Game 61 Recap: Cubs 4, Braves 5
Wolf vs. Lilly: Take a Guess at Who Won.
W- Paronto (3-1), Jim Wolf's 15 minutes of fame. ESPN's microphone crew. Lou's anger-management program. Honarable mentions to Mike Fontenot and the Cubs' Bullpen, for both coming up just short of heroic.
L- Dempster (1-3), Ted Lilly, Professionalism amongst umpires, my burning disdain of Joe Morgan, my curry, the gap separating MLB and Pro Wrestling, rested bullpens, retributive justice, Mike Fontenot's nose, my hopes of ever being hired by MLB, the notion of the Braves being a "classy" and "professional" ballclub.
S - Wickman (11)Things to take from the game: 1. Jim Wolf reads minds, sees the future. For anyone that missed it - As you can read below in all the detail, Lilly got thrown from the game with two outs in the first, for hitting Renteria. There was no advanced warning to the teams, but home plate ump Jim Wolf judged the pitch deliberate, and therefore ejected Lilly. As we learn from the microphone ESPN strategically placed on Wolf, he tells Lou that he knew it was deliberate, because he knew something like this was going to happen, before the game started. While Jim Wolf's powers of prognostication and telepathy are debatable, the results were quite real: Cubs relievers need to get 25 outs, a day after they had to record 22 outs. 2. Edgar Renteria is a chump. After being hit on the hand (a glancing blow, as he had taken his hand off the bat in order to protect his face), Renteria steals second, and gives Fontenot a People's Elbow, a Tomahawk Chop, or whatever you care to call it. He barely tried to slide. Think Robert Fick in the 2003 series. Renteria later left the game with a "contusion" on his left hand. Unclear if it was from being hit, or from doing the hitting. And due to Lilly's ejection, there's no practical way for one of our relievers to retaliate. 3. The Cubs showed some resiliancy The Cubs came back from a 2-0 deficit and loss of our starting pitcher to go ahead 4-2, courtesy of home runs by Barrett and Fontenot, a Fontenot triple, and a Soriano sac. fly. Marmol struggled a bit, but between him, Ohman, Wuertz, and Howry (who looked a whole lot better, tonight), the Cubs made it to the 8th with a 4-2 lead 4. The Eighth Inning Cubs loaded the bases in the eighth with no outs, but failed to score. Fontenot hit a sharp bouncer to the drawn in third basemen, who went to home and then on to first for the DP. Izturis then grounded out. Dempster came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth (as Howry had gone two innings, and Eyre and Gallagher were the only people left in the pen, and they'd thrown 35 and 54 pitches the prior night, respectively). Dempster struggles (perhaps holding back as he knows he has to pitch 2 innings?) and gives up the lead. 5-4 Braves. Wickman then made sure Dempster wouldn't need to pitch that second inning. There are a lot of frustrated Cubs fans, tonight. But seeing as how the deck was stacked against us, I'm glad that we at least went down fighting. Jim Wolf and the rest of the crew did a disservice to their profession, tonight, and the MLB policy on bean-balls is not working. The blow-by-blow details of the mayhem, below.
- Count me as a late-arriving fan. Cy Carlyle gets through the first without a score, and Lilly seems to have the Lillyhammer going in the bottom of the first. K's the first two guys
- And no sooner do I settled down, than Lilly hits Renteria with a pitch near the shoulders - it just barely knicks his left hand, which had been raised in self defense. Renteria takes a few faux-tough guy steps towards Lilly, and both teams half-heartedly evacuate their respective dugouts, loaf out to the field, and mill about for awhile.
- The most interesting thing to arise from all of this isn't any sort of confrontation between players, but the umpires' apparent decision to eject Lilly. Gammons reponrts on the ESPN telecast that there was no warning issued to the teams before the game, so it's not like Lilly knew in advance that he was gone if he hit somebody. What's more, ah, odd, is that the ejection wasn't immediate - it was AFTER the umps had tried to get between Renteria and Lilly and made sure that there wouldn't be any fisticuffs. Only then did homeplate ump Jim Wolf around to ejecting Lilly. Lou, surprisingly, takes it all in relative stride. ESPN has Wolf mic'ed up, and you can hear him say "that's it, that's it. you're done." Marmol coming in to relieve, with two outs in the first inning.
- Renteria then steals second, and "slides" in with both of his arms raised, feet-first and never really does get down on his butt with his chest back, as you would on a real slide. He extends the left arm and clobbers Fontenot in the face. Morgan is doing a good job evaluating all of this, and declares that it clearly was intentional. I completely agree. He also points out that the Cubs have no practical way of retaliating against Renteria, seeing as how we've already lost the first pitcher to plunk him. Renteria should have been ejected for the play, and wasn't.
