Future looks bright in rout of Brewers
Colvin, Gorzelanny impress; Lee ties career high in RBIs
MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs are looking ahead, and they got a peek at two possible contributors in 2010 on Monday night.
Derrek Lee, who doesn't need to audition, drove in four runs to match his single-season career high of 107 RBIs, notching two on his 34th home run, and Tyler Colvin had a successful debut to help the Cubs beat the Milwaukee Brewers, 10-2. They're now 2-0 since Milton Bradley was issued a 15-game suspension.
Lee missed hitting for the cycle by a triple. He smacked a two-run single in a four-run first and a two-run homer in the second, his 34th, which was followed by Aramis Ramirez's solo shot. Tom Gorzelanny (6-2), also auditioning for 2010, picked up the win.
"We like Gorzelanny," Lou Piniella said. "He's got a spot here, whether it's pitching in the middle of the bullpen or whether it's as a fourth or fifth starter. We'll have to wait and see what happens over the winter."
Colvin was headed home for the offseason after playing in the Southern League championship with Double-A Tennessee when he got the last-minute call to join the Cubs. He started in center field and hit a sacrifice fly in the first for his first RBI, a single in the third for his first hit, walked in the fifth and advanced a runner on a groundout in the seventh.
"Yeah, I was nervous," Colvin said. "I can't hide that. I was really nervous before the game, I didn't eat. Once I got out there I was all right."
Having runners on base in the first inning helped.
"That actually made me relax a little bit having a man in scoring position, going up there with a plan to get the guy in," he said.
The Cubs gave him tickets from the game as a souvenir, and he'll probably get the ball from his first hit, appropriately marked. Colvin learned a lot in his debut.
"You learn how to control your emotions in front of a big crowd," he said. "I've never played in front of a crowd like this. Hopefully, I can build off this."
He planned on calling his parents when he got back to his hotel.
"I'm sure they're not asleep yet," he said.
Gorzelanny, making his fifth start since joining the Cubs on July 30, gave up six hits, including two solo homers by Mike Cameron. The lefty struck out nine, matching his career high, set Aug. 7, 2007, at Arizona. He had not had good success against the Brewers while with Pittsburgh.
"The difference was it's a new year," Gorzelanny said. "It's a lot different scenario for me now than it was last year. I've made quite a few changes, and it's just going out there knowing I can do it and knowing I have God on my side to get me through it, and just having the confidence and the fight to go out there and pitch my best."
The Cubs already know what Lee can do. He leads the Major Leagues with 23 home runs since July 1, and has nine in his last 19 games since Aug. 31. The last time a Cubs player had more homers from July 1 through the end of the season was Ramirez, who belted 24 in 2006.
"My stroke has just been more consistent this year," Lee said. "Day in and day out, I've been able to take good swings. Last year, I just fell off completely in the second half."
But he's not counting.
"The wins are the only thing that matters," Lee said. "[The media] puts a lot of emphasis on numbers. If I had a day like I had today and we lose, it doesn't matter.
"Maybe if I was 21, numbers would be a big deal. At this point, I just want to win."
So, getting 107 RBIs and matching his career high isn't a big deal?
"I don't get any bonus points for it," Lee said. "The fun is trying to get into the postseason and win a championship."
"Since the middle of May on, this guy here has hit the ball better than anybody in this league, not only for average, but for power and RBI production," Piniella said.
Chicago opened the game with four consecutive hits off Braden Looper (13-7), including Lee's two-run single. One out later, Jeff Baker hit an RBI single and Colvin followed with the sacrifice fly to left.
"It was a situation where, every pitch I threw, they hit," Looper said. "They didn't hit them all very hard, but every single one they swung at seemed to find a hole. It was just one of those days where I didn't give us a chance from the beginning."
Bradley was sent home after saying the Cubs were a negative environment and ripping the organization. Did Piniella notice a change in the team's mood since Bradley's departure?
"I think the clubhouse was nice and loose, yes," Piniella said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.