From the Cubicle

SportsMajor League BaseballBaseballChicago CubsJose MaciasArizona DiamondbacksJavier Vazquez

Tough one yesterday for these Cubs. With a lineup sprinkled with rookies they came up on the wrong end of a shutout, losing 6-0 to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Today, however, they play another game, which is the beauty of baseball. Just when you think things can't get worse, there's always the next day. Or something like that.

This game has the potential to be a decent pitching matchup between Mark Prior and Javier Vazquez. Vazquez, the former ace of the Montreal Expos, which is kind of like being the World's tallest midget, fizzled in his time in New York and has won only two of his last seven starts with the Diamondbacks. But once upon a time in another country where they speak French in some parts, he was much feared.

The Cubs, on the other hand, aren't striking much fear into anyone these days--not with that anemic five-hit attack yesterday. They need to start winning and winning in bunches if they're going to be a player in the wild-card race. The evidence so far, well, is iffy. But there is still time and the trading deadline. If history is any indication, GM Jim Hendry will try his hardest to find some help. Unfortunately, this season, help could be named Eric Byrnes. Nice diving catches and nice hair, but not-so-nice bat. Alfonso Soriano has also been mentioned, which is a bit more like it. But there's plenty of time--and space--to agonize over such matters on the message board.

In the meantime, enjoy the game. It's Friday, in case you haven't noticed. And here are today's lineups. No Aramis Ramirez, but there is a Jose Macias!

First inning

Craig Counsell pulls a double down the right-field to start this game off. Chad Tracy pops out to short. Yes, as some of you have pointed out on the message board, tough day already for WGN. They've butchered both Javier Vazquez's and Jose Macias' name. You won't get any of that here. Louis Gonzalez lifts a routine flyball to Jerry Hairston in center. Prior fans Troy Glaus to end the inning and Counsell is stranded at second, which works out because he won't have far to walk to his position in the field.

Hairston lifts a pop up to shallow left that a running Gonzalez handles. Hmm...sarcasm lost on some of the message board mob. I know it's Luis Gonzalez! Neifi Perez grounds out to Counsell. Derrek Lee bloops a little single to left over the shortstop Royce Clayton's glove. Jeromy Burnitz works the count full, fouling off a number of pitches in the process. Burnitz eventually walks, bringing up Todd Walker with a pair on base. Walker bounces out to second to end the inning and as they go to commercial WGN shows Burnitz getting the pie in the face for, oh, the 150th time in the last two days like this was the first time that has ever happened.

Second inning

Tony Clark takes a called third strike from Prior. Are Clark and Troy Glaus two of the biggest position players in the game? Not to mention Shawn Green, who just struck out on a check swing. The Diamondbacks have got some big dudes. And that brings us to Royce Clayton, who of all people hits a two-out single to center. Chris Snyder flies out to end the top half of the second.

The red-headed rookie Matt Murton, whom Erin Davidson, a sales rep here, has dubbed The Big Murt, grounds out to Clayton. The immortal Jose Macias digs in. This is something I will never get: The people who have Cubs vanity plates printed up and then they bring them to the game and either a.) wear them around their necks like some DMV Flavor Flav or b.) wave them at the camera. WGN just showed someone holding up a Nebraska plate that read "RGLY FLD." Not only is that weird, it's not even close. Macias ends a good at bat with a liner to right that Chad Tracy boots, allowing Macias to take second. A single and an error. Here's Henry Blanco. Another decent and patient at-bat ends well for the Cubs. Blanco hits the 11th pitch he sees into the family section in left for a two-run homer. Prior was retired so quickly I don't know what happened. I believe he bounced back to Vazquez. Hairston pops out to "that mutant Counsell," as someone on the message board wrote earlier.

Cubs 2, D'Backs 0

Third inning

Vazquez bounces out to Perez. (I'm sorry but I can't remember who said that about Counsell on the message board, otherwise I would give you credit.) The aforementioned Counsell bunts one deep over Prior that Walker bare-hands and flips to Lee to get the mutant by a step. Prior blows one by Tracy for a 1-2-3 inning.

Mike B. on the message board asks if the Cubs lose every time I do this? I think so. Though, I don't have a breakdown for you. I'll get Rahula on that. Perez bunts but it's right at Glaus who had been creeping down the line. So much for the element of surprise. One out. Vazquez fans Lee with an off-speed pitch that tailed out of the zone. The D'Backs trainer is now out talking to Vazquez. He's pointing to the side of his head. Maybe he has an ear ache. We all know how painful those can be. OK, back to bizness at hand. Burnitz, who's wearing a long sleeve shirt on this beautiful day, quickly falls behind 0-2 before looking at one on the outside corner for strike three.

Fourth inning

OK, I never called Counsell a mutant. Well, maybe I did. But I take it back. The guy's got a couple of World Series rings. I still don't like the way he holds the bat, though. Anyway, as usual WGN comes back from commercial in the middle of an at-bat. Gonzalez, whom Harry Caray would call "Gon-zah-leeeeeze," bounces one over Prior's head that Perez handles with ease. Glaus walks. While pitching to Clark, Prior throws one to the backstop and Glaus lumbers into second. Clark fans for the second time today. Well, actually he fanned there; he stood and watched a third strike the first time. Green pops out to Lee.

