A lot has changed for the Sox since that first series with the Cubs a week ago.
The South Siders are now two up in the Central and made a major move, acquiring starter Freddy Garcia. Meanwhile the Cubs still are three games back and spinning their wheels a bit with a bout of bad defense and base-running. I mean, even Cubs fans had to chuckle at Moises Alou's misadventure in the left-field ivy Tuesday night.
We find ourselves at the start of July with both teams very much in it. A big series for either team could propel them into the second half.
The Sox put a hurtin' on the Cubs last week, taking two of three, and the Cubs would like nothing more than revenge.
A pair of 8-3 records face off today in Esteban Loaiza for the Sox and Carlos Zambrano for the Cubs.
For those of you with unfriendly bosses or really important work to do -- or have to be in the office today on the start of the July 4 weekend -- hopefully we can be of some service with this play-by-play.
We'll have baseball soon...
It's a beautiful day for baseball. Let's face it, it's a beautiful day for anything besides working. Those of you that have the unfortunate luck of working, we feel your pain. Some news: The Cubs traded lefty Jimmy Anderson to the Red Sox for minor league reliever Andrew Shipman. Don't know much about Shipman other than he's young, Class A young. OK, we'll be underway shortly. Also, Bob Brenly was canned in Arizona. Does this mean Mark Grace will be named manager?
Center-fielder Timo Perez leads off for the Sox and walks on five pitches. Zambrano didn't fare too well against the Sox last weekend by walking a bunch of batters. Not a good start here. Here's Juan Uribe. Uribe bunts one towards first. Derrek Lee can't make a play on the hard-hit bunt and everyone's safe. Cubs killer Carlos Lee digs in. He's hit a ton in this series over the years. He's hitting .396 in Wrigley since 2000, our friends at Fox Sports Net report. Zambrano gets him swinging on a pitch low and in for the first out. Zambrano falls behind Jose Valentin 2-0 before blowing a few fastballs right by him for the second out. Wow. Plenty of empty seats in those $250 numbers behind home plate. The Tribune suits are slow ducking out of work, I guess. Zambrano loses Konerko quickly. Konerko takes his walk and the bases are loaded for the immortal Ross Gload. This guy won't make anyone forget about Roberto Clemente in right field. Zambrano falls behind Gload but then comes back to a full count. Both Cubs and Sox fans are on their feet and Gload fouls it off, fouls it off and fouls it off. Gload rips one down the right-field line. It's close. The umps call it fair and Sosa is going nuts. He runs all the way into the infield to take it up with the first-base ump. Now it's called foul. The ball was clearly foul. Now here's Ozzie. He's pointing and yelling. Seriously, the ball was foul. Close but foul...by inches. An usher near the foul pole threw a major fit, too. Great stuff. Oh, boy. Anyway, full count to Ross Gload. Ozzie heads back to the dugout and here we go. Gload then rips the next pitch to the gap in left-center, scoring two. Joe Crede grounds out to Lee at first to end a very interesting first inning.
Sox 2, Cubs 0
Mark Grudzielanek leads off the Cubs' first. He pops one in foul territory behind first and Konerko can't catch up to it. He gets an extra strike. Grudzielanek tries to check his swing but is called out. Patterson pops one to Valentin at short. Sosa hits one sharply to third, Crede back-hands and makes a nice throw. A easy inning for Loaiza.
Jaime Burk leads off and grounds out. The hard-hitting Loaiza digs in. He's gone on three strikes. You kind of feel sorry for him. That was ugly. Perez hits one down to first and Mr. Gold Glove himself, Derrek Lee, lets it roll under his glove. It's scored a hit. A Sox fan friend of mine just wrote in: "that usher was going nuts on the home run. typical wrigley." Anyway, Uribe is up and fouling off a bunch of pitches. Zambrano eventually strikes him out.
Alou grounds out on the first pitch of the second but Fox didn't show it because they were busy showing highlights of the Cubs teeing off on Carlos Castillo in 1998. Aramis Ramirez ropes one to the gap for the Cubs' first hit, a one-out double. Lee rips one to right and it's always an adventure out there for Ross Gload. This one's no different. He turns the wrong way, can't recover and the ball goes right off his glove. He did the same thing at Comiskey a week ago. Brutal. Ramirez scores and Lee ends up on second. Barrett grounds out, Lee takes third and the Sox will walk Ramon Martinez to get to Zambrano, who may be a better hitter than Martinez. But it sets up the force. Zambrano grounds out to short to end the inning. The Cubs get one back.
Sox 2, Cubs 1
Carlos Lee starts the third with a ground out and then Zambrano plunks Valentin. Konerko bloops one to center but Corey Patterson digs hard, makes the catch and doubles up Konerko at first.
Grudzielanek leads off the inning with a ground-ball single through the left side. Patterson hits one to the wall in center. The ball goes in the ivy and Timo Perez immediately throws up his hands. You shuld have to at least look for it. It's a ground-rule double. Sox fan favorite Sosa then rips a single to center, scoring Grudzielanek and a sliding Patterson. There was a play at the plate but Burk couldn't hold onto Perez's throw. Sosa takes second and the Cubs the lead. Alou then bloops a single into center and Sosa moves to third. Loaiza settles a bit and strikes out Ramirez looking for the first out. Lee grounds into a 6-4-3 double play and the Cubs can't get those other two runners across.
Cubs 3, Sox 2
Gload rips another pitch to right that Sosa spears on the warning track. Crede bloops one to right and Grudzielanek fights the sun and makes a nice running catch. Burks flies out to Patterson in center and Zambrano seems to have settled a bit. But you never know with this guy.
