Barney’s clutch homer paves way to Cubs’ victory
It just so happens that Cubs manager Dale Sveum was talking about Darwin Barney's offense before Friday's 4-4, 11-inning victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
After all, everybody's been talking about Barney's defense all season, but he's come on with the bat lately.
"Obviously, you want the OPS to be over .700," Sveum said. "That kind of defense is saving runs constantly, every single day."
Barney's OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) isn't quite at .700. It's at .690, but if he keeps doing what he did Friday, it'll get there.
He hit a game-tying 2-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning off Fernando Salas. In the 11th, David DeJesus singled home pinch runner Brett Jackson with the game-winner, and the Cubs had an improbable victory over their Gateway Arch rivals, who are trying to hang on to a wild-card spot.
The Cubs also spoiled the 2012 debut of St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter, who had missed all season with a right-shoulder ailment.
Barney's defense continues to be stellar. He extended his errorless streak at second base to a National League-record 136 games, 5 shy of the major-league record.
At the plate. Friday's 2-for-5 game made him 13-for-29 on the homestand. His 7 homers are a career best and he tied last year's RBI total (43). Let's remember that in the second half last year, Barney faded to a .238 average after batting .306 before the all-star break.
"I feel all right about it," he said. "There have been times when I've gone through periods of adjustments and not really helping the offense out that much at times. It's one of those things where we're working on finding an approach I can stick with and take into the off-season and work on it and hopefully come in and stick with one thing next year."
Sveum liked Barney getting to work on that OPS the way he did.
"It seems like when he hits them, they're big home runs, that's for sure," the manager said. "He's had a walk-off (homer), and now to tie it, a couple others to put us ahead early in the game. So yeah, he's been swinging the bat good."
DeJesus had not been swinging it as well. He came into the game 4-for-22 on the homestand. He remedied that by going 4-for-6, with a triple and the game-winning single to right field off Joe Kelly.
"Through the elements, it was just a tough game," DeJesus said, referring to the light rain that fell almost all game. "They (the Cardinals) got out early. They made some plays, gave him (Carpenter) some runs early in the game ... We just kept battling. You never know."
One mystery was why the Cardinals had right-hander Kelly pitch to the left-handed hitting DeJesus with righty Barney on deck, the homer notwithstanding.
"I kind of thought they might not have (pitched to him) with the righty on deck," DeJesus said. "But Darwin just hit a homer, too. It was one of those situations. You put a changeup away for a strike and then fastball that just missed. Then he threw another changeup, and I was just able to get enough of it and find the hole."
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