This is Chris King taking over for Adam Caldarelli as the Cubs try to take four of five in this wild series. This is my first time "from the cubicle," so bear with me!
Feel free to send me an e-mail with your thoughts on today's game, the series or the Cubs in general. Use the form on the right.
Brett Tomko is going for the Cards and he's won his last two outings. Not that it will matter today, but he's given up 31 homers this year. Yikes. Tomko faced the Cubs on July 4 and gave up three runs in six innings, but ended up with a no decision.
The day after that game, Estes faced St. Louis and the Cubs fell behind 5-0 in the 2nd inning before winning 6-5. Estes went six innings in that one.
Stand by for the start of this one. A beautiful day at Wrigley, with the temp right around 70 degrees.
Much debate over Estes starting today. Lot of fans hoped to see Juan Cruz. We'll see if Dusty made the right move. Bo Hart leads it off for St. Louis. Orlando Palmeiro is out of the lineup today too for the Cards. Hart drills one off the left field wall for a double. Sigh. Hart moves over to third on a sacrifice by J.D. Drew. Alou just lost Pujols' fly in the sun and Hart scores and Albert ends up at second. Cards lead. Scott Rolen steps in and Estes jumps out in front with two strikes. Alou never seemed to have sight on that fly ball. Cub fan Paul Hutchen checks in early and says hi to Ryan Smith and his brother Peter. Rolen's still batting with a 2-2 count. Now it's full. Typical Estes with some of those looping curves. Ball four. First and second with one out.
Edgar Renteria stands in and both runners go on a double-steal on the second pitch and they're in safely. 2-1 now. Paul Bako is behind the plate and he's made four trips to the mound already. Geez. Is anyone in the bullpen yet? Ball three and four. Bases full. Larry Rothschild comes out and former Cub Miguel Cairo is up. He's playing left field today he's normally an infielder. Need a double play. Almost. Cairo beats Gonzalez's throw to first and another run is in. 2-0. First and third with two outs.
They've loaded the lineup with right-handed batters today. Cairo just stole second and Rolen had to get back to third after breaking for home. But the inning ends on a Chris Widger groundout.
Brett Tomko takes the hill for St. Louis at 11-8 with a 5.45 ERA. Kenny Lofton leads off and hits a soft liner to center for the first out. Mark Grudzielanek (Mark G from here on out) fouls out on the second pitch and Sammy bats with no one on. Pujols made a great catch on that foul pop. Sosa swings at the first pitch and flies to right. Cubs weren't very patient in the first.
Cards 2, Cubs 0
So Taguchi leads off the second. He flies out to Sammy and Tomko is up. Let's see if the Cubs are still in the business of hitting their pitchers. Dusty and Tony LaRussa talked before today's game and no punches were thrown. Tomko whiffs. Two gone. Hart just picked up another double as he pokes a 2-2 pitch down the right-field line. Estes thought he had a strikeout on the 1-2 pitch. Here's Drew. E-mails coming in and everyone wants Estes out of there already. 2-2 count. Little dribbler in front of the plate and Estes handles it and the inning is over.
Here's an e-mail from Scott who claims to be Justin Klemm's uncle (Alou's favorite ump). Scott wants Estes out of there too. Speaking of Moises, he leads it off. He's a .417 lifetime hitter against Tomko with 3 HRs. Not sure if anyone will hit one today with that wind blowing in around 10-15 MPH. The crowd continues to be fooled by Alou's line-drive foul balls down the left-field line. Can't they tell it's foul? Full count. More foul balls. Oops, e-mailer Scott is Justin Klemm's cousin, not uncle. Now that that's settled, Alou walks and Aramis Ramirez steps in. Base hit to left. First and second with no outs. Here's a chance.
Tomko faces Eric Karros. Houston is off today. If the Cubs win, they'll be 1/2 out and the Cards will be one out. Karros drills a single to center and it's a 2-1 game. Ramirez moves to third. Still no outs. Gonzalez just tied it with a sac fly to make it 2-2. Maggie from Hammond is hoping today's game is easier on her heart compared to yesterday. Cubs just got a break as Bo Hart lets one go through his legs at second on Paul Bako's grounder and it's first and third with one out and here's Estes. He swings at the first pitch and Estes puts the Cubs in front 3-2 with a sac fly to left field. Lofton flies out on a 2-0 pitch to end the frame.
Cubs 3, Cards 2
Joe from Tolono, Ill., has been forced to listen to the Cards' radio broadcast. Hey, just stay right here! Albert Pujols has not had a good series. Glad we don't have to face him again after today though. Pujols grounds to short for the first out. Scott Rolen beats out an infield roller between short and third. Replay shows he may have been out. Edgar Renteria is 1-for-15 in the series. Make that 1-for-16 as he flies out to Sosa. Two gone. Cairo also sends one to Sosa in right-center for the final out. Lofton never saw the ball in the sun. Glad Sammy showed up.
