June 2007

If you missed that game, you'll be regretting it. Rich Hill spots the Brewers five runs in the first and then him and the bullpen combine to shut the Brewers the rest of the way as the offense chips away slowly at the lead. All to set up a 3-run ninth inning rally with a walk-off homer by Aramis Ramiez. 7 straight wins, six and a half games back and back to .500. Baseball is fun again.
Game Chat Yovani Gallardo vs. Rich Hill Lineups:
Hart RF Soriano LF
Hardy SS Fontenot SS
Braun 3B Lee 1B
Fielder 1B Ramirez 3B
Hall CF Floyd RF
Estrada C DeRosa 2B
Mench LF Bowen C
Weeks 2B Pie CF
Gallardo P Hill P
cubs_brewers.jpg This is as exciting as it's gotten around these parts in awhile. The Cubs are riding a hot streak winning their last six games and seven of their last ten games as they head into their most crucial series of the season. The Brew Crew are even hotter though, winning three straight and eight of their last ten. And while the Brewers stand seven and a half games ahead and probably look at us like a bug on the windshield in their drive towards the NL Central crown, a third straight series sweep by the Cubs might get them to drive off the road. Two of three will at least get them to start swerving a bit. I'll put up the game thread in just a few, but let's take a look at how the "top" 2 teams in the Central rank against each other. The Cubs lead the season series 5-4.
Category Brewers Cubs
Runs Scored 381 (3rd) 354 (6th)
Runs Allowed 339 (6th) 323 (5th)
Team Defensive Efficiency .700 (7th) .721 (2nd)
Starters ERA 4.24 (7th) 3.80 (3rd)
Relievers ERA 3.47 (3rd) 4.11 (9th)
Batting Average .267 (5th) .270 (1st)
On-Base Percentage .333 (5th) .330 (7th)
Slugging Percentage .455 (1st) .421 (5th)
Recently TCR had the chance to review a DVD set commemorating great Cubs games since 1984. It seemed like something worth writing about on an off day. We’ve been looking for new fodder anyway—it gets SO monotonous covering a team that always wins. I remember the first time I came across ESPN Classic. I was clicking through the channels in a hotel room when I discovered it, and the thought that a whole cable channel could devote itself to showing historically significant games much as they were originally broadcast seemed too good to be true. After a few minutes, however, the novelty of seeing Willie Stargell and Steve Blass in a 1971 World Series game called by Curt Gowdy was outweighed by the tedium of waiting to see the game’s signature moment. In short order, I was back to grazing the cablescape in search of a Shannon Tweed movie on Cinemax. So it is with a handsomely packaged set of DVDs awkwardly entitled, “Chicago Cubs Legends Great Games Collector’s Edition” (CCLGGCE for short). The eight-disc collection was produced by A&E Home Video and Major League Baseball, and each disc presents one Cubs game from the past 23 years in its commercial-free entirety, some games more truly significant than others.
The Cubs continue to go with an 11-man pitching staff (six-man bullpen), but with a stretch of ten consecutive games looming starting tomorrow, and with hot and humid weather now a factor affecting the stamina of Cubs starting pitchers (Zambrano said he was sapped by the second inning yesterday), it seems very unlikely that Lou Piniella will want to go with a "short" (six-man) bullpen through the weekend. Trading Jacque Jones was supposed to be the method used to open up a spot on the 25-man roster for the 12th pitcher, but now it appears JJ might not be going anywhere anytime soon. So if Uncle Lou does indeed believe he needs a seven-man bullpen (and 12-man pitching staff), what move will the Cubs make to clear a spot for the 12th pitcher?
