Posted on: September 23, 2008 6:51 am

Cubs Clinch Homefield Advantage for NLCS

Cubs Clinch Home-Field on Marquis' Pitching/Bat

Flushing, New York

Monday's win at New York's Shea Stadium gaurantees the Cubs (95-60) will have home-field advantage for the NLDS and the NLCS if they are lucky enough to make it there.  That is great news for a team that finished with 55 home wins to 26 losses.

Chicago got things started in the top half of the 2nd when Mark De Rosa doubled with 2 outs.  One batter later, Reed Johnson drove him home on a base hit.  With the Cubs leading 1-0, things got shaky in the bottom of the inning when Carlos Delgado was able to score on a wild pitch that Geovany Soto didn't know where it went.  One inning later, with the game tied at 1 in the bottom half of the 3rd, New York capitalized off back to back doubles by Jose Reyes and Daniel Murphy that gave the Metropolitans a 2-1 lead. 

However, Chicago would come roaring back.  Geovany Soto quickly got a 4th inning rally started with a double to left.  Soto would advance to third on De Rosa's single, and would later score when Reed Johnson came up and hit a single to center.  Ryan Theriot would single to load the bases for Cubs starting pitcher Jason Marquis.  Marquis proceeded to hit the first pitch he saw over the right field wall for a grand slam.  That would be all for Jonathon Neise as he let 5 guys reach and 5 guys score in the inning while not retiring anyone. 

The Cubs would add three more runs to build their lead but the Mets scored twice on a David Wright home run in the bottom half of the 7th.  The Mets would actually get the tying run to the plate in the 9th inning as Carlos Beltran hit into a fielders choice that scored David Wright.  With two out, Ryan Church drew a walk, but Kerry Wood was called upon and he got Luis Castillo to strike out looking giving the Cubs the win 9-5.  Wood picked up his 33rd save in 39 tries. 

Player of the Game

Jason Marquis improved to 11-9 after pitching 6 2/3 innings allowing 4 Earned Runs on 8 hits while striking out 4 and walking 4.  Yet that is just half of it.  In the Cubs' 4th he hit a Grand Slam off Neise, and added another RBI in the 5th on a groundout.  Marquis was the first Cubs pitcher since Milt Pappas to drive in five runs.  Pappas accomplished the feat back in 1972 against the Mets at Wrigley, the same year that he threw his no-hitter which was the last one until Carlos Zambrano threw his 9 days ago. 

Rooting for a Rival

The idle Milwaukee Brewers were happy to see their nemesis win because they were trailing the Mets by 1 1/2 games in the Wild Card standings.  Milwaukee is now just a game back as they prepare for a three game set against the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Many Brewers fans find themselves having no choice but to pull for Chicago to win, but will then be hoping to beat the Cubs when they head up to "Wrigley North" for a weekend series.  Chicago had previously swept a four game series at the end of July up at Miller Park that pushed Milwaukee from 1/2 game back to 4 1/2 games back in the National League Central Standings. 

 Greatest Show's Blog

Game stats Courtesy of http://www.sportsline.com/mlb/gamec

Posted on: September 21, 2008 4:47 am

Chicago Cubs 2008 N.L. Central division Champions

It's Offical!!  The Chicago Cubs have clinched the 2008 National League Central Division for the third time in 6 seasons. 

The Cubs defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 5-4 at Wrigley Field infront of 41,597 fans.  The Cubs started the scoring by getting 3 runs off of Joel Pineiro on an Alfonso Soriano 2-run single in the 2nd inning.  Brian Barton let the ball get by him and roll all the way to the wall, allowing a third run to score.  The Cubs would add two more runs in the bottom of the 4th on a Mark De Rosa double and a Ted Lilly suicide squeeze play giving them a 5-0 lead.  However, it wouldn't be a typical Cubs versus Cardinals game without the trailing team battling back.  In the St. Louis 6th, the Cardinals scored four runs with two outs on a Felipe Lopez RBI single and a Troy Glaus 3-Run homerun.  The game would continue 5-4 to the 9th inning giving Kerry Wood the chance to nail it down.  Wood would give up a leadoff walk to Glaus, but quickly retired the next three batters giving the Cubs the division title.  Wood picked up his 32nd save in 39 tries.  Ted Lilly improved to 16-9 with his 7 inning 4 earned run performance. 

