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Blake DeWitt, Carlos Pena and Kosuke Fukudome come up big for Cubs

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Who saw that headline coming a month ago?

Blake DeWitt, who was on the bench for 30 of the Cubs’ previous 31 games this year, homered and scored the winning run.

Carlos Pena, who was hitting .159 and slugging .175 at the end of April, hit a game-tying homer in the ninth.

Kosuke Fukudome, who entered the day in a 2-for-25 slump and had just two RBI in 71 at-bats for the season, delivered the game-winning hit.

And the Cubs did it against the Reds, who have become famous for their late-game heroics, as Francisco Cordero blew a save for the first time this year.

The Cubs ended up winning 3-2 after Pena’s leadoff homer off Cordero and Fukudome’s RBI single.  They caught a terrible break with two outs in the ninth, when Jeff Baker’s fly to deep right center took a big bounce off the warning track and jumped into the stands, preventing DeWitt from scoring from first. Fukudome, though, followed that with a liner up the middle, finishing the game.

The most positive development for the Cubs has to be Pena’s power surge.  He has three homers in four games after going a month without one.

Because Pena and Fukudome are now playing well enough to hold down regular jobs, the Cubs need to seriously consider demoting Tyler Colvin to Triple-A.  Last year’s rookie surprise is batting just .121 after going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts today.  The Cubs would be better off getting him regular at-bats in the minors and giving him his playing time to Reed Johnson.

CC Sabathia checking into an alcohol rehab center

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This is totally unexpected and definitely unfortunate: The New York Yankees just released a statement from CC Sabathia saying that he is checking himself into an alcohol rehabilitation center.

Sabathia, who was involved in a relatively minor incident outside a nightclub back in August, has battled injuries and ineffectiveness for the past three seasons but has, in his last few starts, shown himself to be effective, even if he’s not to the level he once was. And, should the Yankees advance past the Wild Card game, one would have assumed that the Yankees would’ve been counting on him for the playoff rotation. Now, however, that seems both doubtful and completely superfluous.

And for what it’s worth, Sabathia’s statement, just released by the Yankees, suggests that he is aware of the need to get his priorities in order:

“Today I am checking myself into an alcohol rehabilitation center to receive the professional care and assistance needed to treat my disease.

“I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push toward the World Series. It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player.

“I want to thank the New York Yankees organization for their encouragement and understanding. Their support gives me great strength and has allowed me to move forward with this decision with a clear mind.

“As difficult as this decision is to share publicly, I don’t want to run and hide. But for now please respect my family’s need for privacy as we work through this challenge together.

“Being an adult means being accountable. Being a baseball player means that others look up to you. I want my kids — and others who may have become fans of mine over the years — to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart and be the type of person again that I can be proud of. And that’s exactly what I am going to do.

“I am looking forward to being out on the field with my team next season playing the game that brings me so much happiness.”

Here’s hoping Sabathia deals with whatever problems he’s facing and comes out healthy on the other end.

Diamondbacks fire pitching coach Mike Harkey

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Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the Diamondbacks have fired pitching coach Mike Harkey following a season in which the staff ranked ninth among NL teams in runs allowed.

That actually represents a big improvement from last season, when the Diamondbacks allowed the second-most runs in the league in Harkey’s first year as pitching coach, but the Tony La Russa-led front office has decided to make a change.

Prior to joining the Diamondbacks two offseasons ago Harkey served as the Yankees’ bullpen coach from 2008-2013. He pitched eight seasons in the majors.