Good grief, you guys are verbose. Just for the sake of refreshing things, here's a new thread. Some random questions you can ignore, below...
Game Chat Jason Hirsh vs. Carlos Zambrano Lineups:
Sullivan CF Soriano LF
Matsui 2B Fontenot 2B
Holliday LF Lee 1B
Helton 1B Floyd RF
Atkins 3B Pagan CF
Hawpe RF DeRosa 3B
Tulowitszki SS Hill C
Torrealba C Theriot SS
Hirsh P Zambrano P
Game Chat Rodrigo Lopez vs. Ted Lilly Lineups:
Taveras CF Soriano LF
Tulowitszki SS Fontenot SS
Holliday LF Lee 1B
Helton 1B Ramirez 3B
Atkins RF Floyd RF
Spillborghs RF DeRosa 2B
Iannetta C Hill C
Carroll 2B Pie CF
Lopez P Lilly P
It's been all over the interweb the last hour or so, but we have our first reputable publication quoting a "National League source". So it's Jones and a "trunk load of the Cubs' money" to the Florida Marlins. The message boards are claiming the Cubs will get a pitcher from Single-A Greensboro. Stay tuned for updates. UPDATE: We've got 2 sources saying the deal has expanded to Jacque Jones, a PTBNL and about a $1 million in cash for a pitcher from Greensboro. Speculation surrounds lefty Graham Taylor at the moment. UPDATE #2: Ken Rosenthal says the deal has hit a "major snag" and speculates it could be about how much the Cubs will fork over in cash. UPDATE #3: Rosenthal says the deal is off, "barring an unexpected reversal". Boo!!!!
The Cubs open audition for their bullpen continues as Billy Petrick is en route to Chicago for tonight's game (I believe the poster "insidetheivy" is the editor Steve Holley so I trust the source). The subsequent roster moves have yet to be announced, speculation has centered on Jacque Jones getting traded (oh please, oh please), Dempster getting put on the DL and a possible demotion of Angel Pagan or Ryan Theriot although either of those seem highly unlikely. Petrick was a third round pick in 2002 who's battled all sorts of injuries throughout his career. He's found his way and his health so far in AA, posting a 2.37 ERA in 30.1 IP, 33 K's and 8 BB's. AZ PHIL: As recently as 2005, Baseball America had Billy Petrick rated as the Cubs #5 prospect (overall), and their #2 pitching prospect (behind only Angel Guzman). However, Petrick suffered a season-ending shoulder injury at Daytona fairly early in the '05 season, and missed the rest of '05 and most of '06 while rehabbing at Fitch Park. Like so many other Cubs pitching prospects who had their careers ended by shoulder problems, Petrick's future looked dim. However, he was moved to the bullpen this past Spring Training, and (somewhat magically) returned to at least somewhere close to his 2004 form. No longer a stud starting pitcher. the 23-year old 6'6 240+ Petrick has evolved into a quality relief pitcher, beginning the 2007 season at Daytona, before receiving a promotion to AA Tennessee. Petrick pounds the strike zone with a "heavy" 90-93 MPH sinker, and he led the MWL in fewest HR allowed per AB in 2004. He has allowed just 13 HR in 375 career minor league innings. In his last seven games at AA Tennessee, Petrick allowed just four hits and four walks in 12.1 IP, with 18 K.


