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Chicago Cubs Take A Step Forward, Then Two Steps Back

kane simmonsCorrespondent IJuly 10, 2009

CHICAGO - JULY 08: Manager Lou Piniella #41 of the Chicago Cubs paces in the dugout during a game against the Atlanta Braves on July 8, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Braves defeated the Cubs 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

On Monday, the Cubs reactivated Aramis Ramirez, Reed Johnson, and Angel Guzman   from the DL. Since then, the team has put two other players on the DL. 

Ryan Dempster was the latest of 12 Cubs thus far this season to be bitten by injury. Dempster broke his big toe jumping over the rail of the dugout. Now, Geovanny Soto is heading to the DL after straining his oblique in batting practice. 

It seemed like a turnaround was imminent on Monday. The Cubs had just taken three of four games against Milwaukee and got three players back from injury. They had won five of six to begin July.

The Cubs were "back." The middle of the lineup was healthy for the first time in months. Despite the injuries, the Cubs were only a couple of games back in the division.

Then Dempster broke his toe and the offense scored two runs in two games. After that, Soto hurt himself and the Cubs lost two of three against the Braves at home.

As if the injuries didn't hurt enough, Albert Pujols and the NL Central-leading Cardinals come into town for a four-game series.

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If Kevin Hart can pitch like he did on Wednesday, the loss of Dempster won't hurt as much. Hart was sent to AAA Iowa to get some more work in, so we will see if he can imitate Randy Wells after the All-Star break.

The loss of Soto could be a blessing in disguise. It provides a spot for Jake Fox to play.

Fox has played catcher in the past, but has yet to play the position in the majors this year. With Soto out until at least the end of July, Fox will get a chance behind the plate. 

To stay in the hunt for the NL Central title, the Cubs need to, at the very least, split the weekend series against the Redbirds.

The Cubs will need to limit Pujols's production. Walking him every time, their is a chance Pujols can hurt the Cubs.

The only time the Cubs should pitch to Pujols is if the Cubs are winning by a lot, or if nobody is on base.

Make the rest of the Cardinals beat the Cubs and don't even give Albert a chance, because he will single-handily beat the Cubs.  

The Cubs could learn something from the Cardinals. After a bad week, various St. Louis starters and fielders began growing moustaches

The Cardinals did this after a week. The Cubs have been slumping for the entire year.

If the Cubs did this earlier this year, they would look like ZZ Top about now. 

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