Nice day, if a bit chilly, here in Chicago and I have no idea what it's like in Arizona, where the Cubs are opening their season today at 4 p.m. CDT. Let's go out on a limb and say it's sunny, 80 degrees with few, if any, clouds in the sky. Updates when I change the channel around game time. Cartoons on WGN right now.
Dusty Baker announced his last week. It's obviously subject to change and again, updates when WGN programming is aimed at those older than 14.
Carlos Zambrano (16-8, 2.75 in 2004) vs. Javier Vazquez (14-10, 4.91). I don't have much to say about Zambrano that hasn't already been said. Vazquez failed to live up to expectations with the Yankees after being dealt out of then-Montreal, but was part of one of the best pitchers' duels in Wrigley in my lifetime.
We're about 15 minutes from game time, and the White Sox might be done by the first pitch of the Cubs game.
My boss just bounced me an email with the weather in Phoenix. It's "Mostly sunny. Windy, cooler. Highs 74 to 79. South wind 10 to 20 mph in the morning, becoming southwest 20 to 30 mph in the afternoon." Hey, not bad, I was more or less on the nose. But apparently it's not good enough for the folks in the desert, because new play-by-play man Len Kasper just informed me that the roof is over the field.
Oh, the White Sox did indeed beat the start of the Cubs game, beating the Indians in less than two hours.
WGN just flashed a stat that not only was Zambrano 16-8 last year, the Cubs were 21-10 in games he started.
First pitch from Vazquez is strike one to Corey Patterson. Corey rips a 1-1 pitch back up the middle for a single. Wild pitch and Corey takes second. Good baserunning by Corey because the pitch didn't go that far away from the catcher. Promised you the D'backs' starting lineup, and here it is: Craig Counsell (2B), Royce Clayton (SS), Luis Gonzales (LF), Troy Glaus (3B), Shawn Green (RF), Jose Cruz (CF), Chad Tracy (1B), Koyie Hill (C) and Vazquez. Walker rips one to center that Cruz tracks down and Corey takes third. Then Nomar grounds to third and Corey was across the plate before Glaus fielded it. to bat with the bases empty, and rips a single up the middle. Jeromy Burnitz digs one out of the dirt and rips it into right-center for a single, Aramis moves to third. Vazquez is holding Burnitz on first, I'm not sure if he knows something about Burnitz's speed that I don't. The singles parade continues with Derrek Lee ripping one to center and it's 2-0 with runners on first and second and two out. Whatever Vazquez is doing isn't working, because all four singles have been ripped. Todd Hollandsworth stands in. He goes to 1-2 and then swings at a fastball at his eyes. Not a bad start.
Cubs 2, Diamondbacks 0
Craig Counsell leads off for the Snakes and he's no longer sporting his arms-straight-up-in-the-air batting stance. Bat's still high, but not quite as ridiculous. He flies a full count pitch to Jeromy Burnitz after Zam fell behind 3-0 and fought back. Zam goes full to Royce Clayton, as well, and Clayton chops out to No-mah. Muhammad Ali in the house, and he watches Zam strike out Luis Gonzalez looking on a 2-2 count. Perfect inning despite a little control trouble.
Cubs 2, Diamondbacks 0
Michael Barret pops out foul to the first-base side and Zambrano registers the first extra-base hit of the season with a double just inside the first-base bag. Corey rips another one up the middle and Zam scores. Todd Walker joins the club and gets a single, Corey moves to second. No-mah loops one into center and the Cubs have yet another run. Walker to second. Ramirez pounds one off the wall for a two-run double. He's earning his raise. Burnitz strikes out looking. That's more like what I remember from him. Arizona bullpen is up and running. Lee rips one down the third-base line and this is getting ludicrous. Ramirez scores, Lee at second with two outs. The Snake fans are letting Vazquez hear it and it's an early shower for Javier. Righty Brian Bruney in to relieve the spectacularly ineffective Vazquez. Some old guy fell out of the stands trying to catch a Hollandsworth foul ball and the ball boy gave it back to him. A little comedy to brighten your day. Hollandsworth grounds to third and has ended both innings.
Cubs 7, Diamondbacks 0
The ceremonial first pitch was instead a ceremonial throw from second to first from Ryno to Gracie. Both of 'em lookin' on the old side. Zam whiffs Glaus on another full count pitch. Three of his four batters have gone full, and the fourth was a 2-2 count. Another strikeout, this one blown by Shawn Green, on a 2-2 count. Zambrano's looking good and working quickly, but his pitch count is up early. Another full count from Zambrano and lefty Jose Cruz homers to the opposite field. He just went with a tailing fastball. A bird fell from the rafters and the umps gave it to Ryan Dempster, I guess he's the team humanitarian. Chad Tracy rips a single up the middle. Zambrano reached up with his bare hand to knock the ball down, a habit he's had all his career and one he should figure out how to shake. By the way, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, we have a board over on the right where you can let loose. Zambrano strikes out Koyie Hill and the side.
