From the Cubicle

Welcome all to a special edition of From the Cubicle as Kerry Wood tosses a simulated game against something called the Washington Nationals. If they're anything like the Washington Generals, this could be fun. Let's just hope bullpen catcher Benny Cadahia doesn't fall for the ol' bucket of confetti bit.

This is a milestone of sorts for the former phenom as the once feared pitcher could pass A.J. Burnett and Jeremi Gonzalez on the career simulated games list. Bud Selig is not in attendance today but Dr. James Andrews of Birmingham, Ala., is, just in case anything terrible happens. Mark Prior will toss out the ceremonial first towel.

Yeah, yeah, yeah...OK, this is a real game. Wood actually will hurl a baseball off the Wrigley Field mound during a regulation National League baseball game for the first time since Aug. 29, 2005. What's next, Rex Grossman starts five straight games?

Wood faces winless Ramon Ortiz on the eve of the annual civic hate-fest, aka the Cubs-Sox series.

Everyone has to be rooting for the tough-luck righty to regain his form, but personally I liked Wood coming out of the pen last season. He appeared so angry at his reduced role that he was like some caged animal during the five minutes the zookeeper lets it out of its pen, taking out his frustrations on the poor hitters with some serious, vintage smoke.

Dusty Baker is looking on the . Wood is back. Prior is close and Lee, well, Lee had his cast shortened. Meanwhile, no Aramis Ramirez today. One step forward, one step backwards.

Also to make room on the roster, the Cubs optioned bird-killing righty Jae Kuk Ryu to Triple-A Iowa.

Baseball soon. Lineups now.

First inning

Wood takes the mound and receives a nice hand, which is progess from the Wrigley Field crowd considering no one threw a baseball at him. Wood then blows away the free-swinging Alfonso Soriano. One up, one strike out. Marlon Anderson grounds out to Todd Walker at second on the first pitch. Wood blows away Nick Johnson to end the top of the first. He looked pretty good there--Wood, that is, not Johnson.

Ramirez is sitting out today with a "back issue," according to Len Kasper. Juan Pierre attempts to lay down a bunt but instead pops it up to short. Matt Murton snaps an 0-fer-10 slump with a single to left. Todd Walker pops out to third. Michael Barrett slaps a single to center; Murton stops at second. Jacque Jones bounces out to second.

No score

Second inning

Daryle Ward flies out to center and Wood is perfect through 1 1/3. So much for that one. Ryan Zimmerman launches one that lands deep in the left-field bleachers for a solo home run. And some fan, thinking they're quite clever, obliges the tired, play-out tradition by throwing the ball back and gets a big cheer for his/her efforts. Marlon Byrd drops a pop-up single between Walker and Jones in shallow right. Wiki Gonzalez, who oddly does not have a Wikipedia page, hits with one on and one out. A pitch skips by Barrett and Byrd takes second. Wiki squibs on that Wood handles himself. Byrd trots to third. No. 8 hitter Damian Jackson jacks one to the left-field bleachers and two more runs cross the plate. Ortiz grounds out to end a tough inning for Wood.

Nationals 3, Cubs 0

The immortal Neifi Perez, hitting .197, digs in as Wood stews in the dugout. Neifi pops out to first and takes a seat on the pines. Mabry pulls it to first where Johnson picks it and steps on the bag. Ronny Cedeno drops a broken-at single into center. Wood pops up the first pitch in foul ground and that does it for that half inning.

Nationals 3, Cubs 0

Third inning

Soriano, after seeing his two teammates take Wood deep, does the same with with a fat fastball, sending it to the busy left-field bleachers. Anderson lines a single to center. I'm hardly going out on a limb here but Wood does not have it. His fastball is in the low 90s and he's leaving it right over the middle of the plate. Johnson flies out to center. Ward strikes out with Anderson running. Barrett's throw, as usual, is off the mark, but Anderson over-slides the bag and Cedeno tags him out to complete an inning-ending, strike-'em-out, throw'-em-out double play.