Barrett hits one hard to right. Gload plays it off the wall (smart move) and Barrett has a lead-off double. Martinez skies one deep to center and Barrett tags and takes third. Zambrano lines it to Lee in left. Lee's not much better than Gload defensively and Barrett tags and scores easily. Lee's throw was up the line. Grudzielanek flies out to Gload, who caught the ball to end it.
Cubs 4, Sox 2
Loaiza taps one down the first-base line. It gets by Zambrano but Lee takes it and flips to the pitcher, who makes a nimble play at the bag. Loaiza runs into him, but no biggie. Good thing Loaiza is a nice guy because, as Steve Stone pointed out, in another era Zambrano would've ended up in the parking lot standing on top of the bag like that. Perez pops to Ramirez at third. Zambrano walks Uribe and Dusty Baker trots out to have a talk with his pitcher. Zambrano promptly falls behind Lee, which is probably not what Dusty had in mind. Lee rips one but right at Martinez at short to end the inning.
Yeah, I spelled Jamie Burke's name wrong. Sorry about that. Corey Patterson hits the first pitch he sees to Perez in center for the first out. Sosa fans looking on a late call on a questionable inside pitch. Let's see the replay. No way. But what's one more strikeout to him? Alou takes strike one on the same pitch. At least the ump is consistent. Alou pops it to right and Gload, as always, makes an adventure out of it, running hard at the end to catch up to it. But he squeezes it and Loaiza has a one-two-three inning.
As Chip and Steve chat up Joe Mantegna, Zambrano faces Valentin to start the inning. Mantegna has opened a Chicago Italian beef stand in Burbank, Calif., and Valentin pops out to Ramirez. Zambrano has some sort of forearm cramp. Half the Cubs' dugout is out looking at him. He's fine, but falls behind Konerko. Konerko eventually flies out to Patterson. Gload grounds out to Ramirez and Mantegna hits the bricks.
Loaiza walks Ramirez. Al on the message board, no, they have not addressed the Anderson trade. Lee rips one down the line and Ramirez takes third. In the process he did something to his groin. The protective cup may have been involved. Barrett hits one deep to left. Lee catches up to it and Ramirez limps home. Lee takes off on the hit and run and Martinez deposits into right field nicely. Lee takes third. Loaiza escapes further damage as Zambrano bounces into a double play to end the inning.
Cubs 5, Sox 2
So Ramirez may have really hurt himself as Jose Macias takes over at third. I wasn't sure the Cubs had another player who could play third. Crede starts things off for the Sox. Cliff Politte is up in the Sox's pen, which means it's probably it for Loaiza. Yes, I'm here to point out the obvious. Crede flies out to center. Zambrano is again bothered by an arm cramp. This may be more than a cramp. Zambrano is in pain and Dusty snatches the ball away from him. Francis Beltran will come in to pitch. Things are getting frisky between Al and Linda S. on the message board. We may have our first From the cubicle hook-up. After about a half hour delay, Beltran walks Burke on one pitch. Well, he inherited a 3-0 count from Zambrano. The walk is charged to Zambrano, for those of you interested in such trivial matters. So Frank Thomas will pinch hit with a man on and one out. Beltran gets him swinging at a splitter and Frank is not pleased with himself. Perez lines out to end it. And here's Pat Foley, the great voice of the Blackhawks, to sing TMOTTBG.
Grudzielanek pokes a single to right off Politte. Patterson lifts one to right and Gload makes the easiest fly ball look like a tough play. That's hard to do. Sosa bounces one to second and the Sox go 4-6-3. But Grudzielanek is safe and Sosa's out. I think Valentin might have missed the bag on the turn. Politte will put Alou on intentionally. Ozzie walks out and calls for the lefty Neal Cotts. Macias lines one to the right side and Uribe makes a sweet leaping catch.
Let's get some quicker innings here. Some of us have places to be and people to see. Uribe fans to start the Sox's eighth. Big Jon Rauch is up throwing in the Sox's pen. I would've thought he'd be on the Dan Ryan by now. Beltran strikes out Lee with some heat. This guy's got to be the future closer. Valentin pops out to second. A nice quick inning. The Sox have two hits. Count 'em, two.
Jon Adkins comes on and feeds Derrek Lee a steady diet of balls (sorry) before Lee hits a single to left. Barrett bunts, Konerko fields and nobody home covering first for the Sox. Safe all around. Paging Juan Uribe. More solid D. Martinez bunts towards third. Adkins bobbles it but gets enough on the throw to get the out at first. Pretty close play. Todd Walker will hit in the pitcher's spot and the Sox will walk him to load 'em up for Grudzielanek. Grudzielanek hits the first pitch into left for a single, scoring whoever was on third. I forget. Hey, who won the softball game between the Sox and Cubs wives before the game? Patterson grounds into a 4-6-3 double play. The ninth inning has arrived--thankfully.
Cubs 6, Sox 2
LaTroy Hawkins will face Konerko, Gload and Crede in a non-save situation. Konkero rips a double off the left-field wall. That's the first hit by the Sox since the second inning. This is not over by a long shot. Despite today's numbers the Sox can hit like nobody's business. Again, I'm here to point out the obvious. Gload hits a lazy fly to Sosa for the inning's first out. Konkero stays put. Willie Harris will hit for Crede. Harris hits one down the left-field line and Alou makes a grab in Bartman territory. Ben Davis is the Sox's last chance. Hawkins fans Davis to end it.
Final: Cubs 6, Sox 2
The old adage about good pitching beating good hitting holds true today. The Cubs wives beat the Sox wives, 5-4 earlier, so big sweep for the Cubs today. Thanks for reading everyone and have a great holiday weekend. Good luck, Al and Linda, you crazy kids.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times