The Nightly News: Cubs Beat Crew in ESPN Game
Highlights, lowlights and other observations from the Cubs' 8-5 win over the Brewers Sunday night in Milwaukee, a victory that leaves the Cubs at 4-2 as they return home for the Wrigley Field opener on Monday afternoon.
"We've Seen This Movie Before" Moment of the Night:
In his first at-bat since beating the Brewers with a dramatic, ninth-inning home run on Saturday, Alfonso Soriano crushed Jeff Suppan's first pitch of the game over the centerfield wall, his fourth HR in the young season.
Play of the Night:
Reed Johnson's leaping catch to rob Prince Fielder of what would have been a game-tying grand slam in the bottom of the fifth. Instead Fielder wound up with a sac fly and a reason to tip his helmet to Reed Johnson.
Incongruous Inning Total of the Night:
Four runs on one hit—what the Cubs compiled in the top of the fourth, when they combined a Ryan Theriot single with a hit by pitch and five walks to turn a 1-1 tie into a 5-1 lead. All four of the runs scored on bases loaded walks.
Escape Artist of the Night:
Cubs starter Ryan Dempster, who yielded six hits and three walks and threw 110 pitches over six innings, but still emerged as a winner.
Erroneous Former Cub Mention of the Night:
When Mike Fontenot batted for the first time, Jon Miller called him Ray Fontenot. When Fontenot next batted, Miller corrected himself, explaining that Ray was a southpaw who used to play for the Yankees. What Miller failed to acknowledge was the lefthander's one inglorious season for our very own Cubs.
Box score line of the night:
(Combined pitching line for Brewers pitchers Suppan, Julio, McClung, and Stetter.)
Milton Bradley appeared to pull up lame on his way into third base following what should have been a run-scoring single by Ryan Theriot in the top of the fourth. Five games and four innings into his Chicago Cub career, Bradley was lifted from the game with an apparent injury and was replaced by Johnson, which, all things considered (see "Play of the Night" above), worked out pretty well.
Update (from Paul Sullivan in the Tribune):
The Cubs said Bradley had strained his right groin, which he apparently
aggravated while taking extra batting practice. Piniella said Bradley
would miss Monday's home opener. His status is day-to-day.
Instant Redemption of the Night:
After taking too long to throw to first and allowing Fielder to reach base in the last of the third, Mike Fontenot made a diving stop of a scalding one-hopper by the very next hitter, J.J. Hardy, to get the Cubs out of the inning.
Announcer Exchange of the Night:
Steve Phillips offered a reasoned, frequently heard argument for moving Alfonso Soriano down in the Cub lineup. Joe Morgan's response, which he repeated about five times, was that it takes a certain mindset to hit in the RBI positions in the lineup and anyway, Lou Piniella had tried moving Soriano down in the lineup previously and the experiment simply didn't work. For the record, in his previous two seasons with the Cubs, Soriano has started a total of 230 games in the leadoff spot; 11 games in other spots in the order (just 2 last season). If this qualifies as trying Soriano elsewhere in the lineup, it does so just barely.
Joe Morgan Circular Logic Example of the Night:
After the announcing trio endorsed the value of OPS, Morgan explained that the reason we know OPS is a valid statistic is that the best player, Albert Pujols, had the highest OPS last year.
Mascot Close-Up of the Night:
ESPN cameras caught Bernie Brewer just as Reed Johnson robbed Fielder of what would have been his first career grand slam. Though Bernie's giant mascot face continued to flash that permanent grin, his body language and arm flailing screamed, "Goddamnit!" or whatever they say in Milwaukee these days when they're desperately disappointed.