On the eve of the second and (thankfully) final Crosstown series, the Cubs finish up business in the far northern suburbs, aiming for three out of four from the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
This last week has not been kind to the North Siders. Well, the last century hasn't been kind either, but let's stick to the recent past. They were swept out of New York like trash in Times Square before taking two from the Brew Crew. Last night, however, was not good as one of the few constants on the pitching staff, Carlos Zambrano, was shelled in the second inning.
Glendon Rusch, the other steady rarity on this staff, goes against Ben Sheets today in a Thursday afternoon game. We're here for those Cubs fans still interested and stuck at work.
For those of you keeping score at work, here are today's lineups. We'll be back shortly with some baseball.
The roof is open and Bernie Brewer is slathered in SPF 30. Looks like a nice day in Wisco. Corey Patterson gets and will lead off today. Big stunner here: Patterson strikes out. Is it too late to put him at seventh? Steve-a-rino on the message board, yes, you are right about the Cubs trying to take three of four from the Brewers. Thank you for setting me straight on my shaky math. Neifi Perez does what Patterson couldn't do, he draws a walk. Derrek Lee lines the first pitch over the wall in the corner in left for a two-run homer and that brings all the unemployed Cubs fans on hand to their feet. Jeromy Burnitz flies out to left. Aramis Ramirez grounds out to second to end a mildly productive first for the Cubs.
Cubs 2, Brewers 0
Brady Clark will start the party for the Brewers and he lines the first pitch he sees back through the box for a single. There goes the Glendon Rusch no-hitter. Jeff Cirillo tries to go the other way but grounds it right to Todd Walker, who boots it but gets the runner at second. That should've been a double play. Bill Hall rips a double to the gap in left-center. Cirillo stops at third. The Cubs will walk Cub killer Carlos Lee. I would be remiss if I didn't welcome everyone on the message board--regulars and newbies. Welcome. Wes Helms bats with the bases full of Brewers. Helms takes a fastball right down the middle for strike three. Bob Brenly makes a good point when he says, "Not quite sure what he was looking for there." Rickie Weeks bounces one up the middle, off the mound that Neifi Perez reaches behind second base. The throw on the run is on the money and Rusch escapes.
Todd Walker wearing blue-tinted mirrored shades starts things off for the Cubs in the top of the second. He strikes out quickly. Coupled with the botched double play in the last inning, he's off to a fine start this Thursday. The other Todd, Hollandsworth, pops one into shallow center and the shortstop Hall makes a sweet over-the-shoulder running catch. Not sure where Carlos Lee was on that. Barrett flies out and we move on.
Chris Magruder hits one to the hole, Perez back-hands and makes a long throw to just get Magruder. Nice play. Chad Moeller walks and Sheets will try to bunt him over. He does. Clark files out to Hollandsworth in left.
Is Tony Little, now on those Geico commercials, the weirdest guy on earth or what? Rusch leads off and grounds out. That brings up new message-board favorite, the free-swinging, I-want-to-bat-leadoff Patterson. This time he swings at an even worse pitch for strike three and is now half way to the Golden Sombrero. Perez pops out to Hall, who makes another nifty grab.
As usual WGN returns from commercial after the first pitch of the inning is thrown. Cirillo rips one to the left-field corner and coasts into second with a lead-off double. Hall sends a fly ball to right. Burnitz comes up a throwin' because Cirillo is a runnin'. Safe at third. The infield back with Lee up. Rusch stays away from Lee and walks him. Helms lifts a fly ball to right, scoring Cirillo. Weeks crushes a ball down the left-field line...but it goes foul. After fouling off a few pitches, Weeks knocks one up the middle for a two-out single and Lee takes third. Magruder flies out to right, but the Brewers get one back.
Cubs 2, Brewers 1
"Matlock," "Rockford Files" and "Magnum P.I." back to back to back late night on WGN. That's quite a lineup. Lee starts the Cubs' fourth with a serious bomb to straight-away center for his second homer of the game. Unreal. He came in tied for the major-league lead in homers. He's alone at the top now. Burnitz flies out but Ramirez sends a single to left. Walker pops out to Hall. Hollandsworth flies out.
Cubs 3, Brewers 1
Yes, Andruw Jones hit his 21st last night. My fault. That's the last time I actually look in the paper at the league leaders. So anyway Lee alone at the top with 22 for now. Walker makes a nice play on Moeller's grounder for the first out. Here's the Iowa Cubs Rally Yak. Uh... Anyhoo, Sheets strikes out. Clark grounds out to Ramirez.
Barrett flies out to left to start the fifth. Rusch strikes out. And Carlos Zambrano get off the computer! Patterson strikes out looking this time. End. Of. Inning. If this game were at Wrigley the punks would be booing. Not that I would blame them...
Brenly quick to excuse WGN's lateness coming back from commercial on the pitchers working quickly. Easy, company man. I guess Cirillo flew out to Burnitz. Bill Hall rips his second double of the day to left. Thought about third but stopped. With a base open, the Cubs pitch to Lee and he rousts Bernie Brewer with a bomb to left to tie it. Helms and Weeks fly out to Patterson but not at the same time.
