2 Runs, 1 Hit...3 Runs, 2 Hits...4 Runs, 3 Hits
Pretty much everytime they flashed the boxscore last night after the 5th inning, I just had to cringe. Rich Harden continued his stampede to free agency with another brilliant effort. He held the arguably best offense in the league to....well nothing, for 5.1 innings and then gives up a walk to #8 hitter Carlos Ruiz before Jimmy Rollins sent one in the bleachers to tie what was looking like an easy victory. So while the Phils efficiently scored their first 2 runs on a hit, the Cubs managed 7 hits through the first six, a few double plays and line drives right at people and only 2 runs.
Then the 8th happened, with Lou and Marmol providing the frustration. We know players are supersitious, some won't step on the chalk line, others eat a bucket of a chicken before every game and Marmol ceremoniously walks a batter when he comes in. He looked like he might wiggle out of it after getting Greg Dobbs and a loud out to Jimmy Rollins, but then uncorked a wild pitch that missed Shane Victorino, although the umps said it hit him in the ankle. The ball was so badly thrown though that Victorino probably deserves the base just on principle. Now the Phillies had Utley, Howard and Ibanez due up. Last I checked they were lefties and the Cubs have two of them in the pen. I know Carlos Marmol has danced along this highwire act a few times, and I could even live with giving him a chance to get a struggling Chase Utley. But Lou didn't even get Grabow warmed up until he walked Utley and in the meantime, Marmol walked in the go-ahead run. Finally Lou goes to Grabow who strikes out Ibanez on three pitches. The Phils actually score their 3rd run without the benefit of a hit.
The Cubs comeback in the 9th off troubled closer Brad Lidge with a clutch walk by Fukudome to lead off the inning, a sac bunt and a single by Milton Bradley continuing his second half surge and on to extra innings we go. In the meantime Guzman pitched 2 innings of perfect ball before handing the ball to Kevin Gregg in the 11th who actually got their big 3 lefties out 1-2-3 with Sean Marshall sitting in the pen. But then the 12th happened and Gregg does what he does best, which is leave something very hittable over the heart of the plate and Ben Francisco gave the Phils their 4th and final run on just their 3rd hit with a basket home run.
The good news of the night was that Rich Harden and Milton Bradley continue their regression to the mean, and the Cards, Rockies and Giants all lost. The bad news is that Lou still seems to trust Carlos Marmol. The blind faith he has in him has to be put to an end until he can find some control which is bloody unlikely at the moment. Guzman has more than proven his worth to this point and probably won't be perfect the rest of the way, but at least he'll make the other team earn it with a hit.
Well said. On one hand, I thought the HBP was a bad baseball play -- down 4 runs, put a runner on for a red-hot Fowler. On the other hand, they needed to do something -- I hadn't thought about the warning/pitching inside point. Is Hurdle that smart? He does not strike me that way. By the way -- not clear which fan base you are referring to in your "first" 3rd point.
My unsolicited opinions on topics covered in this thread:
1. I hate the fact that after 162 games, a team could be out after 1 game. However, I think the system is pretty close to perfect right now. 2 of 3 isn't feasible unless they shorten the regular season, and it ices the division winners for way too long. This creates excitement, and rewards the division winners.
Personally, I think the game could have had a very different look had the Pirates held onto the ball and tagged Fowler out on the steal in the first. Cole was clearly frazzled, but if they took that runner off the base, it could have relaxed him a lot.
Football games are played once a week. There are 16 games a year. I'm not even remotely following at all how you can compare the two leagues and playoff systems. It is physically impossible to play a home and away series. The idea of not having any road games in baseball playoffs is certainly a head scratcher.
How is not having the first and last game at home a benefit for the division winners and team with the best record? How is it not an incentive to win the division when a WC team has to blow their top pitcher?
Call me lost.
Two 97+ win teams in a do-or-die, great bullpens, overpowering starters, plenty of pop--hard to believe that game wouldn't be tense. A 4-0 lead is not a blowout, especially in that situation and with the Cubs' young bullpen. Not only would a defensive play here or there make a difference, but you get the win there also on the home plate umps strike zone (generous strike calls for Arrieta, including a couple Ks), and on Schwarber sitting on the right pitch at the right time.
I just noticed the Dodger's payroll today. It is just absurd. $300,000,000+!!
Here is where just some of their money is for 2015:
Carl Crawford $20MM
Brandon McCarthy $17MM
Bronson Arroyo $3.5MM
Darwin B $2.2MM
Dan Haren $10MM
Matt Kemp $18MM
Brian Wilson $10MM
Ryan Webb $2.2MM
Dee Gordon $2.5MM
So I think tomorrow will be the most important test of how far we can go. We can win it all with two pitchers since Arietta has shown he can carry over his success to the post season. If Lester can be dominant also then I think we can go far no matter how Hendricks or Hammel do.
And in terms of pitching just went through to see how we could maximize Lester and Arietta and came up with this (Lester would be going on 4 days rest three times and Arietta twice):
i still can't believe that crawford contract (7/142). all that loot and years for a LF'r who's entire hitting game revolves around his legs and line-drive power. those triples that raised his value are deceptive as hell to his true power, but it helped him get paid.
there's also pause about a guy who's ob% is almost totally driven by hits rather than walks. BOS got lucky unloading that crap deal.
I think the Cubs take Berry and Soler off playoff roster and add Hammel & Ramirez. Believe Maddon will find Denorfia & Jackson defense too hard to lose.
O & B: I like the one-game Wild Card heart attack game, but I'd actually like to see a best two-out-of-three LDS played in the home parks of the two division winners with the best records, and then the LCS as a best two-out-of-three in the home park of the division winner left standing with the best record, and then let's get to the World Series already.
I...don't know. If chanting would help the Cubs beat the Cardinals in the next series or ultimately the World Series I think I'd be ok with it lol. I'm not supportive of saying insulting things to opposing fans or throwing things but loud noise and chanting seems appropriate to me.
I also grew up in France though and that kind of thing is par for the course at soccer and rugby matches and I love it. I find crowds too passive here.
Enjoyable read on David Ross.
Er, they won the first one. My bad. Carry on.
With last night's win in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have tied the Pirates with 98 wins, and are only 2-1/2 games behind the Cardinals. No reason why the Cubs can't finish the post-season with the best winning percentage in baseball (regular season & post-season combined).
BOB: I doubt very much that Matt Szczur will be on the Cubs LDS roster.
If he wasn't on the Wild Card roster (when the Cubs went with 15 position players), he won't be on the LDS roster (when the Cubs will go with 13 or 14 position players).
As it is, at least one of the three RH hitting outfielders who were on the Cubs WC roster (Denorfia, Jackson, and Soler) could get bumped off the LDS roster (probably Soler).