Game Center, Play by Play, Box Score, Photos

W- Howry (4-4) Wrigley security workers. Former LSU tigers. Soriano. Derosa. Pagan. Saving potential scapegoats from scapegoatdom. Fans who stayed for the bottom of the ninth. Darn near everyone.

L- Fuentes (0-2 ) Doom and Gloom. Loser fanatics who think being famous and tough is all about trying to blindside a pro athlete in the middle of game.

Things to take from this game Where to start..... 1. The 9th inning. (part 1) 8 runs crossed the plate in the ninth. Six of there were for Colorado, but the final two to cross were the ones that mattered most. In a questionable effort to relieve a strained bullpen, Eyre came out to start the ninth, up 8-3, after pitching an effective 1.1 innings. The first three batters reached,Howry came in, three more batters reached, capped by a go-ahead home run by Troy Tulowitzki. Six batters, six runs, without an out registered. 2. The Ninth Inning (part 2) Some jackass got within a couple feet of blind-siding Howry with a full head-on sprint, after the home run. Some member of the Wrigley security crew earned his paycheck, spearing the clown at just about the last possible moment. Len reminds us it's a felony charge, not to mention, I presume, permanent banishment from Wrigley. 3. The Ninth Inning (part 3) They weren't rockets, but Derosa and Koyie Hill singled. By the time we exchanged pinch runners and runners forced, you have Jacques Jones standing on second, Hill on first, with two outs. Theriot hits the game-ending grounder to second, which Kaz Matsui boots into a game-continuing error. Bases loaded for Soriano, who delivers the come-from-behind, game-winning, two-run single. 4. That Scrappy LSU Middle Infield and other Heroes. Fontenot went 5 for 5 and now has hits in seven consecutive at bats. Theriort, entering the game on a double-switch, went 2 for 3, with the one "out" being the Matsui boot. They also turned a nice double-play. They scored 4 runs, total, while Derosa scratched out the ugliest 3 RBI you could hope to get, and Angel Pagan smoked a three run HR, back when this looked like it would be an easy victory.... 5. The Response The fans booed Eyre as he was pulled in the ninth, unfortunate given that he'd had a solid outing, until being left in for another inning. By the time Howry was done giving up the lead after that, the mood was predictably glum. But wow, the reaction when Soriano hit that single.... The comedy-free details, below!
Game Chat Jeff Francis vs. Jason Marquis Lineups:
Taveras CF Soriano LF
Matsui 2B Fontenot 2B
Holliday LF Lee 1B
Helton 1B Ramirez 3B
Atkins RF DeRosa RF
Hawpe RF Pagan CF
Tulowitzki SS Bowen C
Torrealba C Izturis SS
Francis P Marquis P
Congrats to Alfonso Soriano on his NL Player of the Week honors.

Well, it's time once again to dip into the mailbag and answer questions submitted by you, the fine readers and commenters at TCR. Let's see what's on your mind, and what I can do about it.

Dear Transmission,

For the last three and a half years, I was involved in an emotionally intense relationship with another man. You could cut the tension between us with a knife, but we always made it work, thanks to some wild but truly epic games of pitch and catch. In the last few months, however, well, it wasn't so good anymore. He'd go out when I'd want in, or I'd go down when he was expecting up. Things came to blows a few weeks ago, and while I've always had a temper, this was the first time that I ever hit him! I feel horrible about what I've done, but now, I'm afraid that I've driven him away for good. I think I've even driven him to "switch teams." Please help me, Trans, I'd do anything to get him back.

Buddy Is Gone, i'm a Zero.

Dear "BIG Z,"