Cubs 7, Diamondbacks 1
Barrett again fails to lead off the inning with a hit by grounding out on the first pitch. He and Hollandsworth are the only guys not get hits this game, Dusty might have to cut 'em. Just got a Zambrano pitch count, he's at 46 over two innings. Zam strikes out swinging. Corey's bid to bat 1.000 this season is foiled as he ends the inning with a strikeout.
Cubs 7, Diamondbacks 1
Quinton McCracken pinch-hits for Bruney and leads off the inning with a single. Zambrano walks Counsell and goes to 2-0 on Royce Clayton. Barrett and Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild out to talk to Carlos. Whatever was said, it worked. After two strikes and a ball to Clayton, he bounces into a 4-6-3 double play, McCracken to third. Surprise bunt from Luis Gonzalez against the shift and no one was expecting it. Zambrano fielded it and tried to throw out McCracken at home and sailed everything. Fortunately, Gonzalez didn't see it and stayed at first. Turned out not to matter as Glaus grounds out to second to end the inning.
Cubs 7, Diamondbacks 2
Mike Gosling (1-1, 4.62 in 2004) is on for the Snakes. He lost out on being their fifth starter but pitched well enough in the spring to earn a long relief spot, or so say Kasper and Bob Brenley. Todd Walker gets another hit, a looper to center. No-mah first pitch swinging and couldn't have thrown it out there any better. Runners at the corners, none out. Aramis' bid for 1.000 goes the way of Corey's, as he grounds into a double play. Walker scores, but no RBI for Aramis. Burnitz follows with a single. The last hope for a 1.000 hitter disappears as Lee is fooled by a 3-2 curve ball after about a half-hour at the plate.
Cubs 8, Diamondbacks 2
Carlos still struggling with control as he walks Shawn Green on a full count. He may just see the minimum to qualify for a victory today. Jose Cruz whiffs. Chad Tracy 2-2 as he loops one right in between Burnitz and Todd Walker. Koyie Hill then pops out in foul territory to Aramis, who made a nice play avoiding the railing. Zam blows one by pinch-hitter Tony Clark to end the inning.
Cubs 8, Diamondbacks 2
Hollandsworth finally starts pulling his weight and gets a single. Barrett up, and Len Kasper joins me in saying it's time for him to join the party with a hit. Oh, by the way, Greg Aquino is the fourth Snakes pitcher of the day. He almost picked Hollandsworth off after three or four throws over there, then got Barrett to line out to left. He's really not cooperating. Got a suggestion to call Zambrano "Big Z" instead of "Zam." So I shall oblige. Big Z chops out and moves Hollandsworth to second. Patterson walks. Wow. Could this be a new Corey, or is Greg Aquino just not very accurate? Walker rips one off the first base bag, it pops in the air and the Cubs have another run and runners on the corners for the heart of the order. Len Kasper just said we've seen more singles from the Cubs today than at the bars last weekend in Vegas. If you heard a loud groan, it was everyone watching this broadcast. No-mah whiffs to end the inning. Probably doesn't matter in a 9-2 game, but let's hope he doesn't do that in too many of these situations this year.
Cubs 9, Diamondbacks 2
Counsell singles to start the inning. Royce Clayton chases a sinker in the dirt and away he goes. Gonzo swings through a sinker and Big Z is one out away from qualifying for the win. Troy Glaus gets one past Aramis down the line, but Counsell is held up. Snakes have runners on second and third. Glendon Rusch warming in the pen. Not sure the effect that has on the rotation if he gets in today. Zambrano loads 'em by walking Green on a full count. With a 9-2 lead, Bob Brenly suggested that this is a key moment in the season. Using that logic, Zambrano might as well pack it in for the season as he walks Cruz. He was unhappy with a few calls from the Green at-bat and let the umpire hear it as he walked off, and was ejected. Not sure of the point of ejecting a guy on his way to the showers anyway. Nice ad during the break for Southwest flying to California with the Governator and Maria Shriver. In comes Glendon Rusch. He gets a quick flyout to finish the inning, looks like he'll be the victory vulture if they can hold on to a tenuous six-run lead.