Walker swings at the first pitch and flies out to left. Murton rips one the other way into the corner and the big red head digs around second and slides into third with a triple. Macias skies the first pitch to center but it's not deep enough to score Murton. They'll walk Blanco to get to Prior. Prior pops out and Murton is left standing on third with nothing to do.

Fifth inning

They just showed two shirtless bald guys hanging out in the bleachers and Bob Brenly said, "Sunscreen obviously makes your hair fall out." Clayton strikes out to open the fifth. Snyder rips it right at Macias, who knocks it down, recovers and throws late and in the dirt for an E-5. Vazquez bunts Snyder over. Counsell grounds out to Lee and we move on.

Hairston is retired and Perez's attempted bunt is caught by Clayton at short--seriously. Lee strikes out to end a quiet inning.

Sixth inning

Prior gets Tracy swinging. Gonzalez rips the first pitch for a single to center. Glaus erases him by hitting into a 6-4-3 double play.

Burnitz strikes out to start the sixth of a game that is droning along. How about some action. Walker sends one deep to left but Gonzalez catches up to it. That doesn't count as action. Murton flies out to left and we go to some thrilling commercials. Speaking of which that Midas one with the guys doing bird calls keeps me up at night.

Seventh inning

Clark hits it deep and over Hairston's head. Hairston has trouble picking up the ball--twice--and Clark picks 'em up and puts 'em down all the way to third. That's the Cubs' second error of the game and it costs them a run as Green knocks Clark home with a ground ball to second. Clayton grounds out to Walker. Snyder strikes out and here's Illinois football coach Ron Zook to sing TMOTTBG and he's actually reading the lyrics off a piece of paper. Unreal. This guy has spent his life in sports and doesn't know the words to this song? He's not exactly Ozzy Osbourne. Good luck to the Illini getting more than one Big Ten win with this guy in charge. Not doing Miami of Ohio proud.

Cubs 2, D'Backs 1

Macias grounds out to first but Blanco steps up and slaps a single to right. Prior bunts it down the first-base line, Vazquez goes to second, gets Blanco but Clayton's throw to first would've made Manute Bol jump. The ball, however, bounces back hard off the fence and Prior has to stay at first. Hairston pops out to Counsell in shallow right.

Eighth inning

Prior remains in the game to face pinch hitter Quentin McCracken, who bats for Vazquez and knocks one off Perez's glove for a single. Prior's pitch count, meanwhile, is around 105 at this point. With McCracken running Counsell slices one to left for a single. McCracken stops at second. Tracy bunts both runners over and now the Cubs will walk Gonzalez to load the bases for Glaus. Ho, boy. Glaus rips an 0-2 pitch to left, scoring McCracken and Counsell. Murton's throw to the pate gets away and Glaus takes second. Third error for the Cubs today. That's it for Prior. Will Ohman comes on to face Clark, who turns around and bats righty. Clark pops out to Lee for the second out. Ohman walks Green to load the bases again and Dusty Baker yanks Ohman in favor of Roberto Novoa. The good thing for the Cubs is Clayton is the batter. Clayton lays down a swinging bunt. Blanco pounces on it and throws out the runner to end the inning.

D'Backs 3, Cubs 2

Green moves from center to right; McCracken stays in to play center. Jose Valverde is the new D'Backs pitcher and he'll face Perez. Another bunt attempt? No, this time he swings and squibs one towards Counsell and Perez beats it out. Lee hits it hard but right at Clayton, who starts the 6-4-3. Brenly pointed out the last inning why Clayton would be in there hitting with the bases loaded is because in a one-run game he will be needed defensively and he was there. And there you have it. Valverde blows Burnitz away with a high fastball.

Ninth inning

Diamondbacks, worst uniforms ever? Snyder grounds to Walker who flips the ball out of his glove to Lee for the first out. McCracken strikes out, as does Counsell. And we move to the bottom of the ninth.

Brian Bruney comes on to pitch and face Walker, who walks and then is lifted for pinch runner Ronny Cedeno. Here's Murton, primed for a walk-off homer. Instead he bunts Cedeno over. Zzzz. Of course someone missed a sign. Cedeno was running on the play. Fortunately Murton got the bunt down on the ground. The immortal one, Jose Macias, works the count to 3-1. Aramis Ramirez has a helmet and gloves on ready to go. Macias walks. Blanco is called back and Michael Barrett will hit for him. Base hit. Cedeno rounds third and Gonzalez's throw is cut off. Tie game. Ramirez pinch hits in the pitcher's spot. Ramirez chops one to third that gets by Glaus and Macias slides across the plate head first with the winning run. A walk-off, seeing-eye single.

Final: Cubs 4, D'Backs 3

Have a great weekend, everyone. Thanks for reading, e-mailing and posting.

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