Word has been slowly leaking out all morning, and now the news has just crawled across ESPN News, so we'll run it, here: Beloved relief ace and former Chicago Cubs pitcher Rod Beck has died at the age of 38. No cause of death has yet been reported. Rod arguably is the most popular Cubs player to have spent less than two full seasons on this team. In 1998, he and Terry Mullholland seemingly pitched every day of August and September, helping the Cubs into the playoffs. For instance, he appeared on August 30th, 31st, September 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th, recording a save each time. He then pitched September 10th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 16th, and17th, with two wins and 4 saves. 35 times that year he pitched on no days of rest. He led the league in appearances that year, his 51 saves were a career high, although only good for second that year in the NL. He also led the world in grit-per-pitch. His 51st save was on September 28th, the 163rd game of the season, sending us to the playoffs as the NL Wild Card representative. Rod attempted a comeback with the Cubs in 2003, but failed to make the major league team. He spent April and May with the Iowa Cubs, living out of his camper trailer, which he parked behind center-field and from which he would host fans after the game. The Cubs released him at the end of May; he quickly signed on with the Padres, who had lost Trevor Hoffman to injury, and proceded to save 20 games with a sub-2 ERA. It proved to be the last in a seemingly unending series of improbable escapes and comebacks. On a personal note, Rod was my favorite Cubs player of the 1990s and beyond. From 2002 onward, my fantasy baseball teams and leagues have all used his name. As a guy who has never quite fit the mold myself, I loved the wild mullet from the Giants period, the fu manchu, the right arm dangling as if dead, swaying like a pendulum at his side when he stood on the mound, the beer belly, and his unending ability to reinvent himself as a pitcher, in order to continue to get batters out. The best eulogy you could hope to read about Beck comes from a lengthy ESPN article done during his Iowa Cubs period. Read it, here. Please humor me, and save the usual TCR game-related fodder, at least for awhile, to the game thread below this one.
Game Chat Sean Marshall vs. Jose Contreras Lineups:
Soriano LF Podsednik LF
Fontenot 2B Gonzalez RF
Lee 1B Thome DH
Ramirez DH Konerko 1B
Floyd RF Pierzynski C
Pagan CF Iguchi 2B
DeRosa 3B Fields 3B
Hill C Terrero CF
Izturis SS Uribe SS
I didn't get to see yesterday's victory, but the Yahoo play-by-play and box score made it appear like we played a good, fundamentally sound game. I mean, a one-run win on a suicide squeeze, good starting pitching, solid bullpen work, an outfield assist and three hits by Cesar Izturis. And I'm in no mood to wake up from my daydream, so let me keep believing that we actually played a good game. As for this Rich Hill character, he seems to have one very troubling problem..... The San Diego Padres. Rich vs the Padres: 9 IP, 10.00 ERA, 7 HR Rich vs. the Rest of Baseball: 86 IP, 2.42 ERA, 8 HR And that second number even includes two less than spectacular outings versus the best offense in the NL (Phillies) and the East's best New York Mets who were second in runs scored when Hill faced them. Some trade rumors after the jump...
Game Chat Carlos Zambrano vs. Mark Buehrle Lineups:
Soriano LF Erstad CF
Fontenot 2B Iguchi 2B
Lee 1B Thome DH
Ramirez DH Konerko 1B
DeRosa 3B Pierzynski C
Bowen C Dye RF
Pagan RF Mackowiak LF
Pie CF Fields 3B
Izturis SS Uribe SS
The Cubs have optioned Sean Gallagher to AAA to make room for Aramis Ramirez being activated off the DL. This will put the Cubs down to 11 pitchers in the meantime and don’t be surprised by another roster move come Monday to get the team back up to 12 pitchers when National League play starts again.
Road to Wrigley recaps the best thing to happen to the Chicago Cubs organization on Thursday.
Game Chat Ted Lilly (5-4, 3.69) vs. Vicente Padilla (3-8, 6.57) Longtime American Leaguer Lilly is 4-4 lifetime against the Rangers, 1-1 last year as a Blue Jay. Padilla, the former Phillie, is 3-4, 4.40 lifetime against the Cubs, though no current Cub hitter has done much against him (D-Lee, 4-for-20; DeRosa, 3-for-16). Beginning with Tuesday night's series opener, 20 of the Cubs' next 26 games were/are against teams with sub-.500 records. Hard to slice it any other way--it's a drag to be coming into this game hoping to merely take two of three instead of trying to complete a sweep. Plus it was hell last night having to watch all of those clips of Good Sammy at the post-game press conference, spreading happiness and light.
