Since I last posted, the Cubs have won three games in a row and improved their record to better than .500 for the first time this season; Kerry Wood picked up his second and third saves of the season; and Kosuke Fukudome is well on his way to earning a statue of his very own.
Monday's game, in which Ted Lilly couldn't stick around long enough to earn his first win of the season despite the fact that the Cubs had staked him to an early 7-0 lead, was damned ugly in just about every way a 12-inning victory can be.
What made it all the more challenging was the fact that Lou Piniella had committed to giving Wood and his right arm the day off. That forced Jon Lieber to pitch three innings of relief--it's not often a long relief assignment begins in the ninth inning--but Lieber came through with three scoreless innings. The Cubs then pushed across the winning runs in the top of the 12th, which meant Lieber collected the win and Carlos Marmol, the fill-in closer on this day, picked up his first save.
Deserving ends for Lieber and Marmol, I would say, but it will be nice to know Wood is available for duty once again on Wednesday night, when the Cubs and Pirates resume their three-game series.
Carlos Zambrano, who had a 5.77 ERA with 25 K and 19 BB in 34 1/3 innings last April, is having a much better go of it so far in 2008. Z followed up his 6 2/3 shutout innings on Opening Day by giving up two runs in seven innings on Saturday on the way to his first win of the season. Maybe most impressive of all, Zambrano has walked just one man in 13 2/3 IP. For that matter, Kerry Wood, who didn't issue any walks in Arizona this spring, has issued just one BB in four innings.
In other words, between the two of them, Zambrano and Wood have passed two hitters in 17 2/3 innings.