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Cubs-Sox. Sox-Cubs. The Crosstown Classic. The Red Line Rumble. North vs. South. The Mullets vs. the caramel Macchiatos. Whatever you want to call it, let's get this hate-fest going. This series brings out the worst in everyone in the city. But that's why it's so fun. Round 1: Wrigley Field on Chicago's North Side.
Both teams are coming off losses. The Cubs had a split decision in Cincinnati yesterday, while the Sox, well, let's just say at least no blood was shed in that ugly loss to the Red Sox.
These teams don't like each other. The fans detest one another. And, hey, Jose Hernandez is back.
We'll have baseball soon for those of you stuck at work like us. Hopefully, this play by play will be of some help.
Lefty Shawn Estes takes the hill for the Cubs; former Cubs first-round draft pick Jon Garland for the Sox. Not to bring up painful memories for Cubs fans, but it has to be said: Jon Garland for Matt Karchner, who's probably cutting Ed Lynch's lawn at this moment.
The Messmers sing a fine rendition of the anthem and it looks like the wind is blowing in gently from center field. Let's get this going. And not one word on David Beckham's move to Real Madrid.
Tony Graffanino leads off for the Sox and Estes starts him with a called strike. Graffanino grounds to Alex Gonzalez for the first out. And here's the president of the South Side Sammy Sosa Fan Club, Jose Valentin. Valentin draws a walk and the rejuvenated Frank Thomas digs in. Speaking of Beckham, Estes' sweeping curveball would make the English one-footed wonder proud. Unfortunately he can't spot it. Thomas walks and it's Magglio Ordonez's turn. Maggs drops a single into left-center, driving in Valentin. Thomas loafs to second. First and second for Cubs killer Carlos Lee. He's hitting .404 lifetime at Wrigley. With apologies to Hawk Harrelson, mercy. Estes can't find the plate at all. The count goes full. Lee pops one behind first and Eric Karros, stepping gingerly over the bullpen, makes an over-the-shoulder catch and quickly throws to third.
This inning is taking so long, I have to start a new paragraph. Estes throws two straight balls to third baseman Joe Crede, but comes back to even the count. Sometimes you get the feeling if Estes weren't left-handed, he'd be selling peanuts. Ball four to Crede looked like a ceremonial first pitch. The bases are loaded for Aaron Rowand and the count goes full. Ball four. Everyone move up one base. The Cubs' bullpen stirs and Todd Wellemeyer readies for some serious long relief. Estes throws a called strike to catcher Miguel Olivo prompting sarcastic cheers. Grand slam. You could see that driving up Waveland. Guy can't find the plate at all, so eventually he's going to groove one. Big-time meatball. And Estes still can't find the plate. 51 pitches and counting. The 52nd pitch is a slow roller to Grudzielanek and Estes exits to much booing. He might as well walk straight to his car in the parking lot.
Sox 6, Cubs 0
Whew. OK, let's see: fifty-two pitches, four walks, one grand slam.
So, Jon Garland starts with a comfortable lead and Grudzielanek grounds out on the second pitch. The Cubs get one back on a big fly by Alex Gonzalez that got out in a hurry. Patterson hits one on the ground that's eaten up by the US Open rough and he's thrown out easily. Sosa steps in and the Sox fans in attendance let him have it. Garland wants no part of Sosa and walks him. Alou lines out to Lee in left.
Sox 6, Cubs 1
There's no possible way Estes comes out for the second inning. One could argue you could yank him on pitch count alone. Wellemeyer picks right up where Estes left off, throwing three straight balls well out of the strikezone. Graffanino flies out to Sosa, who makes it interesting fighting the sun out there in right. Wellemeyer blows it by Valentin and the Cubs are appealing for a mulligan on the first inning. Thomas rips one down the left-field line for a double. This dude is really hitting now. Ordonez walks and Cubs fan readers are angry about Estes. While Sox fans are miffed they have to listen to Chip Carey. Lee rips one to center and Corey Patterson misplays it and it gets by him, scoring Thomas and Ordonez. So much for all that talk about a Gold Glove. Wellemeyer retires Crede to end the inning.
Sox 8, Cubs 1
Karros pops to his counterpart at first. Ramon Martinez rips one back through the box for a single and Damian Miller strokes one to right. First and second. Wellemeyer squares to punt and pops out to third. The ball gets away from Olivio and the runners advance. The G-Man walks to load the bases for Gonzalez and Sox pitching coach John Cooper pays Garland a visit on the mound. Garland goes full on Gonzalez before striking him out.
A friend writes in to tell me he'll buy me dinner at Gibson's if the Cubs score eight runs all weekend. I'm not exactly reaching for the phone to make reservations. Wellemeyer fans Rowand on some high heat. Olivo walks and the dinner offer already has been down-graded to Cambridge House. Weak! Though, great milk shakes at the House. Garland sacrifices Olivo. Graffanino flies out to Alou. Hey, fuggedaboutit. Inning over.
Patterson hits it deep to center but Rowand catches up to it on the edge of the track. Sosa hits the first pitch to Phil Rogers' guy in right, Ordonez. Not much patience there by either guy. Alou beats out a slow grounder to third. Karros stares at strike three and Alou is stranded.
