Lucky Number 13
For the second time in a week the Cubs go 13 innings, but manage the win this time to keep a half-game lead in the NL Central as the Cardinals defeated the Dodgers (Brewers lost again to drop 4 back). The class of the Central division since June, the Astros waltzed into Wrigley on the shoulder of the über-hot Wandy Rodriguez (4 straight wins and 0.62 ERA in July) and he didn't disappoint, holding the Cubs to a run on 7 strikeouts in 7 innings. Z matched those 7 innings and one run, although with just 4 K's and 4 BB's. That left it up to the bullpens and the Cubs' proved to be just a little bit better tonight
Alfonso Soriano had goat written all over him, going 0/5 with 3 K's and
failing to run on a tap out to third base that he claimed hit his toe.
Then with the bases loaded and 0 outs, he got one more chance and
launched one deep to center on top of the center field restaurant for
the win and give the Cubs the opener.
Armchair Managing: In the bottom of the 7th with 2 outs after a Jeff Baker double, the Astros walked Koyie Hill intentionally to force Lou's hand with Zambrano due up. Z did double in an earlier at-bat and was at 103 pitches and Lou stuck with Z for the at-bat. He mercifully grounded out to end the inning and then was replaced by Aaron Heilman to start the eighth. I mean, I love Z as good-hitting pitcher, but there are better options on the bench, especially if Z is done for the night. Of course, the game ends up going 13 innings and the Cubs needed all those extra bats, although they may not have if the pinch-hitter came through.
Armchair Managing II: Bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th with one out, Lou sends Mike Fontenot out to pinch-hit. Then Lou calls for the suicide squeeze to the surprise of everyone and Fontenot whiffs at the attempt and Bradley is out at home. I actually thought it was a good call, just poor execution. Fontenot would then add a poor throw to third base on a triple by Jason Michaels with two outs in the top of the 10th. A decent throw nails him by plenty, but luckily Jeff Stevens got the next batter.
The Bullpen: Speaking of Stevens, it was my first look at him since his call-up and I have to
say I like what he has to offer. He seems to have a little deception in
his delivery and his 93-95 mph seems to get up on the hitters with a
little late movement catching them off-guard. His breaking ball has a
steep drop that he was able to control...at least tonight.
For all the hand-wringing over the relief corp, they entered the game 6th in ERA in the NL(3.79) as a group and that ranking might improve after 6 scoreless last night.
Great Moments in Parachat: I could never do justice to a Transmission recap, but some solid offerings in tonight's Parachat..
- The Mike Fontenot/Orphan parallel...add "Esther" to his list of nicknames
- clothing optional charity dining with Ryan Theriot
- Bobby Jenks bobblehead does not resemble Bobby Jenks
- Brenly and 17 yr old gymnasts
- Celebrity church-going and my brush with fame
- Reminder to self to write down Parachat moments as they happen instead of trying to remember them 3 hours later
- I have much to learn
- appreciating Transmission's recaps...