Cubs 3, Brewers 3
Linda's best friend, I thought Hall's hit was a ground-rule double, but was thrown because Brenly was talking about him jogging down the line and then picking it up. Anyway, thanks. Perez fans to start the inning. Lee lines a single to left for his third hit. Is he over .400 yet? Burnitz bounces out and Lee takes second. How awesome is Mike Maddux's moustache? Ramirez reaches out and dumps a single to left, scoring Lee. This is pretty much a two-man offense. Walker sends one deep, deep to center but Clark catches up to it on the run.
Cubs 4, Brewers 3
Magruder flies out to Burnitz. Over the replay of Clark's catch to end last inning, Brenly just told us the purpose of the warning track. Boy, thanks. Moeller hits a homer to right that a Cubs fan nearly took in the nether regions. Came up with the ball, though. He's a gamer. Sheets bounces out to Rusch. Clark bounces out to end it but the Brewers score an equalizing goal.
Cubs 4, Brewers 4
Slawdaddy, yeah, I'll take a 32-oz. lemon/lime gatorade and whatever snacks you can scare up at Walgreen's. Thanks. Hollandsworth sends a single to right. As far as I can tell, no one is up in either pen. Someone in Milwaukee see what you can do about getting me in the sausage race. Please. Barrett lines a double to left and, oh, boy, here comes Hollandsworth from first. He stumbles a bit around third but knocks Moeller off the plate with his slide. That was a mildly exciting play. Macias hits for Rusch and bunts Barrett to third. Patterson makes contact on the first pitch but fouls it back. Progress. That's more like it: Patterson fans and I think even Brewers fans are booing. Now in the dugout being fitted for that sombrero. Perez dumps a single to left-center, scoring Barrett. Lee will bat with a runner on base. Ned Yost trots out and yanks Sheets for Ricky Bottalico. OK, this is a horrible thought, but could Subway Jared please sit on Quizno's talking baby? With the count full to Lee, he checks his swing and takes a walk. Bottalico bounces one in the dirt to Burnitz and both runners move up. A game that was moving right along has slowed to a glacial pace thanks to this at-bat by Burnitz. He finally strikes out.
Cubs 6, Brewers 4
Michael Wuertz is the Cubs' new pitcher and he'll face the heart of the Brewers' order in Cirillo, Hall and Lee. Cirillo lines a single over Walker's glove. Speaking of Patterson I saw him eating breakfast with his brother at Nookies one morning. Just thought I'd throw that out there. And, no, he wasn't eating a bowl of Special K. Let's see, where were we? Oh, right, watching a baseball game. Hall pops out to short, bringing up Lee with a guy on. Perez makes a nice back-handed stop and gets Cirillo at second. For those of you wondering, some type of phony encased meat or another won the sausage race. I wasn't paying attention. Helms singles. OK, Carlos, thanks for the tip on Ned Yost's name. Now just don't treat me like Jim Edmonds. What is this, cricket? In the process of loading the bases--he just walked Weeks--Wuertz has bounced about 15 fifty-five footers among his 30 odd pitches he's thrown this inning. That's it for him. Enter Will Ohman to face Magruder. The count is 2-2. Big, fat curve just missed. Full count. Magruder lines a meatball to left, scoring two and tying the game again. Best thing Ohman did there was back-up Hollandsworth wild throw to the plate that allowed the runners to take second and third. Moeller flies out to end the inning.
Cubs 6, Brewers 6
In case "Rockford Files," "Matlock" and "Magnum" weren't an exciting enough way to end your day, WGN shows "Happy Days" and "The Beverly Hillbillies" back to back in the morning. Bottalico stays in there to face Ramirez. He breaks his bat grounding out to first. Walker follows suit and grounds out. Hollandsworth pops one to center and Hall tries another diving catch but the ball bounces off his glove. With Barrett up, for some reason Hollandsworth takes off for second and is gunned down. We'll have to wait to see if Patterson can get No. 5.
Mike Remlinger is on the mound. I assume he'll pitch the inning. Someone hit for Bottalico and flew out to Patterson. Clark flies out to Hollandsworth. Derrick Turnbow up in the Brewers' pen and Jason Dubois was seen stretching his hammies in the Cubs' dugout. Cirillo bounces a single by Walker. Hall rips a homer to center. There was some question wether it was out or not. But it was. Remlinger strikes out Lee, but the damage has been done by the Cubs' bullpen--and Bill Hall.
Brewers 8, Cubs 6
Turnbow will come on and now Patterson can strike out to end the game. Barrett strikes out swinging. Jerry Hairston pinch hits in the ninth spot. Hairston singles to center. Now Patterson can either hit a homer to tie it or a strike 'em out, throw 'em out to end it. Take your pick. Patterson breaks his bat and bloops one over the first baseman's head that drops at the start of the outfield grass. But Hairston had to hold up and gets forced at second. Strange play there. Perez comes up with Patterson on first. Patterson quickly takes second. Perez lines one past Helms at first. Patterson scores and here comes Mike Maddux to talk to Turnbown. How could they pitch to Lee here. Brutal play by Helms. Right under his glove. No error, though. Turnbow throws a 99 MPH fastball by Lee for strike one and then comes back with two straight balls away. Ball three. No way he throws another strike. That's why I'm sitting here. Turnbow blows another fastball by him. With a full count, Lee lines one to left but right at Carlos Lee to end the game.
Final: Brewers 8, Cubs 7
Well, that was interesting. In the end the Cubs lose and limp back to Chicago for a series with the best team in baseball. Thanks for reading everyone. Talk to you tomorrow for Game 1 of Cubs-Sox. Should be fun.