Valentin strikes out, Thomas walks, Ordonez flies to right and Sosa loses it in the sun. The ball drops at his feet. Second and third. Lee bloops one to right, scoring Thomas. Lee hits the Cubs harder than Mike Schmidt. Crede hits a sinking liner to right and Sosa nearly makes a diving catch, but it was a trap. Sosa tried to sell it to the ump instead of throwing to second where he may have had a shot at forcing Lee. The Sox reach double digits as Maggs comes around to score. Rowand clears the bases with a poke off the ivy in left. That's 12 runs for those of you who lost track. Olivo grounds to short and that's only the second out. Wellemeyer walks the always dangerous Jon Garland. And here we go: top of the order. Graffanino grounds out and he's 0 for 4. He's the only guy who hasn't gotten in on the action.
Sox 12, Cubs 1
Martinez alliteratly lines out to Lee in left. Wellemeyer draws a walk and Cubs fans actually cheer it. The G-Man grounds a single through the middle of the infield and the winning run is 10 batters away. Alas, Gonzalez flies out to center.
Valentin walks. And strong-side linebacker Kyle Farnsworth gets up in the bullpen to a huge hand. Wellemeyer fans Thomas. Farnsworth punk'd Paul Wilson harder than Tony Siragusa on Rich Gannon in the 2001 AFC title game. I'm surprised he didn't get flagged 15 yards for driving Wilson into the turf. Ordonez grounds into a double play and onward we move.
One more thing on the fight: Am I the only one disappointed that Dusty wasn't allowed to have his way with Ray Knight during yesterday's dust-up? "Little roller up around first. Behind the bag...it gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!" Ugh.
The struggling Paul Konerko replaces Thomas at first. Patterson rolls out and here's the situation where Sosa usually launches one. Nothing at stake. Not this time. Strike three. Alou grounds out. Zzzz.
Sixth inning--yes, it's only the sixth
Greg from Bloomingdale writes in with a correction: "You must be in a 13 run pool, as your live column has 13 runs and its only 12." Sorry about that, Greg, but Adam Caldarelli has gone home for the day. Honestly, I didn't think anyone was paying attention. Farnsworth strikes out Lee. Crede flies to right and Sosa battles the sun again, but this time squeezes it tight. Rowand bloops a single to center. Olivo grounds to Hernandez, who somehow sneaked into the game, and that ends it.
Karros gives it a ride to center, but not long enough. One out. Aaaannnnd... two outs. Valentin made a Jeter-esque play going deep in the hole to his left and throwing off balance to get Martinez. Paul Bako singles and Troy O'Leary doubles him home. Bobby Hill rips one to left and O'Leary goes to third. Dusty has emptied his bench. Jose Hernandez picks up where he left off in his last stop with the Cubs with a strikeout.
Sox 12, Cubs 2
Lefty Mark Guthrie enters for the Cubs and strikes out what looked like Brian Daubach. But I'm not sure. I was busy handling a technical issue. Graffanino grounds back to Gutherie and Eddie Vedder has appeared in the booth. Bobby Hill throws the ball away on a grounder to second, but Konerko flies out to Sosa in right.
Can someone please explain the logic behind getting a vanity license plate with your favorite team's nickname on it and then wearing said plate around your neck?
Chip and Steve now chatting up Evanston native Eddie Vedder. Hey, how's that crusade against Ticketmaster going? Considering Pearl Jam just played the United Center, a Ticketmaster only venue, I would say not good.
Someone named D. Sanders has come on to face Sosa. Fox has forsaken the game completely and is now alternating between shots of babes in the crowd, Eddie Vedder in the booth and a perplexed Ron Santo. Apparently, Kerry Wood and Vedder are hitting the bars together tonight. Hopefully it turns out better than Vedder and Jack McDowell's misadventure in the Big Easy years back. Sosa flies out to right and Patterson, whom I had no idea was on base, tags and takes second. Tom Goodwin rifles one up the middle and Patterson scores. Here's something else we've learned: Steve Stone plays golf with Alice Cooper. Gives new meaning to his song "18." Yes, I'm spent. Martinez grounds to third and we're 12 outs away from starting the weekend.
Sox 12, Cubs 3
Mike Remlinger is the new Cubs pitcher and gets Ordonez to fly out to left. Eleven outs away from the weekend. Lee grounds out. Ten away. And Crede grounds out.
Bako grounds out and that's five straight ground-ball outs for both teams. O'Leary lines a hit to center and that's not good for me. I feel a pitching change coming, just to prolong things. Hill fans and here's Jerry Manuel making the change. Come on. So, Willie Harris replaces Rowand in center, Rowan moves to right, Maggs puts his feet up and Rick White is the pitcher. The point? Not sure. Jose Hernandez digs in to eventually strike out. No, make that ground out.
The Sox need to take the baseball equivalent of a knee here. Of course, Rowand gets a hit. Joe Borowski is the pitcher, by the way. Olivo pops out to Lenny Harris, who long ago replaced Karros at first. Borowski walks Graffanino and Valentin comes up with two on. Harris makes a diving play at first and we're three outs away from the weekend.
The Cubs go three up and three down in the bottom of the ninth and the Sox crush the North Siders in the first game of the series. Thanks to everyone who read and wrote in. Have a great weekend.