Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 6/6/13
Garza starting against the LA Angels on June 7, 2013 This year the Cubs are a team that has been a thorn in the side of many. In years past most fans loved it when the Cubs would come to town because it usually meant a win for their team. Nowadays, the Cubs are a better team all around.They have stronger pitching with pitchers who can give six to seven strong innings, and their batters have become more disciplined at the plate waiting for their pitches. If one was to look at the standings they would probably be surprised that the Cubs rank fourth in the NL Central and 12th in the National League. As a Cubs fan I find it hard to believe that we are ranked where we are. I feel that we have had a strong season so far and as the season progresses we are only getting stronger. Players are getting hot and guys are starting to hit well in clutch positions. The Cubs have won six of their last nine games and the reasons for these wins have been home runs. In the past nine games the Cubs have hit 13 home runs increasing their total on the season to 63. Last year the Cubs only had 137 on the season and it’s not even the halfway mark yet. Also they have increased their runners in scoring position (RISP) percentage. Last year the team only had 137 RBIs, 613 runs, and an on base percentage of .680. This year the team has already compiled 229 RBIs, 240 runs, and has a .720 on base percentage. It’s not hard to tell that the Cubs are a better team this year but what is hard to tell is why they are still ranked so low. Due to the recent Home Run Derby show the Cubs have put on, they have increased their slugging percentage to .417, ranking eleventh overall. This season the Cubs have lost 30 games by four runs or fewer, and the majority of those games, the Cubs have been winning up until the seventh inning. Last night’s game showed how well the Cubs are at staying in ballgames this year. The Los Angeles Angels went up against Matt Garza who has pitched fairly well since coming back from a latissimus dorsi strain, which caused him to miss the first seven weeks of the season. Garza gave up a Home run to Howie Kendrick in the bottom of the second inning with one man on base and no outs. The Cubs came back quickly in the top of the third when second baseman Darwin Barney, hit an RBI ground out to shortstop, allowing the Cubs right fielder Ryan Sweeney to score from third. In the bottom of the fourth the Angels increased their lead by three but it was short lived. The Cubs were able to get a single from both Dioner Navarro and Darwin Barney to set up Cody Ransom to try and tie the game. He did just that. Ransom was given an 80 mph changeup, which he connected with and sent it to the bleachers. Now the Cubs were on fire. Tuesday night’s game was the first time in seven games the Cubs did not hit a home run. Now the Cubs had a home run and it was time to win it. In the sixth inning the Cubs finally took the lead when Sweeney hit a soft fly ball to outfielder J.B. Shuck, allowing Starlin Castro to score. Again the Cubs were winning another ballgame by one run and Cub fans were still nervous. Fans have seen this type of game 30 times before in the 2013 season alone so it was only natural for them to feel a little nervous. This game was no different. In the bottom of the eighth with James Russell on the mound for the Cubs, Mark Trumbo hit the second pitch he saw into the bleachers tying the game up once again. In the previous game Russell was the pitcher who gave up the game winning home run to Albert Pujols. After Trumbo’s homerun the game went into extra innings. Now was the time for the Cubs to have a little bit of that clutch hitting magic they have had so well for the past two weeks. Anthony Rizzo hits a double down the first base line clearing the bases. In the top of the 10th, the Cubs were able to draw two walks and a single to load the bases for first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo had hit four ground out ground balls in the game so far, and was hoping for a different outcome for his fifth attempt. With 2 outs bases loaded in the 10th inning, Rizzo hit a 2-1 double down the first base line clearing the bases. The Cubs were now leading the game by three. Kevin Gregg the closer for the Cubs strikes out the first batter he faces and then serves up another home run to Mark Trumbo, his second of the night. Gregg faced four more batters striking out two, popping up one, and walking one. The Cubs had gotten their clutch magic back and snapped a two game losing streak. The Cubs have only lost two games to interleague play this season winning two of the series and tying the third.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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