The "Cubbie swagger" Lou Piniella alluded to in spring training finally has arrived, though it's not the kind of in-your-face strutting one might expect from the hottest team in baseball.I hope they make the playoffs and they have another good run like they did in 2003. No matter happened back then, it was still a good run that I remember fondly.
The Cubs are winning games quietly without drawing much attention to themselves, preferring to let their play speak for itself. They go into every game with a confidence that's growing at an exponential rate.
"You start winning baseball games, and you expect to win them," Piniella said before the Cubs pounded St. Louis 7-1 Wednesday night at Busch Stadium. "That's the important thing."
The Cubs moved to within two games of first-place Milwaukee and are seven games ahead of the third-place Cardinals, who appear to be running on fumes.
"I definitely think there's some confidence, but we're also aware it's not going to fall in our lap," winning pitcher Ted Lilly said. "That comes from respecting the opposition, being aware there are a lot of good teams out there. Every day we're going to have to earn every win."
Lilly (11-4) pitched seven strong innings to earn his seventh straight victory, becoming the first Cubs left-hander to do so since Ken Holtzman won eight in a row in 1969, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"I'm not counting," Lilly said. "My first focus is to keep us in the game."
Lilly is also the first Cubs left-hander to win 11 games before the 100th game of the season since Holtzman did it in '69. He is 5-0 in July with a 1.83 earned-run average, allowing only one run in four of his last five starts.
The Cubs offense also awoke from its recent catnap, knocking out six extra base hits (though no home runs) after a stretch of 16 consecutive singles ended with Alfonso Soriano's fifth-inning triple.
Soriano, Ryan Theriot, Aramis Ramirez, Cliff Floyd, Mike Fontenot and Jacque Jones all had multi-hit games, as the Cubs pounded 14 hits off of Adam Wainwright (9-8) and the Cardinals bullpen.
The Cubs scored five of their runs with two outs, continuing a recent trend.
"You get two-out hitting, and it's a little bit of a demoralizer," Piniella said.
The Cubs went 17-11 in June and are 14-6 in July, assuring themselves back-to-back winning months for the first time since April-June of 2005, when they went 12-11, 14-13 and 14-13.
In other Cubs news Steve Stone is returning to Chicago, but it won't be doing the call for the Chicago Cubs...
The White Sox will make an intriguing call to the bullpen.The current broadcast team for the Cubs seem a bit bland and it was unfortunate that Tribune let go of Chip Caray and Steve Stone. They definitely had some personality. Before 2004, both the White Sox and the Cubs could boast broadcast teams with personality. I've always been a fan of Ken Harrelson.
With TV analyst Darrin Jackson set to miss games in early August for the birth of his child, the Sox will summon that old right-hander, Steve Stone, to partner with Hawk Harrelson.
"It's very exciting to get the chance to call baseball games again," Stone said. "I thought my career had ended when high-def came in."
Stone called games for ESPN last season but this year has been mainly limited to appearances on WSCR-AM 670.
With Jackson's wife, Robin, due around Aug. 6, Stone will likely work the Sox's six-game homestand from Aug. 7-12. And if the Sox don't pick up radio analyst Chris Singleton's option, Stone could replace him next season.