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Contending 07/20/2009

Posted by sportretort in mlb, Sports.
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There is life.  Ok, so it was the lowly Nationals, but in case you haven’t noticed, the Chicago Cubs have come to life.  They swept a 4 game series from the Washington Nationals, baseball’s worst team, over the weekend in the first series

The Cubs are celebrating victories more often these days

The Cubs are celebrating victories more often these days

 since the all star break.  The encouraging thing about the series, however, is not that they won, but how.  In the 4 games they did it in every conceivable way.  They won with timely hitting, they won with clutch hitting, they came from behind and won.  They won close games.  They won going away. And they did it on the road.  This team has been struggling all season.   Perhaps now they have found a groove.

Even more important, they won 2 of the last 3 games before the break from the division leading Cardinals.  In the tightly packed NL Central Division, the Cubs find themselves in 2nd place, 2 games behind St Louis.  during the week before the break they had fallen to 5th and 5 games back.  This team should be the class of the division.  They have won the Central each of the past 2 years.  But there has been no consistency in their play so far this season.  They would get good pitching but struggle at the plate.  They would score runs, but give up the lead in the late innings.  They have fought through injuries and player suspensions.  But perhaps that frustrating, seemingly fruitless first half is now behind them.  The Cubs have won 7 of their last 8 ball games.  If this team has the second half they are capable of, they will again be the Central champs.

The Rockies have been the best team in baseball over the past 40 games.

The Rockies have been the best team in baseball over the past 40 games.

Speaking of teams on a roll, the Colorado Rockies show no signs of slowing down.  On June 4th, this team was a dismal 20 – 32 and in a free fall.  All they have done since that date is go 30 – 10.  They are 8 games behind the LA Dodgers in the NL West, but they trail the San Francisco Giants by only 1/2 game in the NL Wild Card race.  They are in the Wild Card Race, and do not count them out of the division race because as good as LA is, their pitching is suspect and may not hold up all season long.  Many pundents believe the Rockies  are one or two middle relievers away from being the best team in the National League.  Watch for a move with the trade deadline fast approaching.  The starting pitching has been spectacular since early June, lead by Jason Marquis who became the first 12 game winner in the Major Leagues last night.  This team has seen consistent hitting and great fielding during this stretch.  They are one of a small number of teams that have a winning record on the road.  They approach each game expecting to win, and have played .750 ball for the last 6 weeks. 

Look for the Rockies to join the Cubs as participants in the National League playoffs at the end of the season.

Rockies Marquis became the Major League's first 12 game winner

Rockies Marquis became the Major League's first 12 game winner

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