Cubs 9, Diamondbacks 3
I want to see Fever Pitch less every time I see an ad for it. Seeing as I pretty much didn't want to see it in the first place, we're dealing with negative numbers here. If one can quantify desire. Aramis starts off with a walk. We're now past the two-hour mark. I envy my colleague Adam Caldarelli, who did the Sox game. It was over by this point. Burnitz singles. Lee skies one that carries out and the Cubs are now officially putting the spank on the Snakes. The score is Lee 5, Diamondbacks 3, and Derrek is a triple shy of the cycle. Arizona manager Bob Melvin walks out and we are about to be blessed with pitcher No. 5 from his club. Hollandsworth grounds out, and Barrett rips one but Counsell snags it. Michael still being left out of the hit parade. Rusch flies out.
Cubs 12, Diamondbacks 3
Koyie Hill (not to be confused with Koy Detmer) flies to Corey to start the inning. Rusch breezes through Brad Halsey, the guy who came in for Aquino in the last inning. Rusch's perfection then goes by the wayside as he walks Counsell. Royce Clayton singles to left and runners on the corners for Luis Gonzalez. Larry Rothschild out to talk to Rusch, presumably to ask him how the heck he gave up a hit to Royce Clayton. Gonzo rips it and Burnitz gets on his horse and snow-cones it.
Cubs 12, Diamondbacks 3
Corey flies out and the Jerry Hairston era begins as he will be a late-inning defensive replacement for Todd Walker. Hairston flies out and No-mah goes back up the middle and Halsey air mails the throw. Aramis goes opposite field for his first dinger as a filthy rich man and the spanking gets worse. Burnitz goes down swinging and the stretch has beaten the three-hour mark.
Cubs 14, Diamondbacks 3
At the olllllld ballllllll gaaaaaaaame! All right, welcome back. Saw an ad before the top of the seventh for paintball on WGN superstation. Camping out for tickets to see that live. Neifi Perez in for No-mah, Hairston stays in at second at Jason Dubois in left for Hollandsworth. None of that matters much as Rusch walks Glaus to start the inning. Green then singles to right. Glendon walks the bases loaded and Larry Rothschild walks to the top step of the dugout. Fly ball to center by Tracy scores a run, Green to third, runners on the corners with one down. Hill skies one to Patterson, two consecutive sac fly balls to him. The lead is down to single digits. Hairston sees his first defensive action on a chopper by Halsey and does just fine.
Cubs 14, Diamondbacks 5
Derrek Lee starts the eighth and rips one to the left-field corner, in with a stand-up double. Still a triple shy of the cycle, no way he could have made third on that one. The last cycle was Mark Grace in 1993 against the Padres. The triple he hit for that must have rattled around in the corner for about five minutes. Jason Dubois rips one to left for the 20th hit of the afternoon. Now comes the one starter who hasn't contributed to that total, Michael Barrett. No sooner said than he takes care of business with an RBI single to left. Lead back up to double digits, fans can breathe a little easier. Jose Macias grounds into a double play to make this all go a little faster. Corey then extends things by singling home Dubois. The 16 runs are a club record for a season opener. It breaks the former record of 15, recently done in 2003 against the Mets. Here's hoping 15+ runs in a season opener results in a division title. Hairston grounds out to end the inning.
Cubs 16, Diamondbacks 5
I would be derilict in my duties if I didn't remind you to talk to your doctor about Cialis. So don't forget. Lefty Cliff Bartosh (1-0, 4.66 last year) in for the Cubs. Counsell shoots one to third which Macias, staying in for Aramis, makes a nice play and fires low to Lee, who also makes a nice play. Bartosh then pulls the string nicely, though it would be more impressive if it wasn't on Royce Clayton. Luis Terrero in for Luis Gonzalez, and he flies out to Burnitz.
Cubs 16, Diamondbacks 5
A talking baby told me to eat Quizno's. Must eat now
Okay, sorry about that, just snapped out of my commercial hypnosis. Halsey still in for the Snakes, this is inning No. 4 for him. Neifi leading off the inning. Neifi pops out foul to first. Cliff Bartosh, hitting for himself, singles. Burnitz whiffs, and he's got three of 'em today. He also has three hits. He's on pace to hit .500 with 486 strikeouts. Derrek Lee bounces to third and gets thrown out by a half step. If the Cubs want to find out who their closer is going to be, today is not going to be the day. We hope.
Cubs 16, Diamondbacks 5
Jay in Canada wondered about an hour ago (sorry about the delay in updating the board) why Fergie Jenkins' number isn't retired. Right now, it's because it's on Greg Maddux's back, but why it even made it to 1987 is a mystery to me. Righty Todd Wellemeyer on for the Cubs. Terrero grounds out to start the inning. Green singles to center. Cruz lines out and Chad Tracy singles to center. Grounder to the right by Hill finds daylight and the lead is down to 10. Pinch hitter Matt Kata strikes out. Cubs win, Cubs win. Time for basketball.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times