Sunday, May 31, 2009

Finding their rhythm

As I write this Sunday night, the Cubs are losing early 6-0, but I'm going to ignore that and say their crisp 7-0 victory of the Dodgers on Saturday afternoon was a great demonstration of a team finding their rhythm.

The Cubs scored 7 runs on 10 hits, scoring on singles, extra base hits, walks, and one homer by Reed Johnson. They did waste a couple of baserunners, and probably should have had more like 10 runs, but they used patience and textbook contact hitting to get other runners home. Ryan Dempster pitched 7 shutout innings and the bullpen was airtight--and don't forget this game was against the best team in the MLB right now.

Milton Bradley was 3-4 for his biggest hit output as a Cub thus far in Wrigley. Johnson continued is hot hitting with a 3-3 outing, and Mike Fontenot continued working his way back from a slump with a 2-3 effort, including a run-scoring doubel and triple. The more even hitting throughout the line-up, combined with ongoing great pitching from the starters looks to me like a sign of good things to come.

The White Sox have been finding their own rhythm, winning with 9th inning runs both Saturday and Sunday against Kansas City, and finishing their first series sweep in ages. Saturday's 5-3 win came after Mark Buerhle pitched quite well, but just not well enough to survive the 8th inning, before the real action began. Old-is-new-again lead-off man Scott Podsednik singled home a run to break a 3-3 tie and Alexei Ramirez added an insurance run on a follow-up single.

Pods factored in another 9th inning rally Sunday as the Sox this time picked up 3 runs in the 9th to break a 4-4 tie, eventually winning 7-4. This time, Chris Getz single in 2 runs and Pods singled home the final insurance run. Bobby Jenks saved both games.

The real story with Sunday's game, however, was that the Sox beat--and beat up on--Zack Greinke, who has been beating everyone this year while giving up less than a run per 9 innings. The Sox scored 4 runs, 3 earned, off of him Sunday by twice getting 2-0ut run-scoring hits, and general pushing Greinke deep into counts. Pretty impressive stuff against the A.L.'s best pitcher this year.

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