Nationals 4, Cubs 0

Pierre grounds out to short on the first pitch. Murton flies out to Ward in right. Walker's grounder tips off Ortiz's glove and right to the shortstop Jackson, who then makes an easy play of it.

Nationals 4, Cubs 0

Fourth inning

Zimmerman grounds to short. Byrd fouls a pitch off Barrett's shoulder and someone yells, not sure from where, "Suck it up, Mike." Easy for you to say. Wood eventually strikes out Byrd. Thanks to reader Joseph Finn, we now know Wiki Gonzalez not only has a wikipedia page but a baseball wiki-thingy named for him. Suppose next time I should punch his name in google and see for myself. I was having some connectivity issues at the time. Well, yeah, no one cares. Someone needs to update his bio on that page because Wiki just flew out to end the inning.

Nationals 4, Cubs 0

I'm still waiting for the new Pepsi commercial in which Jimmy Fallon gets dragged by a taxi cab through the streets of Manhattan. On that hideous thought, Barrett strikes out on three pitches. Ortiz hits Jones on the right foot with a pitch. Neifi, down to .194 after that first inning pop up, bounces to Jackson, who boots it and ruins everything--the double play, the play at first. Everyone is safe. That was a tailor-made double play. Mabry barely gets a piece of it and my guy Wiki pounces on it and throws him out. Second and third with two outs for Cedeno, who flies out to left on the first pitch.

Nationals 4, Cubs 0

Fifth inning

Wood strikes out Jackson to open the fifth. Wood gets Ortiz looking at a curve for his sixth strikeout. Unfortunately, he's given up four runs. Soriano flies out to left and Wood has now retired eight straight.

That's it for Wood. Ryan Theriot strikes out for the pitcher. Pierre chases a pitch way out of the zone for strike three. Murton hits it right at Zimmerman, who boots it and it's ruled a hit. Please. That's a routine play for a third baseman. Bob Rosenberg still the official scorekeeper at Wrigley? That's brutal and borderline homerism. Anyway, Walker flies out to end the inning.

Nationals 4, Cubs 0

Sixth inning

Enter Will Ohman and he'll pitch to Anderson, who sends a homer the other way to the left-field bleachers. Solid start for Ohman. Johnson pokes a double the other way. So Ohman has faced two straight lefties and given up a homer and a double in about 30 seconds time. Ward pops one down the line and Murton gloves it on the bullpen mound, where Roberto Novoa is throwing. Nice work because that can be dangerous over there. Ohman strikes out Zimmerman. Don Friske (sp?) is the official scorer today. My apologies to Bob Rosenberg. This came up because someone e-mailed Len and Bob about how they could become an official scorekeeper. They never answered the questions, but I'd like to know. Byrd hits it sharply but right at Neifi, who makes a nice play to end the top half of the sixth.

Nationals 5, Cubs 0

Barrett sends a 3-2 pitch the other way for a single. Jones sends one to right that the fairly large Daryle Ward cuts off to hold Jones to a single. But Barrett hustles to third. Neifi lines an RBI single to center. First-pitch hitting paid off there. Up in the pen are lefty Mike Stanton and righty Jon Rauch, the former White Sox tall drink of water. And one of them keeps thowing wild pitches that roll all the way down the line, holding up a potential Cubs rally. Mabry lines a pitch the other way, but Jones does not come home. Bases loaded and no outs for Cedeno. Full count. Cubs fans are up. Cedeno fouls off ball four. Cedeno fights off another pitch, this one looked like a strike. Aramis Ramirez is on the on-deck circle. Well, that's good Dusty isn't letting Ohman hit for himself. Cedeno sends a deep fly ball to right, deep enough to score Jones. Neifi tags from second. Frank Robinson goes and gets Ortiz in favor of Rauch. Ramirez singles to center and Neifi scores. So much for Rauch, whom I think threw one pitch. Stanton enters and will face Pierre after these beer commercials. And speaking of beer--lots of it-- there's this thirsty guy in Utah. Pierre ends the rally by bouncing into a 1-4-3 double play. But the Cubs gets three back and make a game of it.

