--RHP Carlos Zambrano became the eighth Cubs pitcher since World War II to win at least 15 games entering a season 23 years old or younger. RHP Mark Prior was the last Cubs pitcher to do it when he won 18 games last year after opening the season at age 22.
Greg Maddux (1988, 1989 and 1990), Ken Holtzman (1969), Fergie Jenkins (1967), Dick Ellsworth (1963), Glen Hobie (1959 and 1960) and Dick Drott (1957) were the others to accomplish that feat.
--C Michael Barrett, who was hitting .299 through his first 123 games, has a shot at becoming the first Cubs catcher since Rick Wilkins (1993) to hit .300 or better. In Cubs history only Wilkins (once), Gabby Hartnett (five times) and Bob O'Farrell (twice) have done it.
--The Cubs played four games in three cities in a three-day stretch Sept. 19-21. They wrapped up a four-game set in Cincinnati on Sept. 19, played a makeup doubleheader in Miami against Florida on the 20th and opened a three-game series against Pittsburgh on the 21st.
"I haven't done that before," manager Dusty Baker said. "But if you're around baseball long enough, you'll see something new every day."
The doubleheader with Florida came about because Hurricane Frances postponed a Sept. 3-5 series in Miami.
Weather problems forced the Cubs to cram 26 games in the last 24 days.
"We have so many off days in the first half of the season and not as many when we really need them," Baker said. "Everybody is worn and injured on every team and we don't have them."
BY THE NUMBERS: 114 and 2 -- Games outfielder Ben Grieve played this year without being hit by a pitch and the number of times he was hit by a pitch in his 115th game.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I've been doing the hop for 14 years and you want me to change it now? Like I've said, this is my style. And I'm going to keep it. Like it or not. That's it." -- OF Sammy Sosa to his critics who say he should abandon his home run hop.
PITCHING TRENDS: The Cubs bullpen enjoyed a 12-game stretch in which it posted a 0.98 ERA until giving up four runs against the New York Mets in a 4-3, 11-inning loss on Sept. 25.
PITCHERS TO WATCH:
--RHP Matt Clement, who couldn't go five innings in three games during a four-start stretch, was skipped a start on the last turn of the rotation.
--RHP Ryan Dempster continues to be effective as an eighth-inning man and could vie for the closer's role next season.
--LHP Glendon Rusch allowed two runs on nine hits in 13 innings but was saddled with two no-decisions against Cincinnati on Sept. 19 and the New York Mets on Sept. 24 and has replaced Matt Clement in the starting rotation for the final two turns.
LINEUP LOWDOWN: The Cubs have been horrid in one-run games this year but were 6-3 in the last nine.
POSITION PLAYERS TO WATCH:
--CF Corey Patterson needs a second wind. During an 11-game stretch, the leadoff hitter was hitting .130 with 21 strikeouts.
--RF Sammy Sosa was moved up to the No. 5 spot when SS Nomar Garciaparra returned from a groin injury and was put in the sixth spot. But Sosa continues to struggle and is threatening to go below the .250 mark.
--C Michael Barrett, who hit .299 in his first 123 games, is well above the .253 lifetime average he brought into the 2004 season.
MEDICAL WATCH: OF Todd Hollandsworth went on the 60-day disabled list retroactive to June 28 and continues to cross his fingers he will return after suffering two setbacks in his rehab. RHP Joe Borowski (torn right rotator cuff) completed a rehab stint at Triple-A Iowa but his arm strength is still not where he wants it to be. He will throw bullpen and simulated sessions but its possible he won't return in 2004.
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