[update] this form appears to be the best place to go to register your disgust with the guest conductor situation.
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.
W -Moylan (2-1), over-umpiring.
L - Marquis (5-3), equal-opportunity plunking.
Things to take from this game1. The First Pitch Hudson drilled Soriano with a fastball in the armpit, which more likely than not was purposeful. Tim Tschida immediately issues a warning to both teams, and the game progresses without incident. (Other than Lou getting a bit worked up when Sean Gallagher gets hit with an errant curveball) 2. Quick exits Marquis got the quick hook after 1.2 ineffective innings. Hudson left the game after 2+ equally poor innings, but in his case due to taking a line drive off the foot. 3. The Relievers Basically, their crew was better than ours. Gallagher pitched well in his first MLB performance, save an opposite field wall-scraping HR by Renteria. But Peter Moylan shut us down for 3 innings, and three others contributed for a scoreless inning each. Eyre pitched a couple of innings as he continues to try to work out the kinks. They need some more work, as he didn't have much control. The long-awaited resumption of observational goodness, below.
And now, for something entirely different...
W - Marshall (1-2), peace, tranquility, serenity and harmony
L - Cormier (0-1), discord, strife, turmoil and conflict
Things to take from the game:
1. No ejections, fights, ugly fan behavior, beanings, plague, pestilence, blown calls, or anything. Nothing.
2. The first inning
The Cubs half of the first featured a couple of typical Cubs plays. On a base hit to ride, Quade held Pie at third instead of testing Francouer's arm, which seemed unfortunate when Francouer then bobbled the ball. Then, Jones hit a bouncer that appeard headed for right field and an RBI, when the ball bounced into Aramis as he attempted to hurdle it. There's one we haven't seen yet, this year. Dead ball, Aramis out, Pie has to stay at third.
Any other day, this would have been another wasted inning. Today, however, DeRosa picks us up with a two-out Grand Slam. By the third inning, we were on the good side of a blowout.
3. Marshall continues to pitch well
Very well. Lots of first-pitch strikes, a sharp curve, good fastball, and really no trouble at all until the seventh, his final inning. 8 K and 1 BB.
4. The top of the order
Soriano had a homer and a triple. Pie went 2 for 5, including an all-speed double. Lee went 3 for 5 with a HR. Between then, they scored 7 runs. Ramirez and Jones also had a couple of hits, to boot.
All the happy details, below.
One to forget on Memorial weekend
W -Billingsley (3-0), finding ways to lose
L -Guzman (0-1), finding ways to win
Things to take from the game
1. Second Guessing
It's been a good day for the armchair managers. Let's see:
- Lou pulls Hill, who has thrown 66 pitches in 6 shutout innings, so that Ward can pinch-hit with a runner on second and two outs in a 0-0 game. Doesn't work.
- Lou asked Barrett, hitting fourth and with no sac. bunts on the year, to bunt with runners on 1st and 2nd and nobody out in a 1-0 game in the eighth. Doesn't work.
- With the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth, Lou pinch hits Aramis Ramirez for the hot-hitting Pagan, a move that requires Jones to enter the game as a defensive replacement. Doesn't work.
- Lou pulls Wuertz, after an effective seventh, for Eyre, who hasn't pitched in a week, to start the eighth. Doesn't work. (Eyre gives up HR to Ethier, tying the game)
W -Seanez (2-0), Fate
L - Ohman (0-2), faith in a benevolent creator
S - Saito (15)
Things to take from this game:
1. The Magnificent Seventh
It isn't just that we came back from a 5-1 deficit with a seven run outburst. It's how we did it. Seemingly every hit this inning was opposite-field on controlled swings and purposefull at-bats. It was easily the most enjoyable half inning of Cubs offense all year.
2. The Execrable Eighth.
It was followed by the most frustrating inning all year. Wuertz got pulled after a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, for Howry. Howry gave up three straight line drives, and looked pretty frustrated with himself upon exiting for Ohman. Ohman faced one batter, gave up a hit, and in came Guzman who gave up the lead. Five straight hits, total, to start the inning.
3. Take Jeff Kent. Please.
Kent had four RBIs off of Lilly, and also arguably the hardest hit ball, all night, which wound up being just a fly out to the center field wall in the heavy LA night. At least he flubbed an easy double play attempt.
It's sort of a small thing to focus on, but Derrek Lee got picked off of second, the play after doubling in the tying run in the seventh. Without that, we would have had one more run, and, conceivably, a tie game after nine
5. Soriano feeling better?
He misplayed a ball in the outfield, but at least Soriano looked like an offensive force, today. He took third on the throw after an RBI double, and seemed to look good doing it. Three hits, two RBI and two runs scored out of the leadoff spot.
The details, in all their triumph and tragedy, follow.
Aww, Hell's Bells.
I stayed up for this?
W - Massett (2-1), Joe West's ego, infield drying compound stock-owners.
L - Zambrano (4-4), Joe West, Soriano's legs, brooms.
Things to take from this game
1. Just a couple of bad innings
It's not much consolation, but Z actually looked good for most of the game. He totally lost it in the seventh, we didn't get him out of the game soon enough, and Cotts couldn't pitch out of the jam. (That AJ guy brought in four runs with one swing of the bat.) But other than thatinning and the third, Z actually looked sharp to me.
2. 2 out RISP
Barrett had a couple missed opportunities to knock in some 2-out runs. In the grand scheme of things, it wound up being the least of our problems, but at the time it seemed consequential. Sox had far, far more LOB, by the end of things.
3. Sox pitching
Massett looked shakey in the first, but settled down to give up only 3 hits and 2 runs through 5 and two thirds. The Sox bullpen didn't allow a hit until a Theriot single in the eighth.
4. What's up with Soriano?
At this point, I'm convinced that either Soriano isn't healthy, or he isn't hustling. Either way, it's noticable affecting his on-field play. (FWIW, my guess is this is health-related.)
5. Joe West strikes again
With West and Bucknor in this umpire crew, we should have set up a pool for whom would eject whom, and why and when. Answer winds up being West ejects Floyd in the bottom of the 9th, over balls and strikes, and West's inability to distinguish the one from the other.
More interesting observations than you can handle, below.