, and three RBI, the double being the hit that gave them their final lead. We'll talk about this game next year because: The Cubs may have lost the game - and in dramatic, disappointing fashion - but the Brewers lost one of their best starting pitchers for the rest of the year. As painful as the loss was, I'll take the Cubs' side of the bargain.
Game 29 Opponent: St. Louis Result: Loss Score: 5-3 Big Play: When Rich Hill was deservedly yanked after recording only two outs in the bottom of the first, the course of the game was set. Although the Cubs came close to winning, once the game went into extras, and the need to deploy Chad Fox arose, the loss became all but inevitable. Big Player: Hit a game winning homer in extras, you're the player of the game. I think that's the rule I learned first in Weekly Recap 101, so Skip Schumaker, this one's yours. We'll talk about this game next year because: It will either mark the beginning of Rich Hill's return to usefulness via a vigorous search through the cornfields of Iowa, resulting in the eventual relocation of his Ding-A-Ling, or whatever it is he's lost, or it will be the start of Jon Lieber's permanent return to the rotation. Perhaps both, depending on what x equals.
Game 30 Opponent: St. Louis Result: Win Score: 9-3 Big Play: Mike Fontenot hit the first homer of the year off of Kyle Lohse, a three-run job, giving the Cubs a 6-0 lead that they would never relinquish. Big Player: Little Mikey Hottentot, hoppin' through the forest, scoopin' up the Cardinals, and boppin' 'em on the head. We'll talk about this game next year because: After his third solid start in a row, it was the day we could finally breathe easy about Ted Lilly.
Game 31 Opponent: St. Louis Result: Loss Score: 5-3 Big Play: The fourth inning, two-out, two-run double from Albert Pujols that gave the Cardinals the lead for good. Big Player: Adam Kennedy, who got on base every time up, and drove in two runs to boot. It was his walk with two out in the fourth that brought Albert Pujols to the plate. We'll talk about this game next year because: Everyone likes to cry in their beer sometimes.
The Week That Was
Those RS/RA figures are incredibly deceiving, considering the distribution of the Cubs' scoring this week. The Cubs outscored their opponents 28-8 in their two victories, and were outscored 24-16 in their four losses. Depending on your outlook, it can either be a source of profound frustration, or a silver lining, that the Cubs really only seemed to be out of Game 26, and even that one had some suspense. In every loss this week you could make a case that a play here and there would have altered the outcome, and while it may make the results hard to take, the fact that the margins were so slim should be taken as a hopeful sign of an impending turnaround.