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Leon Johnson drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, scoring pinch-runner Darwin Barney with the winning run, as the Cubs AZ Instructional League team edged the Oakland A's Instructional League team 5-4 this afternoon at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.
It's not only important for young Cubs players to learn the finer points of pitching, fielding, hitting, and base-running, it's also important for them to learn "Why We Fight" and which teams need to be targeted in a special way for defeat. So in what is the Arizona Instructional League version of the Windy City Classic, the Cubs defeated the White Sox 6-4 this morning at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.
Thursday was "Circus Day" on The Mickey Mouse Club, but Thursdays are "Camp Day" for the Cubs Arizona Instructional League team.   While some of you might think "Camp Day" is a day where the coaches take the Cubs players on a trip to the zoo or to the local water park, that's not exactly what it is.
In a possible preview of the World Series (well, maybe the 2015 World Series), the Cubs played the Angels this afternoon in Arizona Instructional League action at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa, and even though MLB Commissioner Bud Selig was not at the game (at least I don't think he was there), his presence was felt at the end, as the game was called after nine innings tied 1-1.
The Cubs took a 3-1 run lead early, scoring two runs in the first inning and one in the second, but were unable to hold the lead, as the Oakland A's Arizona Instructional League team rallied to defeat the Cubs Arizona Instructional League team 6-4 this afternoon at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.
While most Cubs fans were watching some stupid, meaningless, late-September game between the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field, the REAL fans were gathered at Fitch Park Field #3 in Mesa.
With Cubs manager Lou Piniella announcing that Rich Hill, Carlos Zambrano, and Ted Lilly will pitch the final three games of the regular season at Cincinnati (with Jason Marquis to pitch the Game #163 tie-breaker at Wrigley Field, if necessary), and with Pirates manager Jim Tracy announcing last night that Cub-killer Zach Duke will make his first start since June 28th on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field, the pitching match-ups for the Cubs final nine games now look like this (all still subject to change): PIT at CUBS FRI - Paul Maholm vs Jason Marquis SAT - Zach Duke vs Rich Hill SUN - Tom Gorzelanny vs Carlos Zambrano MON - OFF CUBS at FLA TUE - Ted Lilly vs Dontrelle Willis WED - Jason Marquis vs Sergio Mitre (or Scott Olsen) THU - Steve Trachsel (or Sean Marshall) vs Scott Olsen (or Byung Hyun Kim) NOTE: The Marlins are skipping Mitre's turn this weekend versus the Mets and are talking about removing Mitre from the rotation for the rest of the season, and if that happens, Willis-Olsen-Kim would be the the likely starters for the Marlins versus the Cubs next week. CUBS at CIN FRI - Rich Hill vs Bronson Arroyo SAT - Carlos Zambrano vs Aaron Harang SUN - Ted Lilly vs Tom Shearn NOTE: Lilly would be held back for first game of NLDS if Cubs have clinched by SUN. MIL at CUBS (if necessary) MON - TBD vs Jason Marquis If the Cubs win the N. L. Central (and based on the current N. L. standings)... NLDS schedule: WED 10/3 - Game #1 - CUBS at AZ THU 10/4 - Game #2 - CUBS at AZ FRI 10/5 - OFF SAT 10/6 - Game #3 - AZ at CUBS SUN 10/7 - Game #4 - AZ at CUBS (if necessary) MON 10/8 - OFF TUE 10/9 - Game #5 - CUBS at AZ (if necessary)
With two weeks left in the 2007 MLB season, the Cubs lead the Brewers by one game. The Cubs also trail the Padres by four games in the Wild Card standings, in case that becomes an issue later.
With several recent trades and other roster moves, here are the updated roster and salary projections for next off-season and 2008, as well as a list of Cubs minor leaguers assigned to the Arizona Instructional League, AFL, and HWL:
Cubs manager Lou Piniella and pitching Larry Rothschild have been talking lately about the stress and strain Cubs relievers are under this month, what with the Cubs playing twenty days in a row, the "Dog Days" of August, and the pressures of a pennant race. Both Cousin Larry and Uncle Lou have mentioned that on September 1st, bullpen reinforcements can be added, because that's when the rosters can be expanded from 25 to 40 players. And that's true. They are correct. But actually, they really don't have to wait that long...

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