Even though we all know the Chicago Cubs are smack in the middle of a major overhaul, you started getting the impression --with eight straight losses since the trade deadline-- that the Cubs might not win another game this season. That's hyperbole of course, but it has been a long two weeks for the Chicago Cubs.
Go figure, the Cubs were able to end their losing streak by taking down the first place Cincinnati Reds. After losing the last two games to the Pittsburgh Pirates at the turn of the month, the Cubs were then swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. Southern California has not been kind to the Chicago Cubs this year. I don't know if it's the travelling that throws them off or what, but they are 0-13 on the road against the NL West. However, they're 8-1 at home against the same teams. It's hard to figure this game out sometimes.
The win itself was a pretty nice one. After falling behind early (and Chris Volstad pitching in about his 435th start since his last win), the Cubs were able to get even on Starlin Castro's two-run double, and then took a late lead on Alfonso Soriano's two-run home run in the eighth inning. While at this point wins don't mean a whole lot practically, I'm sure they do a lot psychologically. Further, I'm sure the Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals appreciated the win. With Soriano's home run, he became just the third active player -- David Ortiz, Albert Pujols -- to hit 20 home runs in 11 straight seasons. From a Cub perspective, he joined Andre Dawson as the only Cubs player to hit 20 in his first six seasons with the team.
Watching this Cubs team feels extremely strange, inasmuch as we're basically watching a whole new team than we were not two weeks ago. Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson, Geovany Soto, and Jeff Baker are all gone, Matt Garza remains sidelined, and the Cubs have brought up Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters, Justin Germano, Alberto Cabrera, Brooks Raley, re-called Adrian Cardenas and Chris Volstad, and activated Wellington Castillo. It's a team full of youth, excitement, and undeniable growing pains.
As the rosters get ready to expand and the Cubs are able to see all of what they have in the minors, it will make for an interesting September. Not only will the Cubs begin to see what they already have in house, but it will dictate what actions in free agency Theo Epstein and company will take come this offseason.
It's going to be a long road, but I'm excited to watch the Cubs travel down it.
Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, having lived in Illinois his entire life and having followed Major League Baseball throughout.