September 20, 2008 would be the earliest a Cubs team has clinched a playoff spot since the 1932 Cubs.  The 1932 team ended up making it to the World Series, but lost to the New York Yankees

I find it appropriate that the Cubs clinched on September 20.  It gives Cubs fans a chance to see their team clinch at their field.  In 2003 and 2007 they had clinched the division on the road.  More Importantly it also comes 24 years to the day of the passing of Steve Goodman. 

For those of you that don't know who Steve Goodman is, he is the creator of the infamous song "Go Cubs Go" that you hear played at Wrigley after Cubs victories. 

Steve Goodman was born July 25, 1948 on Chicago's North Side.  He was a folk music singer/songwriter, but also a huge Cubs fan.  He was diagnosed with lukemia in early 1969.  Goodman wrote many songs on the Cubs, and the city of Chicago including "Go Cubs Go", "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request", "The Lincoln Park Pirates", and "Daley's Gone". 

On September 20, 1984, Goodman would lose his battle with lukemia dying at the age of 36.  Four days later the Chicago Cubs would clinch the National League East earning them their first postseason birth since 1945.  Goodman was asked to sing The National Anthem before the Cubs first playoff game, but he was replaced by Jimmy Buffett, whom dedicated the song to Goodman.  I know Steve Goodman is watching his Cubs down from heaven, and he is in good company with Jack Brickhouse and Harry Caray. 


Posted on: September 20, 2008 7:35 am

Brant Brown's 10 Year Anniversary

September 23, 2008 will officially mark the 10th anniversary of the infamous E-7 that almost gave Cubs radio announcer Ron Santo a heart attack.  The Cubs traveled to Milwaukee on the 22nd of September for a short two game series at Milwaukee County Stadium.  The Cubs had won the first game 5-2 backed by Terry Mulholland's 8 inning 1 earned run performance.  It was Mulholland's 6th win of the season.  The win had brought the Cubs even with the New York Mets for the Wild Card, as the Montreal Expos had defeated the Mets 5-3.  Now that the Cubs were tied with the Mets with 4 games remaining, it was essential that Chicago kept winning. 

Game number 159 would feature Steve Trachsel of Chicago facing off against southpaw Rafael Roque.  The game was scoreless going into the second inning when the Cubs scored twice without even recoding a base hit.  Walks issued to Gary Gaetti, Steve Trachsel, Lance Johnson, and Jose Hernandez led to the first tally for the Cubs.  With Mark Grace batting, a balk was issued against Roque, and Trachsel was able to score from third base.  Grace would end the inning by looking at called strike three.  Cubs 2-0.

The Cubs would add 5 more runs throughout the next four innings.  Sammy Sosa hit his 64th and 65th home runs of the season in consecutive innings.  Steve Trachsel had only given up 2 hits through 6 innings as the Cubs lead 7-0.

Going into the bottom of the 7th inning with the 4-5-6 hitters coming up for Milwaukee things got out of control very quickly.  Jeromy Buritz and Marquis Grissom each singled, and Geoff Jenkins walked.  The bags were loaded for Jose Valentin who doubled off of Trachsel to score 2 runs.  Bobby Hughes would hit a sacrafice fly, and pinch hitter Brian Banks would single to center to score one more.  Trachsel would be yanked for Felix Heridia, whom faced only one batter until he was pulled for Matt Karchner.  The Brewers would score 4 total in the inning and trimmed the lead to 3.  Cubs lead 7-4. 

The Cubs would go easy in the top of the 8th, with only Sosa reaching base by means of intentional walk.  Milwaukee would plate one run in the bottom of the 8th on a Bob Hamelin run scoring single off of Karchner.  Cubs lead 7-5. 