I was lucky enough to be at the game yesterday. Bunch of St. Louis fans were sitting around after the game wondering what the heck just happened. Even I thought a six-run deficit was too much to overcome. Mark G. leads off the third with an infield single. Tim from New York says the Cubs have a chance if they take out Estes now. Not likely. Sosa was just called out on strike three on an appeal and he's been tossed from the game too. It was close, but there's no arguing balls and strikes. He's the third Cub to get thrown out over the past few weeks. Chip and Steve claim Sammy "cursed" at the umpire. Alou bloops one into short center field and it falls, but Mark G. is forced at second on yet another close play and Baker and Alou are upset with this call.
The replay shows he was safe on a missed tag at second. Now the fans are tossing cups on the field. Alou is at first with two out. What a crazy series. David from Chicago is glad Sammy is gone. Ramirez hits into a force play for the third out.
Chris Widger is out on strikes after Bako fires to first on a dropped third strike and Karros makes a nice grab as Widger steps on his foot. Estes is doing a better job getting ahead of the hitters. Taguchi takes an 0-2 pitch into right for a single. Figures. Troy O'Leary replaces Sosa in right field. Cubs head to Milwaukee after this for a three-game set. Tomko bunts down the first-base line and Bako picks it up, but the ump rules it fair. So first and second with one out. Why would Bako pick it up if it were fair? Another controversial call. I can't remember a series with so many questionable calls on both sides. Hart hits a chopper and Estes gets a glove on it and it goes right to Gonzalez who filps to Mark G. and on to Karros for a bang-bang DP and the inning is over. Nice.
E-mails are rolling in about the umps. Cub fans are hot no surprise there. Don't forget this Sunday is the Bears opener and Adam Caldarelli will be here for a "Bears Today" exclusive with commentary on the Bears-Niners opener at 3:15. Karros grounds to third leading-off the fourth. Nice play by Rolen on that hard hit ball. Do you realize that if the Cubs need to play a one-game playoff on Sept. 29 it would be the same day/night as the Bears-Packers game at Soldier Field? What if the Cubs play at night? Get the two TVs ready. Alex Gonzalez flies to right for out No. 2 and Paul Bako Ks on a 3-2 pitch and it's an easy inning. Still 3-2 Cubs.
J.D. Drew begins the fifth with a base hit to left and the tying run is on with Pujols coming up. Pujols bloops one into right and O'Leary and Mark G can't reach it. Look out here. First and second with no one out. Estes hasn't won a game since July 27. Scott Rolen whiffs on a high heater. I didn't know Estes had that pitch. Matt from Chicago says three TVs will be necessary if the Sox play on the 29th too. Kenny from California says it's time for Estes to leave this one as Renteria walks to load the bases. Larry Rothschild comes out. Already 97 pitches for Estes. Cairo up next. No mention of the bullpen and Fox hasn't show it. C'mon. Cairo hits one to center and Lofton and Mark G get their signals crossed, the balls drops and the tying run scores. But they get a force at second. First and third with two outs and a 3-3 game. That was awful. It was barely out of the infield. Chris Widger pokes one down the left-field line on a 3-2 pitch and both runs score. 5-3 Cards. Estes was close to getting the strikeout on two pitches right off the corner of the plate and he was not happy with the home plate ump. Taguchi grounds out and the inning ends.
Cards 5, Cubs 3
Larry Rothschild just got thrown out in between innings. This is Estes' longest outing since Aug. 8, but he's coming out as Tom Goodwin just doubled pinch-hitting for Estes. Lofton drills a single to left on the first pitch and here come the Cubs again. First and third with no outs. Mark G ties it at 5 with a double down the left-field line. Lofton was on the move and scored from first. No outs. I bet the Cubs can't wait to get to that Cardinal bullpen. O'Leary bunts and moves Mark G over to third. Todd Wellemeyer is in the Cubs pen. Alou puts the Cubs in front with a laser-beam double to left. 6-5 Cubs. One out. That's it for Tomko. Josh Pearce will come in and I'll take a breather.
Will the Cubs have anything left after this series? Geez, I've had enough of these Ford commercials with, "Any way You Want It" or whatever the title of that song is. That's from the 80s I think. Cairo makes a sliding catch in left on a blooper by Ramirez and there's two gone. Alou has 84 RBIs now. Karros strikes out to end the inning.
Cubs 6, Cards 5
Thanks to BC, Dave and John for pointing out that "Anyway You Want It" is by Journey. Steve Perry whatever happened to that guy? Todd Wellemeyer comes out of the bullpen and Randall Simon takes over at first. Orlando Palmeiro just struck out to start the inning. E-mailers are thrilled to see Shawn Estes out of the game but not fast enough for them. Hart flies to Lofton on an easy play. J.D. Drew singles to center and now Pujols is the go-ahead run. Luke from Chicago says Ron Santo is not in the booth now. I saw him earlier today. Hmmm. Pujols walks on a 3-1 pitch and Rolen steps in with two on and two out. Estes is eligible for the win. Wow. He hasn't won since July 27. Adam from Texas is still upset with some of Dusty's moves yesterday like bringing in Felix Sanchez in a tense situation. I agree. Luckily, the Cubs pulled it out. Rolen hits into force play to close out the frame. Nine outs to go.
