The Nationals stink, and the Cubs delivered another reminder of it Monday night, sailing to a 7-2 win behind Ted Lilly's pitching and a combined five RBI from Mark DeRosa and Aramis Ramirez. With the win, the Cubs achieved a feat that seemed impossible just a few weeks ago: achieving a better than .500 record (41-40) at the halfway point in the season.
With three more games coming up against Washington followed by three against the Pirates, the Cubs could/should remain above .500 at the All-Star break. The problem is, the Brewers are at Pittsburgh now, after which they travel to Washington to pummel the Nats.
It was a great weekend, but the fact remains the Cubs have 6 1/2 games to make up against a very good Brewers team. (It says a lot about how talented and how deep they are that Yovanni Gallardo, who looked so good Friday afternoon, is being moved to the bullpen as Chris Capuano comes off the Disabled List.) In other words, we could have a good three months of scoreboard-watching ahead of us.
Will Ronny Cedeno be a part of the chase? Today's Baseball Prospectus includes a piece by Kevin Goldstein that offers this update on the Cubs' shortstop of the future turned Des Moines, Iowa resident:
Dispatched to the minors after beginning the year by going 3-for-31, no kind of chaser for an awful 2006 in the starter’s role last year (including a .211 Equivalent Average), but his scouting reports were better than that, and he’s putting everything together since going back to the minors. Currently batting .387/.466/.638 in 45 games as an I-Cub, Cedeno is showing unprecedented power, including five home runs in his last five games. After compiling a miserable strikeout-to-unintentional walk ratio of 109-13 for the Cubs last year, he has more walks (23), than strikeouts (21) in 163 at-bats for Iowa. If the Cubs think they’re in it, and it seems like they do (and are), there’s a free in-house upgrade awaiting them in the Hawkeye State.