Nationals 5, Cubs 3

Seventh inning

Novoa hops on board this party train. Wiki flies out deep to center. Jackson doubles down the left-field line. Ryan Church hits in the pitcher's spot and he rolls out to Walker. Jackson takes third. Soriano grounds out to Walker and here's Sharon Robinson, Jackie Robinson's daughter, and the Jackie Robinson Foundation scholars to sing TMOTTBG.

Now I'm getting it from all sides. Beat writer Paul Sullivan writes in to tell me it's Jon Rauch, not John Rauch, as I wrote. I feel shame. He must've missed my "taylor made" golf clubs double play back in the fourth. Murton singles. Walker flies out to center. Barrett walks. Jones sends it deep, deep enough to get the Cubs fans at Wrigley all atwitter, but not deep enough to really matter. Two outs. Neifi pops up and Zimmerman reaches into the camera well at the end of the dugout to retire the side.

Nationals 5, Cubs 3

Eighth inning

Scott Eyre pitches to Anderson and Anderson flies out. Eyre walks Johnson and stunningly that's the first of those by Cubs pitchers today. And there's the second one was Ward trots to first. Bobby Howry takes his sweatshirt off and will start warming up. Cedeno makes a nice play on Zimmerman's high chopper, getting Ward at second but there's no time to get the runner at first. First and third with two outs for Byrd. A pitch gets away from Barrett and Zimmerman takes second. After a lengthy at bat featuring foul balls, pitches in the dirt, Eyre strikes out Byrd.

Gary Majewski, who came in last inning, strikes out Mabry. Cedeno flies out to a running Byrd in shallow center. Freddie Bynum hits in the 9 hole and he grounds a single up the middle. OK, no I didn't fall asleep. Juan Pierre is up and has fouled off so many balls they may have to call this one--unless, of course, some bleacherites can spare a few balls from their stash. Eventually Bynum steals second. Frank Robinson is asleep in the dugout with his eyes open. Another foul ball and this one was close to being a double down the left-field line. Pierre strikes out and we move to the ninth.

Nationals 5, Cubs 3

Ninth inning

Yes, tomorrow and Saturday we'll have FTC for the Cubs-Sox/Sox-Cubs series. And, no, Linda S. will not be on the call. No disrespect to you Linda S., of course. Wiki flies out to Jones in right. Howry is the new pitcher. Jackson grounds out and here's one of the bigger morons in baseball, Robert Fick, to hit in the pitcher's spot. No disrespect to morons, of course. This guy has a history with both the Sox and Cubs. He was part of that epic fight between the Tigers and Sox in 2000 and then cheap-shotted Eric Karros during the 2003 playoffs. Plus, he got run last night while pinch hitting right after coming off the DL. Fick strikes out.

Chad Cordero and his insanely rigid and straight cap bill will try to close this out for the Nats. He strikes out Murton. Walker doubles down the right-field line and the tying run will come to the plate in the form of an ice mist--I mean Michael Barrett. Cordero starts off Barrett with three straight ballz before tossing in a strike right down the middle. Barrett sends it deep to center and Walker tags and takes third. Jones, never too shy with those first pitches, takes a wicked cut and fouls it back. Jones draws a walk. Neifi takes a ball and Wiki wants to talk to Cordero. As does Frank Robinson. Major confab on the mound. And out of no where Neifi lays down a bunt with two outs and it's right at Cordero. He throws to first. Game over. Interesting choice by Neifi.

Final: Nationals 5, Cubs 3

OK, thanks for reading everyone. As I mentioned we'll be back tomorrow and then all weekend for the big Sox-Cubs series. And also good luck to ChicagoSports.com Greg Gugger, who is leaving us today to join the Chicago Police department. Maybe someday he can help me get out of a ticket. We'll miss you.

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