[Oak Park native and Wewanthefunk literary role model Ernest Hemingway displaying a big dead marlin]
How bad is the Cubs road record this year? It’s taken 9 straight road wins just to get to .500, which is where the Cubanos sit tonight after a kick in the teeth win over the Marlins, 6-5. Chicago baseball has been making news this week, whether it’s the Cubs’ longest win-streak on the road since 1945, winning their first game in Florida since July 2005, or the 4 back-to-back HRs hit yesterday by the Chicago White Sox (a major league league baseball team). That the Marlins taunted the Cubs with pictures of goats and the 1908 team behind Cub player pictures only seemed to boomerang the hoo doo back onto them.
The game tipped for good in the 9th with a 3-run HR by the .217 slugging Daryle Ward off sad sack Kevin Gregg. The other notable performance was “Big Z” Carlos Zambrano’s 3rd start without a win. Talk about history making days, the post-game locker-room featured a rarely humbled Mr. Z. Fortunately, Cub web site reporter Carrie Muskat was there to witness history:
The right-hander was in line to take the loss after walking five, making a throwing error, hitting a batter and serving up a three-run homer to Jorge Cantu.
Zambrano helped himself in the second, slapping a two-out, RBI single to right to extend his hitting streak to a career-high six games. But the Marlins tied the game in the second on Cody Ross’ RBI double.
In the Florida third, Zambrano walked pitcher Josh Johnson on four pitches, then walked Hanley Ramirez, although he let home-plate umpire Bill Miller know he wasn’t happy with the call. Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild tried to calm down the right-hander. One out later, Cantu launched his 21st homer to left to go ahead, 4-1. One out and another walk later, Josh Willingham hit an RBI triple that center fielder Jim Edmonds couldn’t track down.
Zambrano resumed his conversation with Miller as he left the field after the sixth inning, and continued before his at-bat leading off the seventh. Big Z gave up five runs on four hits and five walks over five innings, striking out six.
When Zambrano was at 84 pitches in the game, he had thrown 44 strikes and 40 balls. That’s not a good ratio.
“I think he’s rushing off the mound, especially off the stretch,” Piniella said. “I don’t think his arm is getting into the right slot. I’m not a pitching coach, but those are the things we talked about. He had good stuff. The last couple starts, he didn’t have his good stuff. Today, he had good stuff, but he was all over the place.”
Zambrano does not have a win in his last three starts.
“We need to get him going the way he can pitch,” Piniella said. “You need to have your ace win baseball games for you.”
Zambrano got some support. DeRosa belted his career-high 14th home run with one on in the Chicago fourth and Kerry Wood picked up his 25th save, and first since coming off the disabled list. The nine straight road wins are the most since the Cubs won 12 in a row away from Wrigley Field July 1-Aug. 3, 1945.
“My teammates were able to win the game, and believe me, I’m happy for the team,” Zambrano said. “There are some things I’m going to have to correct in my mechanics. I have to move forward and keep doing my job.”