Ah ha Dave Otto is filling-in for Santo. I'm sure I saw Santo earlier. Mike from Springfield says Santo had a doctor's appointment. Thanks for the update and all the e-mails today. Even got two from Henry in Japan! We hope to do this more as the race continues. Oh, there's a game going on. Gonzalez flies out and Bako singles to center. Randall Simon and the Cubs get a break as Pearce picks up a dribbler headed foul near the line and so Simon is safe at first. Lofton now with first and second and one out. He pops out. Two gone. Mark G grounds out to end the frame.
Sean from Virginia wants to know about Estes starting and what Chip & Steve had to say. They just said Baker hoped his experience would help in a game like this. Estes did get robbed on two pitches to Widger before he drove in two runs, so it may have only been three runs in five innings.
Long way to go. Would have been nice to pick up another run last inning. Edgar Renteria draws a base-on-balls to start the inning. Cairo drills a liner to first and Simon can't make the catch, but knocks it down and manages to get to the bag for the out. Renteria goes to second and Cairo is retired. If he makes the grab, it's a double play. Tino Martinez will pinch-hit and Remlinger is going to come on. Bob from New Jersey says the Cubs should use Estes as a marketing ploy because he keeps the games interesting.
OK. Here's Tino Martinez. Ryan from Minneapolis wants to know the over/under on Alfonseca's suspension. He says 5. I'll take the under. Martinez walks and Mike Matheny will pinch-hit for Pearce. First and second with one out. Two straight balls. Base hit to right. Tie game at 6. Runners at first and second. O'Leary's throw to the plate bounced about eight times. Orlando Palmeiro is the hitter. Paul Bako just dropped a foul pop by the screen. E-2. Huge. Called strike three. Two gone. Whew. Bo Hart bats. He has two doubles today. Full count. Hart pops out to Womack at second. Still 6-6. Former Cub great Andy Pafko sings in the 7th. He's better than Ditka. Gus from the North Side checks in from Greece and says it's midnight. Thanks for staying up.
Mike DeJean is in to pitch and O'Leary swings at the first pitch and rolls out. Why do they swing at the first pitch so much when a reliever comes on? Doug Glanville pulled that stunt yesterday with the bases loaded. Maybe Alou can go deep. Wind still blowing in though. Alou fouls one off his knee and he's down. Missed his shin guard. Full count. He walks. Ramirez bats and I assume he won't bunt. Hit by a pitch. One out and two on now and Womack bats. Womack drills one to right-center and the Cubs lead 7-6. Only his second RBI with the Cubs. First and third. Now the Cubs could use a sac fly from Alex Gonzalez. A two-run lead would be sweet. Womack swipes second so the force is off. Two strikes on Alex. Strike three and two down. Here's Bako now. He walks to load the bases. Simon due up. They could put it out of reach here. New pitcher. Steve from Honolulu checks in as does Kevin in Sydney. The World Wide Web indeed.
Lefty Steve Kline is the latest St. Louis pitcher. Ari from California makes a great point. How many times do the Cubs fail to score a runner from third this year with less than two outs? Drives me nuts. Simon just checked his swing on a pitch waaaaaay outside and it was a strike. Would have been 2-0. Now it's at 2-2. Strike three called. Sigh.
Cubs 7, Cards 6
Remlinger facing Drew. Quiet crowd right now. Drew goes down on strikes and Kyle Farnsworth is going to come on to face Albert Pujols who swings at the first pitch and flies out deep to center. That's probably gone if the wind is not blowing in. Scott Rolen keeps the inning alive with a base hit. Renteria strikes out looking on a 3-2 curve. Sweet.
The Cubs are in Milwaukee starting Friday, Houston goes to San Diego after a day off today and the Cards face the Reds in St. Louis. Kenny Lofton rolls out to first to begin the eighth. Damian Miller hits a deep fly to right, but Palmeiro has room to make the play. Troy O' Leary grounds out on the first pitch and the Cubs need three outs to take over second place.
Cubs 7, Cards 6
Joe Borowski goes for save No. 24. Cairo bounces out to Gonzalez. One down. Vina coming up as a pinch-hitter. They still have Edmonds on the bench even though Borowski stuck him out Wednesday to end it. Vina gets hit on a 1-2 pitch and Kerry Robinson will bat. Ouch. Strike three called on a 1-2 pitch. Two gone. Palmeiro is the last hope for St. Louis. Shallow fly ball to center and it's over. Cubs take four of five in a classic series. Cubs take over second place, one-half game behind Houston. Thanks for all the e-mails today.
Final: Cubs 7, Cardinals 6