W: Jair Jurrjens
L: Ryan Dempster
SV: Jonny Venters
Gather round, folks, and let me tell you the scary tale of the regression monster. You see, sometimes baseball players get lucky over the course of a season, and post a sub-2.00 ERA, or bat .360. Some ground balls either go unfettered by fielders; some screaming line drives find leather. Them's the breaks, as they say, but lost in that folksy bit of charm is the sinister Regression Monster, his teeth gnashing at extreme BABIPs and HR/FB rates. And eventually, every player who plies his trade long enough, will find himself ensconced in the jaws of statistical reality.
But then sometimes, your team employs Dan Uggla, who can dispel the demon with a simple flex of his barely-covered biceps. A latter day He-Man, Uggla has a gift for not only doing battle with the monster to distract it from his teammates, but can cover for them with a 984-foot home run onto Waveland Ave and, if he's lucky, a few nice charging defensive plays.
And indeed, that was the story today, as Jair Jurrjens -- who's been doing battle unaided with the monster since the All-Star break -- struggled his way through six and a third innings, allowing eight hits and walking five while recording just one strikeout. And yet, because of the heroic efforts of Dan Uggla, Jurrjens allowed not a single run. The Cubs left at least two men on base in six separate innings (a total of 15!) which either speaks to how bad the Cubs are or how Jurrjens found the luck that was on his side in the beginning of the season.
Of course, that was all nearly for naught when Jurrjens almost detonated his knee and/or ankle while trying to make a sliding play on a bunt from Cubs speedster Tony Campana, but he appears to have escaped that scary situation no worse for the wear. The same might not be true of Jose Constanza, though, who caught first base awkwardly while trying to beat out (another) infield hit; he left the game with a mildly sprained ankle, which shouldn't DL him, but will likely keep him out of the next couple of games.
As for the rest of the game, we were treated to a first-inning home run from Freddie Freeman, his 18th of the year, and a combined trio of hits from the resident speedsters, Constanza and Michael Bourn. The bullpen, as is its wont, was able to close the door on the Cubs, though it wasn't quite the dominating performance we've become accustomed to; Eric O'Flaherty allowed a hit, and Jonny Venters walked the first two Cubs he saw (and threw 9/12 pitches for balls at one point). I'm obviously more concerned about the latter, but I suspect that it was a more a bad night for Venters than any serious issue. His command was off, but he was still hitting 95+ with the sinker and 87 with movement on the slider.
Plus, he ended the game by striking out Carlos Pena and Marlon Byrd, and Alex Gonzalez made a really cool diving tag of second base on an Alfonso Soriano ground ball to end the game. Oh, speaking of Alex -- he drew a walk tonight! On four pitches! Fun fact: according to the Cubs' broadcast, that was his first walk in literally one calendar month. Congrats!
And so we're ready to do this again tomorrow night, aren't we? It'll be, to my neverending delight, the defining alliterative battle of our generation, with Mike Minor facing off against Casey Coleman. 8:05 EDT tomorrow night. See y'all then.