(Quick aside before I get to the Game Thread: The Barrett-inspired post below triggered almost 300 comments! Just wait until we fall out of the race and trade Zambrano to the Mets. We'll blow the MVN server all to hell!) Game Chat Jason Marquis (5-3, 3.14) vs. Kameron Loe (2-6, 6.56) It was a good news/bad news day for Michael Barrett. Good news: Barrett was traded to a first-place team in a desirable city with heavenly weather. Bad news: Barrett won’t get to hit against the Rangers’ Loe, he of the 838 OPS Against. Loe was sent to AAA Oklahoma City in early June after a start against the Tigers in which he allowed nine runs over just 2 2/3 innings. He returned to the bigs last Thursday, throwing eight shutout innings against the Pirates (which probably says more about the difference between the Tigers and the Pirates than about what Loe learned at Oklahoma City). Marquis is 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA in his last seven starts and hasn’t won a game since May 9th. On the other hand, nobody’s talking about inserting an arthroscope in his shoulder.
Buster Olney of ESPN is reporting that the Cubs have traded catcher Michael Barrett to the Padres in exchange for catcher Rob Bowen, a minor league pitcher and cash. Steve Stone, appearing on the Mike North Show (WSCR Radio in Chicago), at 9:00 a.m. local time, confirmed that Barrett was being traded, saying he (Stone) had spoken to a friend who had gotten off the phone with Barrett just minutes before. Stone also said that a source told him the Cubs had become "frustrated" with Barrett's inability to improve his defense over the past couple weeks, which led Stone to infer that the team was pursuing a deal. Stone pointed out that Jim Hendry avidly pursued Barrett during the catcher's years with the Expos and that Cubs player personnel exec Gary Hughes was also a huge Barrett supporter, having drafted him when Hughes was employed in Montreal. Mike North further reported that according to rumors that WSCR was hearing, the Cubs would be receiving Bowen and set-up man Scott Linebrink in return (different than what Olney's sources told him). Obviously, acquiring Linebrink in the swap would make the deal much more attractive from the Cubs' point of view. UPDATE (Rob G.): Olney got it right and the prospect is 19 yr old outfielder Kyler Burke, who you can read about over at "Road to Wrigley". As for our new catcher, Rob Bowen, a few scouting reports, the first from Sportsnet:
Assets: A switch-hitting catcher who excels from the left side, showing decent power. He's an above-average defensive catcher, able to block and throw very well. Flaws: He's a weak hitter from the right side and generally lacks discipline at the plate. Career potential: Good backup catcher who can be a No. 1 if needed.
And a 2004 scouting report from Baseball America I pulled off a message board:
He is solid defensively and is very agile behind the plate. He has a plus arm and has a quick release. He is also very adept at blocking balls in the dirt. Offensively, he has natural loft in his swing, which should lead to power potential. He is a switch hitter, but scouts like him better from the left side.
Essentially the Cubs are taking another shot at a raw player on the right side of 30. His caught stealing rates are pretty bad over the last few years but those can depend a lot on your pitching staff. Offensively, at least he can take a walk. At worst, we've got a much better #2 catcher as Henry Blanco's career looks in jeopardy. At best, Bowen finds his groove and we've got a relatively cheap new #1 catcher for the next three years.
(Sorry--this was to have gone up 90 minutes ago. Pretend it's then.) Game chat Sean Marshall (3-2, 2.12) v. Robinson Tejeda (5-7, 6.49) Lou’s Fight Club resumes interleague play Tuesday night with the first of three games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, formerly known as Ameriquest Field, formerly formerly known as the Ballpark At Arlington. A couple things about the place haven’t changed over the years. It’s hot. And lots of runs are scored there. Rightfield and the right-centerfield alley are especially home run-friendly territory. Marshall, who beat the Mariners for his third straight win last Wednesday and has held opposing hitters to a .216 AVG this season, has never pitched against the Rangers. Tejeda, meanwhile, has one career start against the Cubs, back in ’05 when he was a Phillie (6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, no decision). Other notes: Rangers SS Michael Young has the highest batting average in the history of interleague play, .348 (min. 300 PA). Also, DH/RF Sammy Sosa has mashed lefties this year--.347 AVG with 17 RBI in just 49 AB, 1.092 OPS. Sosa, you may recall, used to play for the White Sox.
....as was Chris Young. Both players were fined as well. Lee will file an appeal today delaying his suspension hopefully long enough until Aramis Ramirez returns from the disabled list. Hitting coach Gerald Perry was suspended for 3 games and cannot appeal his suspension. Jake Peavy and Brian Giles were both fined an undisclosed amount. Go Sammy! (send hate mail to [email protected])
I had the incredible good fortune to watch Saturday’s Cubs-Padres game from the second row behind home plate, from a seat in nearly a direct line with the plate and the left field corner. In other words, I was about 25-30 feet from much of the brouhaha. (I have seen myself in the ESPN replays of the brawl. I’m wearing a light green polo shirt and I’m right behind the woman with the white shirt and the white hat who appears in the left part of the screen just after Derrek Lee throws the first punch.) A few thoughts on a remarkable game as seen from a perspective I won't enjoy again anytime soon:

