On the 44th anniversary of Ernie Banks‘ 500th career home run, the Chicago Cubs honored him by bringing out the heavy lumber against the St. Louis Cardinals. The performance was one of the team’s best in years. It was an offensive onslaught by the Cubs that saw all nine starters get at least one hit. It is the kind of performance that can spark some momentum, and hopefully it’s not just another performance that is followed up by yet another slump.
The Cubs entered the game last in the big-leagues in hits. On Monday, they banged out 20 of them. In addition, they hit for a team cycle led by Junior Lake‘s monster three-hit game which included a long home run and six RBIs. Chicago also scored 17 runs in the ball game, which is tied for their most runs scored in a single game since 2008.
After a week in which the Cubs struggled, failed to get the big hit and showed signs of cracking with frustration, the game against the Cardinals was one that the team could actually smile about throughout. Somewhere Banks may have been smiling as well and petitioning that on this day the Cubs could definitely play too with the way they were swinging the bats. Up and down the lineup Chicago was circling the bases with ease, especially Emilio Bonifacio who scored five of the 17 runs.
Unfortunately, it does deserve mentioning that one person may only have been smiling and shaking his head comically during the game, and that is Jeff Samardzija. Samardzija is second in the majors in ERA and has zero wins to show for his efforts. In his eight starts, the Cubs have scored a total of 12 runs. Against St. Louis, Chicago scored seven in the first two innings. In 2014, if it was not for having hard luck, Samardzija would have no luck at all.
Starlin Castro also had three hits and was a home run away from the cycle during the rout. If it was not for Troy Tulowitzki, Castro could be the top star among NL shortstops. He has played terrifically throughout the season for the Cubs. His early numbers are great, but one thing that will never show up in the box score is that Castro is showing hustle once again. He is running out ground balls and trying to take the extra base, which is something that he was not making a habit out of the last season and a half.
If the Cubs are not able to follow up this performance with more good play, it will be another instance of one step forward and one step back for the club. They draw Adam Wainwright in their next game, and in two starts already, the Cubs have actually had Wainwright’s number which not a lot of teams can claim. Chicago has scored ten runs in 12 innings against the right-hander this year, and a third such instance would be a big statement by the Cubs. Perhaps Chicago can impersonate a solid offense two games in a row and keep the bats in a groove for an extended period of time.
Nick Schaeflein is a Chicago Cubs writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.