CHICAGO -- Just because Joe Mather wore a cardinal red T-shirt to the ballpark Monday under his hoodie didn't mean he still had warm and fuzzy feelings for his former team.
Sure Mather still has friends in the opposing locker room, but that didn't dull the excitement of beating the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals with a two-run single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Cubs a 3-2 victory.
“I'd lie if I said there wasn't [satisfaction], yeah,” Mather said about beating the organization that drafted him in 2001 and called him one of their own until 2010. “I have a lot of good friends over there, but it does feel good. When it comes down to it ultimately, we won a big league game and the self-satisfaction was secondary.”
Maybe winning the big league game was secondary and beating his former team was third on the list. What could mean more is that the Cubs finally have a feel-good moment they can build on after a rough start to the season.
“Obviously things haven't gone that well at home,” manavger Dale Sveum said about his club that won for just the fourth time in 11 games at Wrigley Field. “To do that off one of the best closers and the world champions is always a big springboard.”
The reality of the situation is that the Cubs were one strike away from scoring just one run in a game for the fifth time this season. With Bryan LaHair at third base and Geovany Soto at second, Mather fell behind in the count 0-2 against standout closer Jason Motte.
But with Motte wearing down, thanks in large part to a 12-pitch walk to LaHair, Mather was able to get what he was looking for on a 2-2 count to single up the middle and make everybody forget just how hard runs had been to come by all night.
“We played a tough series against Cincinnati and really feel that everybody has been battling,” Mather said. “You look at Bryan LaHair, you look at Geovany Soto, those at-bats alone kind of speak to how we've been working and how we've worked since spring training.”
After such a slow start, turning things around won't be quick but first things first: Monday's victory means the Cubs just have to beat the Cardinals one more time to win their first series of the season.
“These are the kind of things we need to build on,” LaHair said. “Enjoy it tonight and come to the park tomorrow and continue to play hard and try to get wins.”