- Kudos to Miller, Morgan, Gammons, and the ESPN crew - they've got the ump mic'ed, Gammons got in a couple brief worlds with Lou (although it didn't reveal much) and Miller and Morgan are doing a very good job of recounting the events, and calmly but clearly stating that the entire series of events was sheer and unmitigated bull-plop.
- It's times like these that I'm glad Barrett's on our team.
- And trying to cover this has caused me to forget about my curry on the stove-top, which now is burnt. I blame Jim Wolf. He owes me a curry.
- More good work by ESPN with the microphones: an inexact transcription of the exchange between Wolf and Piniella:
- "He's done.
- Because he threw at him.
- How do you know that he did?
- Because I was waiting for it, I knew it was going to happen.
- Oh come on, that's unbelievable."
- If anyone has the exact transrcript through Tivo or whatever, would love to read it.
- parachatters bring up the point that this might cause MLB to rethink its stance on having umps mic'ed up, as the broadcasters are just ripping the umps; additionally, they point out that the reasonable thing to do would be to have the umps mic'ed for every game, to better keep track of poor judgment and lack of professionalism.
- KellyJohnson finally gives us something else to talk about - a solo HR off Marmol in the third.
- Marmol goes up and just a little bit in on Francouer, leading to some howls from the fans. Fans are dumb. The word "fan" is an abbreviation of "fanatic."
- Escobar, Renteria and Francouer singles produce another run in the third. Francouer's was an end-of-the-bat, broken-bat squibber just between third and short.
- Marmol seems to be losing it now, with some very wild pitches two outs into the third. However, he manages to escape the third only down 2-0.
- Lou interviewed in the fourth: "No warning whatsoever. Well, the umpire felt that our pitcher was throwing at the hitter intentionally, are guy contends he was just trying to pitch inside. Like Hudson last night. That was the umpire's interpretation. You can explain your reasoning to him, but not going to change opinions." He demures on Renteria's slide in to second. Hopes for two innings from each reliever. A very controlled Lou.
- Ohman in to pitch the fourth, and hopefully fifth, with Pagan double-switched into the game, Jones out.
- Ohman also struggles with death-by-singles and control issues. Runners on 1 and 2, with 2 outs and an 0-2 count, and he hits Escobar in the shin with a slider
- And for whatever unknown reason, Renteria is now out of the game, and Chris Woodward in, in his place. Ohman gets Woodward to popup with the bases loaded, ending the inning
- Joe Morgan continues to mock the umpires. heh.
- Even Smoltz seems to be endorsing that Lilly and the Cubs got jobbed, as he demures when Jon and Joe ask about the Lilly/Wolf incident.
- Meanwhile, Fontenot triples into the RF corner, scoring DeRosa. That'll make his nose feel better. Izturis then hits a fly into shallow-mid left. Fontenot can't tag up, but personally I would have liked to see it. Diaz didn't have time to set himself and was running towards the left-field sideline stands.
- and no sooner than I type that, and Pagan hits a little dribbler to that area between the pitcher, first baseman and second baseman where you would try to push-bunt. He beats the throw at first, impressively, but Fontenot holds at third. A tough call about whether or not to go, but had he gone on contact or had a quick read, he easily would have scored. Much like the Barrett play last night, this seems to be one where Quade should have been screaming "GO!" from the start
- That said, it's a moot point, as Soriano hits a shot to right-center field, a 390 foot sacrifice fly at the wall. Suddenly, we have a tie game.
- Ohman only goes one inning, Wuertz now in. Wuertz also pitched an inning last night, but only on twelve pitches. Miller tells me Wuertz also pitched the day before yesterday.
- Word on Renteria is he left with a contusion on his left hand - I wonder if it was from getting hit by the pitch, or clobbering Fontenot's nose.
- Barrett puts us in the lead in the sixth, with a home run that just gets over the left-field fence and just elludes the flying Matt Diaz. 3-2
- Howry now in for the sixth. Gets two quick outs, appears to be throwing well. 94 MPH to Kelly Johnson, up and with movement.
- I spoke too soon, Johnson walks, Escobar singles, runners at 1 and 3 with 2 outs in the 6th. Eyre, Gallagher and Dempster are still available in the pen. Conceivably, Marquis also could pitch, given his short outing last night. Howry escapes the inning on a line-out to right, no damage.
