Cubs-Pirates: Just Come on Home, Boys

Damen JacksonCorrespondent ISeptember 10, 2009

Filed: September 9th, 2009

Source: Cubbie Nation

I consider the Pittsburgh Pirates a balm. A cure-all, really. Whatever is wrong with your team, sprinkle in a series with the Pirates, and apply liberally.

Need a little offense? Try that pitching staff, with their 4.63 ERA, good for 14th in the NL.

Want to give your bullpen a rest? Your starters are practically sure to go long against an offense ranked 13th.

Hoping for a few lucky breaks to go your way? Hey man, with the worst fielding percentage in the league, you will get good bounces against that team.

As it turns out, the Cubs needed all of the above, and found it in Pittsburgh, beating the Pirates 8-5 Wednesday afternoon to finish off the three-game sweep.

Now, as far as the game itself, you'd be hard pressed to find fault with the Cubs. Carlos Zambrano was effective, limiting the Pirates to a pair over six innings. You'll hear some controversy over an animated discussion he had with Lou Piniella after getting yanked in the seventh, but it seems awfully overblown.

The bench was productive, with Micah Hoffpauir, Bobby Scales, and Mike Fontenot going a combined 5-10 (3 walks), including a Hoffpauir homer in the fifth off of ex-Cub Kevin Hart.

Really, the only downside was another bad outing from Kevin Gregg, who would surrender a three-run homer to Ronny Cedeno to make the end needlessly interesting. Carlos Marmol would be forced to come on in the ninth to pick up the save.

Thanks, Kevin.

But honestly, given the Cubs 22-6 record against the Pirates over the last two seasons, not even the sweep is enough to make up for what's been a disappointing end to a disappointing season.

Beating them is becoming a bit like kissing your hand, and it still doesn't fix the debacle in New York.

And so, after a 4-2 road trip, the Cubs will take the day off Thursday, then play the next-to-last home series of the year, a seven-game stretch against the Reds and Brewers.

Oh, and be a half-game worse in the Wild Card standing than when they left. All can say is, let's get this over with.

I mean, when you're giving extended at-bats to Micah Hoffpauir and Bobby Scales in September, and your manager is dropping lines like "This season is slip-sliding away from us," you've given up; and most likely, many of the players have, too.

If that's the case, there's not much left to do but hope the players finish out the season with as must dignity as they can muster, and let your postseason dreams die in whatever way you think best.

Oh, and get ready for a Bears playoff run.

I'll see you at Wrigley. Maybe we'll yet see that good, long winning streak that we've all been hoping for. And if not, at least the NFL kicks off this weekend.