It’s about time.
After being held to just 31 runs in the last 11 games, the Cubs touched up Milwaukee’s lefty Randy Wolf for eight runs before he was chased in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s Cubs’ 9-4 win over the Brewers.
Derrek Lee led the offensive charge for the team, blasting his first homerun since May 25 and the 300th of his career. Hopefully, getting this milestone homerun off of his back will get the struggling first baseman going again: he had entered the day with just a .237 average.
Other than Lee, two more Cubs who have been cooled since the first month of the season continued to heat up again. In the month of May, Marlon Byrd had a .257 average and Geovany Soto hit .200, but both hit two homeruns each on Wednesday. Byrd now has 13 hits — including seven extra-base hits — in his last six games, and Soto raised his average on the current road trip to .357.
This game also served to get Carlos Zambrano back on the winning track. Making his second start since re-joining the rotation, Zambrano fired 88 pitches in five innings and won his first game in nearly two months.
In other news, the Cub that has been struggling most of all was placed on the disabled list. After hitting just .168 and sitting out many games in the first third of the season, Aramis Ramirez finally went on the shelf and Chad Tracy was recalled. Tracy, who was optioned to Iowa (AAA) to make room for Starlin Castro, has been tearing the cover off of the ball. He’s been hitting .396 with 8 doubles and 5 homers in just 26 games with Iowa.
The decision to deactive Ramirez came late; the Cubs have had a habit of waiting too long to put injured players on the disabled list over the past few years. Ramirez was clearly hurting and wasn’t helping the team, but the Cubs were being stubborn by trying to let Ramirez fight through his injury. As it turned out, he missed nine games in the last month anyway, wasn’t helpful to the team, and was clogging up a roster spot. Hopefully, he’ll take all the time he needs to recover fully and return as the Ramirez of old, since there are three very competent players ready to hold down the fort at the hot corner until he does.
All of this indicates that we could be at a potential turning point for the team, but the Cubs haven’t been able to capitalize on similar chances earlier in the year. It’ll be an uphill battle to erase Cincinnati’s 6 1/2 game lead in the division, but taking the rubber game on Thursday would be a good start. The Cubs have the right man for the job: Ryan Dempster is 13-3 with a 2.80 ERA in his career against the Brewers.
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Written by Eddie Kim