With Rod Beck warming up in the bullpen in the top of the 9th, the Cubs would have no luck adding insurance runs in their half of the inning.  Two strikeouts and a groundout would strand Scott Servais on base.  Rod Beck would come in and face the top of the order.  Fernando Vina would quickly ground out.  Mark Loretta singled to left, and Jeff Cirillo would double down the left field line.  With runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out, the Cubs gave the intentional pass to Jeromy Burnitz, loading the bases.  Marquis Grissom would come up and foul out to third baseman Gary Gaetti.  There were now 2 out and the Cubs were clinging to a 7-5 lead.  Geoff Jenkins would come up to the plate and hit a routine fly ball to left fielder Brant Brown.  What would happen next would make Cubs fans hearts break.  It would make a Cubs commentator moan in disbelief.  Brant Brown would drop the fly ball, scoring 3 runs for the Brewers giving them the win 8-7.  Brown was credited with an E-7.  In the eyes of Cubs fans, Brown's career would be tarnished forever.

The Cubs had a chance to gain a game lead on the New York Mets, and put the San Francisco Giants 2 games behind with 3 games remaining.  Although Chicago would end up making the postseason due to the victory over the Giants in the 163rd game, it took help from the Colorado Rockies to force that game.  The Cubs lost their last game of the season 4-3 in 11 innings at Houston, and the Rockies beat the Giants 8-7 in a come from behind victory.  The Mets dropped out of the picture  by losing their last 5 games.  The task was simple for Brant Brown, catch the ball and the Cubs would have never been in a position of hoping for the Giants to be beat in their final game

I was at both games of this short series.  The first game was a dominant win for the Cubs, and the second was a pure Cubs disaster.  A moment I'll never forget or be able to get rid of.  A seven run lead turned into an 8-7 loss.  Nothing is ever over until it says final on the scoreboard.

To read more on Brant Brown's career refer to the following link. 


Game stats and box score courtesy of http://www.baseball-reference.com/b

Posted on: September 19, 2008 6:02 am
Edited on: September 19, 2008 6:03 am

Salomon Torres' Reality Check means magic # 2

Let's go back to September 9, 2008, a week before the Brewers traveled to Chicago for a very important 3 game series.  Milwaukee was just 4 1/2 games behind the Cubs, yet maintained a 3 game lead over the Phillies for the Wild Card.  After blowing a save and picking up the loss in a 5-4 defeat against the Cincinnatti Reds, Torres opened up to the media and made the following comments.

"They are in the rearview mirror," Torres said of the Phillies, who entered Tuesday three games back of the Brewers. "If they were ahead, that's a different story. But we've still got the lead, so we cannot act like we are behind them. They need to worry, not us. And the Chicago Cubs, they need to worry, because we're going to get them. That's all I can say."  - (Source MLB.com 09/09/2008 8:27 PM ET)

Now its September 18, 2008.  Milwaukee has fallen 8 games behind Chicago for the N.L. Central, and more importantly for them a 1/2 game behind the New York Mets for the Wild Card, as Philadelphia took the lead in the N.L. East standings.  Salomon Torres enters Thursday's game with a Brewers 6-2 lead in the bottom of the 9th.  After quickly retiring Ryan Theriot and Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez doubled to center.  Jim Edmonds would single, scoring Ramirez, and Mark De Rosa would also single.  Suddenly the tying run would come to the plate.  On the first pitch that Geovany Soto saw, he smacked a high fastball into the left center bleachers for a 3 run homer, tying the game at 6. 

Chicago would end up winning the game 7-6 in 12 innings on Derrek Lee's walk off single that scored Jason Marquis who was pinch running for Daryle Ward.  I wonder what Salomon Torres was thinking when Soto was rounding the bases on his game-tying home run?  Did he remember his bold statements a week and a half earlier?  Not a very good week for Torres.  Instead of taking 2 of 3 from the Cubs, Milwaukee has now dropped 13 of 17 and are 1 1/2 games behind the Mets for the Wild Card.  I wonder if Torres will come out and make any more bold predictions, this time involving the Mets?

 For Chicago, Thursday's win means that with 11 games remaining, any combination of 2 Cubs wins or Brewers losses will result in the Cubs clinching the division for the second straight year.  Chicago hasn't finished in first place in consecutive seasons since 1907-08, when they last won the World Series.  Cubs fans can rest easy knowing that more than likely the last series in Milwaukee won't mean much for the Cubs, but could be do or die for the Brewers. 


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com