summed up thusly
' latest loss at Wrigley, the team's 14th in the last 20 games at Murphy's annex:
"We just haven't gotten it done here, somehow. The other team always scores more runs than we do."
Now that it's clear Ramirez understands the rules of the game, a fact that was in doubt after he headed a ball last month in an apparent nod to the upcoming World Cup, perhaps the Cubs can muster more runs than the opposition today.
The pitching matchup points to their favor as part-time head case and sometime ace
matches wits with fellow Venezuelan, right-handed rookie Fernando Nieve. Venezuela didn't qualify for the World Cup finals, so
should have Carlos' full attention.
The Cubs look to avoid a sweep, as I look to watch the Cubs-Astros game and the Sweden-Paraguay match at the same time.
Here's something I've never noticed: Whenever Wayne Messmer sings the National Anthem, he introduces himself in the third person. "Please join Cubs public address announced, Wayne Messmer, as he's accompanied by Gary Pressy on the
Lowry Organ in the singing of our National Anthem" and then he starts singing. Weird in a
Cubs are wearing their infernal alternate blue tops fancied by most of the starting pitchers, including Zambrano. Willy Taveras sends one deep but not deep enough that left fielder Freddie Bynum can't glove it at the edge of the track. Mike Lamb bounces back to Zambrano for the second out. Chris Burke walks.
flies out to
in right and the no-hitter is intact after one.
As HL on the board suggests the Cubs start their quest to out-score Paraguay.
starts with his traditional bunt and this time it works for a basehit. Apparently Astros third baseman Mike Lamb has not been reading the scouting reports. Pierre takes off for second, the Astros pitch out but Pierre is in there with a head-first slide.
gives himself up with another bunt but moves Pierre over to third in the process, which was the whole idea of the exercise.
took a swing and now he's hurting. The assistant trainer and Dusty are out there looking into it. Barrett will stay in.
He sends a flyball to center field and Pierre hustles home. GOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAL!
Everyone keeps their shirts on as the Cubs take an early lead.
singles to left. Ramirez grounds out to his counterpart and we move on.
Cubs 1, Astros nil
Barrett sucks it up and stays in the game. I'm still not sure what he hurt. Perhaps he tweaked his back. Zambrano gets two strikes on Jason Lane and then just missed on the outside corner as the count goes full. Lane lifts one to center that Pierre gloves. The Walgreens celebrity bat kids will not stop waving at the camera. It's uncomfortable, really. Zambrano goes full to
before freezing him with a fastball on the inside corner.
bounces a single up the middle. Zambrano gets Adam Everett looking to end the top half of the second.
Jacque Jones jacks a solo homer deep to right field.
Bynum grounds to Burke, who makes a nice play to get the out.
bloops one to shallow right that Burke grabs hustling out on the grass. Zambrano grounds out.
Cubs 2, Astros nil
Fernando Nieve grounds out to first. Willy Taveras flies to the immortal Freddie Bynum in left. Zambrano walks Lamb, Z's second walk of the game. Burke bounces out to Cedeno, whom were told played ball back in the day with Nieve on the sandlots of Venezuela.
Pierre lines one by Lamb, who was playing up on the grass and looked as if he had no clue where that ball was. He nearly covered his face with his glove. Reminds me of my softball team. Pierre swipes second again. I think someone told him the season starts today. Where you been? Looks like he was out, too. Womack sends it to right where Lane makes a falling catch. You can't call that a dive. Nice play either way. Pierre takes third. Barrett grounds to second and the runner has to stay put. Walker hits it hard to right but it's right at Lane.
Cubs 2, Astros 0
On this date in 1964 the Cubs acquired pitcher Ernie Broglio for some guy named
. On that upbeat note, Berkman fllies out. Lane pops up and Bynum and Cedeno make a misadventure of it in shallow left before Bynum makes the catch. Preston Wilson drops a single into left field. Zambrano strikes out Ausmus.
Ramirez takes a mighty cut...and pops out. Jones flies out and I have to make a coffee run between innings. I went to the game last night and am still feeling it. Bynum lines out and I'm hustling to the coffee pot.
Cubs 2, Astros 0
I'll go with tea. What did I miss? Nothing. Adam Everett works the count 2-2 before doubling down the left-field line. Nieve bunts Everett over to second and I was just thinking about the commercials as someone on the message board mentions. They run the same ones every game and there's only so much you can say about Jim the Redroof Inn guy.
Taveras grounds out but knocks in Everett in the process.
Lamb flies out and here's a tip for all the kids at home: Never stick your index finger in a hot cup of tea.
