Our [censored] Game 2 thoughts...
If I had to condense last night's game into a single, telling snapshot, it would be the image of Ted Lilly slamming his glove to the ground after throwing Chris Young that 3-2 meatball in the second inning. That moment captured Lilly's dismal performance, lack of poise, and the frustration of watching them.
It appeared to me as though Lilly couldn't spot his curveball and was determined to compensate by trying to throw his fastball 130 mph, thus all the wild-high pitches.
It seemed pretty obvious from the beginning that Lilly didn't have "it" tonight, that "it" mostly being his control. He was ever so close from escaping the second before throwing such a lousy 3-2 pitch to Young that I'm pretty sure 5 of 6 TCR Writers could have hit out.
The 4-2 lead still seemed within reach but apparently this is Stephen Drew's coming out party. I'm thrilled to have been invited. If I had known beforehand I would have suggested postponing it until the spring...of 2008.
Well, this time around we don't have managerial decisions to question...this was a failure of execution, plain and simple. Ted Lilly's diabolical plan to confuse the Diamondbacks by throwing them high batting-practice fastballs didn't work, and he apparently didn't have a plan B.
Instead of dissecting Lilly's performance and the 0-2 hole the Cubs are in, can we talk about whether or not AUGIE Ojeda should have been out for avoiding Lee's tag on his bunt? I vote yes.
The bunt play that Augie reached on was suspicious on a number of accounts. Not only did he clearly step outside the second white line to avoid the tag but for whatever reason the first base umpire steadfastly refused to ask the home plate ump. Now I'm not sure on the specifics of the rule and procedures on that sort of play, but I do know it's the home plate umps call if a ball is fair or not on a bunt, why wouldn't it be the his call on the baserunner as well?
Our big hitters look completely lost. In the third inning, Ron Santo pointed out on the radio broadcast that Aramis Ramirez was taking baby steps forward in the batter's box in the middle of Doug Davis's delivery so as to counteract the off-speed pitches. "The opposition notices that, you can be sure of it," Santo said. To me, it sounds like a desperate hitter who has been stripped of his confidence; Ramirez's performance last night was consistent with that.
: Some food for thought:
Augie Ojeda batting .571 in the series
Aramis Ramirez batting .000
Sorry, I can't get past the fact that this is AUGIE OJEDA we're getting beaten by.
I seem to remember some funny, handsome TCR blogger who warned at the start of this that Augie was having a nice little renaissance in Arizona... I wonder who that guy was who warned that? He'd probably be a fun guy to have a beer with...
I just figured he had an Augie obsession and that we should try to arrange some form of intervention.
Moving on there were some positives:
--We have two home games in which to regain our bearings and if we get to Game 4, our ace will be reasonably rested.
--Looks like Jim Hendry, et al have actually produced a big league catcher.
--Kerry Wood looked like KERRY WOOD.
--And some of the spring seems to have returned to Ryan Theriot's spikes. The double-play that he and DeRosa turned on Chris Snyder's hard-hit grounder was pretty slick, so much so that I thought it might perk up our hitters.
Let's take a look at my 3 keys of the game from earlier:
Solve the Rubik's cube
: Nope, Davis pretty much took care of business and a rare case of his linescore looking worse than he pitched.
TLFC Super Computer better be right:
Nope, someone give it a kick, it seems to be on the fritz.
Spy vs Spy the Rematch!
Not much of a factor, but Hart got tagged for 2 runs and their bullpen remains mostly perfect although Juan Cruz gave up 2 inherited runs.
Finally, the obligatory commentator commentary:
At 9:38pm, I officially swore off Dick Stockton and ordered the WGN audio/TBS video Combination Plate. I heartily recommend it, even though the sync was off by a second or two. Santo was the perfect mouthpiece for my frustration and showed some genuine insight (like the Ramirez observation above).
It wasn't until the sixth or seventh inning that Pat & Ron went into one of their comedy riffs, in this case about how Santo called Juan Cruz, "Jose," during his entire time with the Cubs and Cruz never corrected him. I actually thought it was kind of funny.
And last night I was grateful for the diversion.
: I unfortunately was stuck at work and ended up watching most of the game via our adopted son, Tivo. While normally I appreciate everything Tivo does for the family, playoff baseball should not be watched this way. As soon as any tense moment arose, I was compelled to fast forward to see what happened. While I was able to resist the urge for the most part, by the time the Cubs went down 6-2, I just ended up skipping through most of the rest of the game stopping on any action moments.
The good news though is I didn't have to listen to Stockton and Darling.
I did catch a clip of Santo's call after Young's home on XM radio this morning: "I said not to challenge him." Gold.
: I was at the game last night and the fair-weather D'backs fans who come out of the woodwork on Opening Day and whenever the Diamondbacks have been in the post-season are just plain obnoxious. All copy cat stuff. Nothing original. And they have to be told by the scoreboard when to "GET LOUD!" or "MAKE NOISE!" or when to yell "BEAT DA CUBS!" They're just like the fair-weather Padres fans who came out from the cracks in the sidewalk in the '84 NLCS.
And speaking of 1984, that season the Cubs had the best record in the N. L. and had a losing record against only one N. L. team... the last-place Pirates.
Sometimes certain teams have your number, and it would seem that the Marlins and D'backs are in that category this season.
The bottom line is, the Cubs big three (Soriano, D-Lee, and Ramirez) need to get H-O-T this weekend (like they were the last homestand versus CIN and PIT a couple of weeks ago). If those three can get hot, I believe the Cubs will win the two at Wrigley, and then they can go back to Phoenix on Tuesday and take their chances in a one-game winner-take-all.