happy Bastille Day, welcome to this live play-by-play of today's Cubs-Pirates game. Vive la Cubicle!
We can all assume regular breathing patterns now that baseball is back, Ronnie Woo is safe and thank God, Jah, Vishnu and L. Ron Hubbard we'll all be able to follow the
Let's get right to business.
, well rested and fresh off that sweep of the sleep-walking
, welcome the
to humid and hot
. Mark Prior takes the mound today against Pirates lefty Mark
Baseball is on the hazy horizon. Today's
It's been so long since I've watched baseball I think I've forgotten the rules. Is it four balls for a walk? Yes, Mark Prior starts things off by tossing four pitches out of the strike zone.
helps himself to a free base. So much for the perfect game. Prior strikes out Rob Mackowiak. Jason Bay, who shamed the entire nation of Canada by going dingerless in the home run derby Monday night, strikes out, as well.
, who used to have really long hair, swings and misses the ball. Prior strikes out the side after allowing a leadoff walk.
Jerrry Hairston lays a bunt down the right-side and then runs right into the ball. He's out. That's scored 2 unassisted, Len says. Thanks, Len.
steps in an gets a hand from the unemployed masses. Lee looks taller. Did he put on a few inches over the break? Lee bounces one to third, Mackowiak's throw to second is low and Jose Castillo's throw to first is late.
bounces out to Castillo to end the first.
pops one to shallow right that Jeromy Burnitz tracks down near the bullpen mound. Jose Castillo pops out to Hairston in center. To
, the guy who wrote me from home while eating lunch asking him if I could send him inning-by-inning updates to his hotmail account, sorry but that's not going to happen. I have trouble enough following the game and spelling things correctly. Humberto Cota strikes out quickly. Prior breezes through the first two innings.
bounces out to second. Despite that weak grounder, I like this guy. Jeromy Burnitz strikes out. I'm indifferent about him.
bounces a ball up the middle for a single.
, who for some reason has switched uniform numbers to 24, lines a shot down the left-field line for a double. Alas, Perez is nailed at the plate. But, hey, check out the new-improved Henry Blanco.
's grounder eats up Ramirez at third. Redman bunts foul for strike three. The Bud Light Real Men of Genius guys are in the booth with Len and Bob. Matt Lawton rips a single by Perez and Murton can't pick up a ball rolling about two mph and Wilson takes third, Lawton second. Two errors in the inning. Mackowiak bounces out to Walker, but Wilson scores the game's first run. Wilson flies out for the final out.
Pirates 1, Cubs 0
Prior rips a single to center. Hairston fans. No one here wants to go to
for me. Walker rips a two-run homer in the basket in right. Prior takes his time getting around the bases and the two cross home plate together. Lee lines one to left but Wilson is in the way. Two outs. Make that three; Ramirez grounds out.
Cubs 2, Pirates 1
Craig Wilson lines out to Burnitz in right. No, felonsd, Wilson has lost the Mullet--unfortunately. I'm all for the business-up top, party-in-the-back lifestyle. Ward flies out to Murton and Castillo grounds to Perez, who makes a nice play to end the inning.
Murton grounds out, but Burnitz bloops a single to center. The guys at the firehouse on Waveland are fashioning a shower on a light pole out of a hose. I think I would like being a fireman, if I didn't have to fight fires. Maybe I could be the cook or something like that guy on "Emergency" who was always making chili. Starbucks has arrived! Perez is really battling. Between Redman's throws to first and Perez's foul balls, we've been here for half an hour. It pays off. Perez sends one deep to left, Wilson wants no part of the wall and the ball falls in for a double. Wilson recovered to keep Burnitz from scoring. The new-improved Blanco rips another double, this one off the wall in the corner in left, scoring both runners. They might need to drug test that new jersey. He's got three doubles all year, two of them today. Prior hits another single and Blanco digs around third and scores. The bottom of the order is getting it done. Hairston bunts one foul. A wild pitch allows Prior to take second. Hairston flies out to Wilson. Another wild pitch and Prior goes to third. Walker grounds out to end a big inning.