(With all respect for, and apologies to, Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven")

The Billy Goat

Once upon an evening dreary, while I watched a sad conspiracy -

One of many cruel and curious volumes of Chicago lore,

While I nodded, nearly snoozing, modestly I started musing

at their newfound ways of losing, losing at victory's door.

"'Tis the manager," I muttered, "balking at victory's door -

Only this, and nothing more."


Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak September,

And each separate stranded runner wrought its ghost upon the floor.

Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow

From the blogs surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Prior -

for the rare and radiant pitcher whom the angels named Prior -

Nameless here for evermore


And the doughy visage leaning from the dugout's edge

Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating

"Is that some manager entreating that we walk through victory's door?

Some old manager entreating that we walk through victory's door?

Could this be, so help me lord?"


Game chat Rich Hill (5-4, 2.81) vs. Greg Maddux (5-3, 3.86) This will be Maddux’s second start against the Cubs since he donned the blue and gold and brown and tan or whatever the hell the Padres’ colors are. The Mad Dog threw five innings in Wrigley back on April 17th, coughing up a 3-1 lead and settling for a no-decision in a game the Pads would eventually win in 14 innings. By the way, since Jim Hendry shipped Maddux west last July 31st, the now 41-year-old Hall-of-Famer-to-be has gone 11-6, 3.59. With a win, Hill will equal his victory total for 2006. The young lefty is coming off a no-decision Tuesday against the Mariners, in which he had a very spirited and well chronicled dugout discussion with his catcher, Michael Barrett. I hope someone has spoken to Hill since then. He needs to know that displays of raw emotion are simply not the Cub Way.

Photos, Play by Play, Box Score, Recap, Game Center

First off, I didn't see the incident happen and wasn't planning to do a recap today. That said, here's a good effort at reconstructing what happened by watching all the replays. Eye-witnesses, please fill in the details in the comments.

So we know that the Padres were upset with Soriano's extended admiration of his home run, yesterday. Beyond that, I'm unaware of any other bad-blood between the teams. In the fourth, Chris Young goes up and in on Lee, knocking him down. The pitch hit him up high, I'm not quite sure where. It didn't hit flush, but obviously, fastballs near the head are always potential matters of life and death. While the home plate ump is busy talking with Padres catcher Rob Bowen, Lee starts walking towards first, but well on the infield grass, several feet in fair territory. He and Young start jawing. Early speculation from parachat suggests that Young was telling him to just take his base, and they were arguing over whether or not Young was deliberately pitching high and tight to Lee. Young appeared to laugh and motion at his cup (from my view of the replay) and Lee charged him, threw a haymaker right, missing. Young also missed with his haymaker (is there no ballplayer, today, who knows how to throw a real punch, not of the haymaker and sucker variety?) and like that, both benches clear. Marcus Giles was the first to arrive, sprinting in when he saw what was developing. Giles, all five foot three, ninety pounds of him, tries to tackle his own pitcher, the seven-foot five Young, very much Farnsworth-to-Wilson style. Instead of a tackle, Giles just manages to back Young off from the fray. LouPa was right behind Giles to the scene, and used his ample posterior to box out Lee. Lou might have a future in a senior basketball league. Zambrano came out, I'm told with his uniform undone and belt off, probably due to being, ah, back in the clubhouse. Peavy also came out, and Jake got ejected for his participation in the brawl. So did Gerald Perry. I have not yet seen footage of Z's, Jake's or Gerald's role in the fight. We continue with so much more, below...
Game chat Carlos Zambrano v. Chris Young Ten days ago, Z (7-5, 4.89) declared he was starting the season anew. In the two starts since, against Milwaukee and Houston, he has allowed just eight hits and two earned runs over 14 2/3 innings (1.23 ERA) and earned two victories. Also, after clubbing a home run against the Astros Monday night, his second of the year, Carlos is just one short of Fergie Jenkins’ all-time Cub record for career HRs by a pitcher (13). Chris Young (6-3, 2.34) is very good. When he pitched against the Cubs on May 24th in San Diego, he looked very, very good, striking out a season-high 10 batters and allowing just three hits. Young wound up with a no-decision, however, and the Cubs wound up winning the game after scoring twice in the ninth inning against the Padre bullpen.
Can't do a full recap today, but as you probably know, there were a couple cases of fan interference in the OF bleachers today. In the first case, Lee hit a ball to the point in LF where the "well" begins, and the home run basket sort of goes upward and back, at an angle. A fan grabbed hold of a railing, leaned out, and caught what he clearly thought was already a HR, on its way into the basket. The umpire ruled, however, that the ball was still in play when the fan touched it and since it wasn't interference with an on-field defensive opportunity, it was declared a double. Upon further review (and it took several reviews, and a blown-up image), the umps made the correct call. The ball was going to fall into the field of play, it wasn't a HR. The interference didn't hurt the outcome of the play. (Although conceivably, if he had managed to make the catch, perhaps the umps could have been fooled into calling it a home run, a la Jeffery Maier?) (Now that I look, Cubster has already nailed this, in the message board of the previous thread. But it's worth putting on the big board.) For his efforts, the fan was removed from the game. The more important interference came a half-inning later, on a high fly ball to the RF wall. With Cliff Floyd settling under it in an effort to make a leaping catch, another fan leans out, knicks the ball, deflecting it enough to foul up Floyd's effort to make the catch. The Umps miss this one.   Adrian Gonzalez gets a triple (a run-scoring one at that) in spite of protests from Floyd and Piniella that he could have made the catch without the fan interference. The ushers make the right call, at least, and eject the guy. (With a little help from his "friends" who happily point him out.) And a half inning after THAT, Fontenot hits a HR into the Basket. Once more, a fan makes a lunge for it. Hooray for crocodile arms, as the guy misses, and it clearly bounces in and out of the basket. Conclusions:
  1. Seeing a baseball come near you short-circuits the reasoning process in most all fans
  2. Therefore, run an electric current through the HR basket.
Game Chat Ted Lilly (4-4, 3.96) v. David Wells (3-3, 4.76) After taking the Mariners two out of three, the Cubs have climbed to within five games of .500. It’s hardly the sort of accomplishment Cub fans dreamed of this past off-season, but still, it’s the first time the team has been this close to breakeven since May 28th. This will be Lilly's first start since umpire Jim Wolf read his mind, saw dark intentions and tossed him, just two outs into the bottom of the first inning in Atlanta. The Padres, who ended a season-high, four-game losing streak on Wednesday, lead the season series 3-2. The teams split a pair at Wrigley back in mid-April. On a personal note, I will attending today’s game in lower deck seats along the third-base line. I’ll be the middle-aged white guy seated with three other middle-aged white guys. See if you can spot me.