Cubs 2, Astros 1
I could use Jason Grimsley's leaded coffee pot about now. Football update: Ecuador, the suprise of the tourney yet far beat Costa Rica, 3-0, England beat T&T 2-0 on a pair of late goals; Sweden and Paraguay are scoreless and the Rush won Arena Bowl XX. Cedeno works the count full before sending a foul ball in the Bizzaro Bartman land in right where a fan reaches out and takes it away from Jason Lane. A couple more foul balls. More. And more. We may run out of balls here. A 15-pitch at-bat between two childhood friends. Cedeno ultimately flies out to Wilson. A rather anti-climactic end to that one. Zambrano lines the first pitch the other way for a single. Pierre rolls a swinging bunt to first and the Astros get Zambrano at second. Pierre is safe at first. Pierre then steals his third bag of the day. I have no
update at the moment. I can only process two slow-moving sports at once. A third might be an overload. Not that soccer is all that slow. Womack bounces out to second to end the fifth.
Cubs 2, Astros 1
Burke grounds a single through the hole on the left side. Berkman one-hops it to Ramirez, who throws to second where Womack can't get the ball out of his glove on the transfer. Burke is out; Berkman is not. Biggio, Bagwell,
and the rest of the Killer B's past and present are silent. Lane strikes out. Wilson bounces one high and Zambrano knocks it down with his bare hand. He then hustles to find it, which takes about an hour, and then from about 10 feet away fires wide to second where Berkman had over-run the bag. Womack snares it. Everyone is safe and disaster is avoided. Ausmus grounds out to second to end that one.
Barrett grounds out to third. Walker pulls it to the corner in right and he trots into second with a double. Ramirez grounds out to third and Walker has to hang out at second a little while longer. That's it for Nieve. Enter lefty Trever MIller after these beer commercials. Jones lines one the other way and Wilson catches it only because his glove got in the way.
Cubs 2, Astros 1
The caffeine is kicking in and now I'll probably be up until 3 a.m. staring at the ceiling. It's a vicious cycle. Everett flies out deep to center. I'll get a pitch count on Zambrano in just a jiffy. Morgan Ensberg hits in the pitcher's spot and Zambrano plunks him in the hand. Expensive set-up guys Bobby Howry and
get up. Taveras pops out. Lamb strikes out.
Carlos Bernard sings TMOTTBG. Carlos Bernard? Oh, this guy's on "24"? Where's Greg Gugger when I need him?
is the new Astros pitcher. Carlos Bernard is a New Trier guy? Spare me. Len Kasper called him an Evanston native and Bernard got all snippy, saying he's actually a Wilmette native. Ahoy-polloi! Bynum sends one into the left-field corner and ends up on third. That's pretty rare: a triple to left field. Cedeno bounces out. Bynum stays at third while Carlos Bernard shares a heat-warming story about when he and his friends drunkenly snuck into Wrigley Field in the middle of the night and when the cops showed up they got out of it because one of his friend's uncle was a police officer. Tears here.
hits and grounds out. Now awkward silence in the booth, which is quite welcomed. Pierre draws a walk. Pierre takes second without a throw, but Womack grounds out. The Cubs get a leadoff triple and nada out of it.
Cubs 2, Astros 1
Howry enters the game. Decent job by Zambrano today. He threw 107 pitches, which does nothing for the people who were asking for the pitch count two innings ago. Burke singles to left. Berkman singles to right. Burke stops at second. Rather than bunt anyone over, Lane flies out to shallow center and he's not too happy about it. Roberto Novoa is now up in the pen. Wilson bounces to Walker at first who then makes a poor throw to second that draws Cedeno off the bag and the Cubs get didly. Bases loaded. Replays show that was a bad call. Cedeno held the bag. It doesn't matter.
Ausmus singles to right, driving home two runs as the Astros take the lead.
So now first and second with one out and Everett up. Everett pops out. Two outs. Orlando Palmeiro pinch hits and strikes out looking.
Astros 3, Cubs 2
Chad Qualls will pitch to Michael Barrett, who bloops a single to left. So much for that. Walker bounces into a double play. Solid eighth for Walker. Ramirez rolls out to third and the Cubs go down without much noise. We move to the ninth.
Astros 3, Cubs 2
Scott Eyre tries his luck on the mound for the Cubs. He picks up where Howry left off as Taveras singles to left. Lamb flies out to center after an very long at-bat. Could Eyre take any longer between pitches? Let's go. Eyre takes 20 minutes to walk Burke. To make matters worse he's no where near the plate. No, no one's booing at Wrigley. I think they're all asleep. Eyre strikes out Berkman. Dusty goes and gets Eyre thankfully and Novoa comes on. Novoa gets Lane.
Scott Podsednik's boy Brad Lidge comes on to try and close this out for the Astros. Jones goes down swinging quickly. And stunningly that's the first Cub to strike out today, Len informs us. Lidge gets two quick strikes on Bynum and then freezes him with a back-door slider, which is the only pitch Lidge has thrown.
hits for Cedeno. He bounces out and that does it for this one. Buh-bye. Swept by the Astros.
Final: Astros 3, Cubs 2
The Cubs pick a good time to fall 13 games under .500 with the