Cubs 5, Pirates 1
Reader Jim Sacco writes in to say "You mean Chester 'Chet' B. Kelley, the practical joker from 'Emergency!' who made a great pot of chili." This is sad but watching reruns of that show in the mid-'70s may be one of the first memories of my life. "Rampart!" Well, that, stubbing my toe and nearly drowning in a swimming pool. So, yeah, happy memories. Cota takes a called third strike. Jack Wilson walks. Former
and Cubs draft pick Bobby Hill grabs a bat and will hit for Redman. Did I hear this right? Bill Bucker in the house to sing TMOTTBG? He used to wear Mark Prior's No. 22. Hill pops out to second. Lawton walks. Mackowiak pops out to shallow center and Hairston makes a running catch and keeps on running to the dugout.
Ian Snell is the new Pirates' pitcher and he's greeted by Mr. Lee, who flies out to Lawton. Ramirez sends a liner over Bay's head in center and ends up on second. That play looked like something from my softball team? Snell, isn't Steven Snell the name of the character Kramer played when he was the secretary on "Murphy Brown"? Murton grounds out to third. Burnitz walks. Len says Burnitz has now played in 1,500 big-league games and never sniffed the post season. Well, good thing he's with the Cubs. Perez pops out, stranding a couple of runners.
Let me make myself clear, Shane in SD, that is from a "Seinfeld" episode. It was when Kramer went to L.A. and ended up in a bit part on "Murphy Brown," in quasi meta-sitcom moment. No, I am not a "Murphy Brown" fan. Bay strikes out to start the sixth. Craig Wilson grounds out to Ramirez, who makes a bad throw but is helped by Lee at first. Ward flies out to Murton to end it and Prior is still working on a one-hitter here. Quick inning there.
The new-and-improved Henry Blanco grounds out to second. That could only last so long. He'll be switching back to No. 9 for his next at-bat. Prior takes a called third strike. Hairston draws a walk after a lengthy at-bat. Walker digs in Hairston takes second on a wild pitch. Walker hits it hard but Jack Wilson makes a nice back-handed play at short and that ends the inning.
Castillo grounds out to short. Cota strikes out for the third time today. We've got to get a pitch count here. .... (pause) ... Wilson strikes out and Prior's around the 100-pitch mark. Here's Billy Buck, wearing the old-school powder blue away jersey. He's singing about as slow as he ran at the end of his career.
Since we're all about accuracy here--yeah, right--Prior has 97 pitches through seven innings. I thank reader Patrick F. Moran for that. Bucker talking about Derrek Lee with Bob and Len and right on cue he rips one off the top left-field wall for his 28th double. Lee, I mean, not Billy Buck, who did win the 1980 batting crown with the Cubs. Lee then swipes third. Not sure Buckner stole a base in his career. Ramirez strikes out. Here's Murton. Another wild pitch but Lee is thrown out at the plate trying to score. That was a very close play. Can't tell by the replay. Anyway, two strikes on Murton and he grounds out to end the inning.
More accuracy: Mike Nelli writes in to say Buckner had some wheels before his injury and actually stole 183 bases in his career. Thanks, Mike. Tike Redman pinch hits and singles. Lawton pops out to Walker in shallow right and
and Roberto Novoa are up in the pen. Prior fans Mackowiak. Bay pops out to Blanco and we move on. I wonder if Prior will bat if they get that far.
Salomon Torres, the guy who shattered
's batting helmet, comes on to face Burnitz, who tops one back to Torres for out No. 1. Perez goes out by ground and Blanco by air and we move to the ninth.
trots on in relief of Prior in non-save situation. Jack Wilson, the former Mullet, grounds out to Perez. Ward walks. Castillo bounces one up the middle for a potential double play but Perez can't get it out of his glove and everyone's safe. Sweet redemption. Cota hits it right back to Perez, who starts the 6-4-3 to end the game and the Cubs are back at .500.
Final: Cubs 5, Pirates 1
That's it. Thanks for reading, writing in and posting on the message board. Enjoy your Bastille Day and croissants.