Lou Piniella, Jim Hendry and possibly the entire Chicago Cubs organization should get out their pens this week and write a thank you note to whoever came up with this season’s schedule. Following the All-Star break, the Cubs opened the second half of the season against the worst team in the majors, the Washington Nationals. It was precisely what the Cubs needed to get them started off on the right foot for the second half of the season.
The Cubs entered the All-Star break as a .500 team (43-43), but thanks to the four-game sweep of the Nationals, the Cubs are 4-0 following the break. The Cubs outscored the Nationals 26-11 in the four games. It’s the kind of momentum the team will need as they head into Philadelphia for their next series.
The Phillies are the defending world champions, and the hottest team in baseball right now. They are 9-1 in their last 10 games, and have won eight straight.
The Cubs are in sole possession of second place in the National League Central division. They are two complete games behind the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals, and they have a one-game edge over the third-place Milwaukee Brewers.
The Cubs’ early second half success may be partially because some of their key players are starting to hit the ball. Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano have finally re-awoken. They are also getting some extra offensive punch from some fill-in players, namely Jake Fox and Sam Fuld.
I’m not ready to bet the farm that the Cubs can repeat as champions of the Central Division, but they at least are back on the right track.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
from the July 22-28, 2009, issue