Welcome Back: Cubs Offense Recharged in Soriano's Return

Ricky ButtsCorrespondent IJuly 23, 2008

Everyone knew that the offense would be better when Alfonso Soriano returned.  You probably weren't so sure about how long it would take.  That question got answered really quick.

Now, I know what you are thinking.  How can you be so sure that the offense is back?

Anybody that watched the game tonight, and paid attention, would have seen that the Cubs approach was greatly different from the past few weeks.

The Cubs were back to being patient at the plate, working deep counts and walking five times.  Three of these were by Kosuke Fukudome, whom had been swinging at stars for the past three weeks.

There was another change.  The Cubs had been struggling with men on third and less than two outs.  Over this offensive slump, they weren't even putting the ball in play, tonight was different.  Three times in the fifth inning, the Cubs came through in this situation. 

After Mark DeRosa led off with a single, Reed Johnson hit a ground rule double.  The Diamondbacks then moved in the infield for Ted Lilly, who answered with a high bouncer that cleared Reynolds at third base, scoring one.

Soriano then hit a slow roller to the Drew that scored Johnson.  Lilly, after moving to second, decided to do his best Rickey Henderson impression, and stole third.  Ryan Theriot then hit another slow grounder that got Lilly in, for three well executed plays that we haven't been seeing much of late.

Then, in the 8th inning, Aramis Ramirez broke an 0-26 slump with a single to left and was then followed by a Geovany Soto single to left, that broke an 0-21 slump. 

Derrek Lee contributed in the first inning with his first home run since June 20 against the White Sox.  Reed Johnson showed his muscle with a grand slam in the 8th inning.

Tonight was a night that the Cubs did everything right that they hadn't been getting right for a few weeks.  Working deep counts from top to bottom in the lineup.  Kosuke taking his walks, Lee's power, and Ramirez and Soto breaking their respective hitless streaks are all great signs that the offense is turning the corner.   

With Soriano back in the lineup, if this trend continues, there will be no more negative talk about the offense.  This offense has a chance to be better than they were in the first half.