- Fontenot absolutely smokes one over the 390 sign in right-center, for his first career MLB home run, on a nationally televised prime-time game. 4-2 Cubs. Congrats, Mike. Especially in light of getting the Tomahawk Chop from Edgar.
- Gammons reporting that Piniella suggested the players-only meeting, and asked Lee to find out if the players had any problems with his managing. Lee reported back that 4 or 5 players were upset with their amount of playing-time, but no personal complaints with Lou.
- Top of the 7th, Izturis singles, Pagan sacrifices him to second, causing Soriano to get intentionally walked. Pie up with runners on 1 and 2, one out. Pie slaps one to short, and on the 4-6-3 attempt, Johnson's throw is high, allowing Pie to get his foot on the bag before Thorman can come down with the throw. Cox argues the call, but isn't ejected. Nuts. Lee up, 2 outs, 1st and 3rd. Pie takes second during the AB, but LEE 6-3's to end the inning.
- Howry really is bringing it. Andruw Jones hit a 400 ft. flyout, but the fastball is really buzzing. And the slider that Francouer flies out to center on, is clocked at 91. It hasn't been a thing of beauty all the way through, but overall this has to be very encouraging. K's Diaz, looking, to end his second inning.
- Eighth begins with Barrett reaching on an error by third-baseman Woodward, Barrett with nice hustle down the line. Theriot then singles up the middle, and we have a nice rally going to start the 8th.
- DeRosa then bunts one towards third, and the ball kicks hard left towards the foul line. Woodward lets it go, and it stops dead on the chalk. Fair ball, bases now loaded.
- Fontenot up, and he smokes one to third. Woodward is playing in, is able to corral the ball and throws home, to start a 5-2-3 DP. Izturis then hits a high chopper and is barely thrown out, and our bases loaded, no out 8th inning ends without any runs scoring. Let's hope we don't regret this.
- Dempster appears to start the eighth, going for a 2 inning save. Looks like we're bypassing Eyre, who threw 2 IP and 35 pitches last night, as well as Gallagher (3.1 and 54).
- and he's greeted by Saltalamacchia with a blistering double off the right-center wall, and a Thorman double down the 1B line . 4-3 Cubs. ohhhhhhhhh boy.
- Willie Harris in to PH for the pitcher, and with everyone expecting a bunt to advance the tying run to third, Harris has the green light, and ropes one over a leaping Theriot. Another inch on him, and Theriot has it. Instead, runners at 1st and 3rd, still nobody out, 4-3 in the eighth. ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh man.
- And Harris steals second, easily. oooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh my stars, (as Granny Trans, god keep her, used to say).
- Yunel Escobar batting, and on an inside pitch, Escobar seems to flinch and twist out of the way. Replay shows that as the pitch was on its way to the plate, a bug flew into his eye! Scary, if odd, stuff.
- Escobar then GIDPs, but a run scores. 4-4 game, but at least the bases are empty with two outs. We're in no shape to go extra innings, as Eyre and Gallagher are both spent, and Dempster is laboring in the eighth.
- Parachat's been speculating, since the start of the eighth, that Z should pitch in this game if Dempster struggles or it goes long. In that scenario, Lilly would have to pitch tomorrow. They show Lou asking Marquis if he can pitch tonight, and Marquis says he's ready to go.
- Dempster has Jones at a 3-2 count, and falls down as he delibers a pitch into the dirt. Wild pitch, Harris races for home and scores the go-ahead run. Dempster appears hurt. We have Eyre, who threw 35 pitches last night and, to be generous, has struggled this year, and Gallagher, who is 21, a starter by training, and threw 54 pitches last night, available in the pen. Ack, ack, ack. Dempster appears ok, and gets the next guy on the first pitch, 6-4 force. Dempster throws 29 pitches in the inning. It should be noted that of the three walks, only ball 4 to Jones, the one with the wild pitch where Dempster falls down, was un-intentional.
- And Wickman gets three outs for the save. We didn't find a new way to lose, so much as a new way to lose found us.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.
If all the starters have FIP > ERA, is that luck or good defense?
#Cubs plummet to 19-5 in August.
Fun with FIP
- J. Hammel 3.07 ERA/4.27 FIP (3.68 FIP last year)
- J. Arrieta 2.62 ERA/3.05 FIP (2.35 FIP last year)
- J. Lester 2.81 ERA/3.67 FIP (2.92 FIP last year)
- K. Hendricks 2.19 ERA/3.37 FIP (3.36 FIP last year)
- J. Lackey 3.41 ERA/3.72 FIP (3.57 FIP last year with Cards)