Unlikely Heroes

Game Center, Play by Play, Box Score, Photos

W- Howry (3-3), the Cubs Bullpen, light-hitting shortstops L- Morrow (3-1), finger-wagging Things to take from this game 1. Good Bullpen Work Marquis pitched well enough through 5, got in trouble in the sixth, and wound up getting pulled after Ibanez hit a three-run double. Wuertz, followed by Marmol, Rapada and Howry, slammed the door, allowing the Cubs to come back late. Howry, in particular, looked very good in the eighth and ninth 2. Scoring early, scoring late We scored three in the first off of Weaver, featuring extra-base hits by Soriano, Pie and Fontenot, as well as a Floyd single. The big play of the game, however, came in the bottom of the eighth. With runners on 2nd and 3rd and one out, down by 1, Izturis (yes, Izturis) hit a two-run, go-ahead single. Howry made it stick. 3. Odd dust-up between Jose Guillen and Tim McClellan You can read the details, below. Gotta run!
Game chat Jason Marquis vs. Jeff Weaver In the rubber game of the series, Marquis (5-3, 3.01) faces Weaver (0-6, 12.46—do not adjust your monitor; you’re actually seeing the ERA you think you’re seeing). Marquis, who only lasted an inning and two-thirds when he pitched in Atlanta last Saturday and is three starts removed from his last truly decent outing, beat the Mariners in his one game against them, back in 2004 for the Cardinals. In six games (four starts) against the Cubs, the 30-year-old Weaver is 2-0 with a 4.34 ERA. The three starters Seattle will have sent to the Wrigley Field mound this week—Washburn, Batista, and Weaver--had a combined 5.86 ERA coming into the series. It doesn’t seem much to ask for the Cubs to win two out of three.
Game Chat Sean Marshall vs. Miguel Batista In a sequel to last night’s dark comedy, the Cubs will throw young Marshall (2-2, 2.08) against the one-time Cub, Batista (7-4, 5.48). Interestingly, Marshall, coming off an excellent start in Atlanta (6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER), has identical numbers at home and on the road: 1-1, 2.08 ERA. I’m a big fan of parallelism, so if Marshall does something like, say, shuts out the Mariners for 7 or 8 innings, thus dropping his home ERA below the road number, I’m going to be furious. Though he’s won 7 games already this year, Batista has been hit hard. Opposing batters have tuned him up for a composite .301 AVG with a .361 on-base percentage. In 17 career games against his former Cub mates, his ERA is 6.27. In 1997, Batista’s one season on the North Side, he went 0-5, 5.70, i.e., a winless pitcher with a horrid ERA--a role being assumed on the 2007 team quite capably by Will Ohman and Scott Eyre.


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