The second half can't possibly be as bad as the first, can it? Who are we kidding? A few more broken wrists, torn rotator cuffs, sucker punches, "evaluation periods" and blown saves set to the familiar Wrigley Field serenade of constant booing, and we're on the way to 105 losses. Of course it can get worse. This is the Cubs, after all. And just wait till you see what Corey Patterson has in store for the second half.
The formerly hated New York Mets, the finest the National League has to offer, make their lone trip to Wrigley Field this season for a three-game series. They trot Steve Trachsel out to the mound. I'm not sure what's more surprising, that he's still in baseball or that has an 8-4 record. The Sloth's won his last six starts, to boot.
The Cubs counter with Greg Maddux as Dusty Baker officially is on the clock.
As Paul Sullivan wrote in this morning's paper,
"For Baker's players to save his job, they will have to learn to win at home, hit left-handed pitching, hit in the clutch, play fundamentally sound baseball and get a little pitching from kids and veterans alike."
Good luck with all that, guys. The little pitching they had just got thinner with . But, hey, the Cubs are "hot." They've won their last three thanks to the Milwaukee Brewers' decision to take an early All-Star break.
Today's lineups and we're off...
Former White Sox iron-handed shortstop Jose Valentin starts things off with a double off the top of the wall in left. Paul Lo Duca grounds to the right side to move Valentin along. Carlos Beltran chops one to Derrek Lee, who thinks about throwing home but steps on the bag instead. Valentin scores and the Mets take a quick lead. Carlos Delgado looks at a pitch on the inside corner for strike three.
Mets 1, Cubs 0
It's good to see Trachsel still takes 40 minutes between pitches. Actually, no, no it's not. Juan Pierre lines out to shortstop Chris Woodward. Todd Walker flies out. Lee lines a double to the right-center gap. If anything Trachsel's slow pace gives the Comcast producers more opportunities for their Babe Shots. So far we're averaging about four babes per at-bat, more if the count goes full like it is to Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez draws a walk. Now this is the appropriate time to jog to first, Aramis. Jacque Jones rips a deep double the other way that bounces off the top of the wall, scoring two runs. Michael Barrett bounces out to second but the Cubs take the lead.
Cubs 2, Mets 1
OK, the auto-refresh should be working now. Sorry about that. And is everyone else as sick of David Wright as I am? First pitch bloop out. Good. Now get back in the dugout. Cliff Floyd lines the first pitch for a single. Yeah, what's up with the Walgreen's bat kids today? No Stepford waving at the camera. They just showed them milling around in the dugout before they were no doubt ushered inside the clubhouse to pick up some jockstraps off the floor. Have fun, kids. Xavier Nady bounces back to Maddux, who starts a 1-4-3, inning-ending double play.
The bat-flipping Angel Pagan leads off the top of the second. I'm pretty sure it goes against the unwritten rule of baseball to flip your bat on your first or second career homer as Pagan did last week. He bounces out and gently drops his bat to the ground. Ronny Cedeno flies out to right. Traschel strikes out Maddux.
Cubs 2, Mets 1
Maddux gets Woodward looking. Gets Traschel swinging as they show Carlos Zambrano in the dugout waving. Maybe the Walgreen's people have gotten to Big Z. Oh, dear. Jose Valentin bounces out and bring on those wacky Red Roof Inn cats.
Seriously they show two RRI ads per commercial break now. They're like book ends on the rest of the stuff. Chances of the Cubs picking up more advertisers at this point are remote. Pierre shows bunt. No news there. Pierre lines one to left where Cliff Floyd I think is asleep. He wakes up in time to make a leaping, back-handed catch out of what should've been a routine fly ball. Exciting stuff there. Walker bounces out to Woodward. Wright robs Lee of a hit with a nifty play at third. Yeah, so the guy's good.
Cubs 2, Mets 1
Lo Duca lines a single to right. Beltran hits it throught the hole on the right side for a single. Maddux again strikes out Delgado on a change-up. He owns that guy. Yeah, yeah, more David Wright. He drives home Lo Duca with a single to left, his 75th RBI. Floyd rips one past a diving Lee to drive home Beltran. Wright trots into third on the double. They put Nady on to load the bases with one out. Woodward grounds to Walker, who flips to Cedeno who throws wild to first, allowing two runs to score. Nady really took out Cedeno. Trachsel bats with two outs and Woodward on second. Maddux walks Trachsel. Will Ohman gets up in the Cubs' bullpen. Maddux sees that (I really don't know that) and then strikes out Valentin.
Mets 5, Cubs 2
Traschel quickly gets Ramirez and Jones before Barrett pokes a single through the hole. Pagan swings at the first pitch and lofts a lazy flyball to left. That possibly was Steve Trachsel's quickest inning ever--seven pitches.
Mets 5, Cubs 2
Lo Duca pops the first pitch in foul ground and Barrett backs off letting Ramirez get his cardio in for the day. Beltran strikes out swinging and Delgado flies out to Pierre. Maddux has himself his own seven-pitch inning.
Cedeno bounces to Woodward who back-hands and makes a strong throw to first to get the runner. Nice, snappy play. The grounds crew is at the ready because we may have some rain here shortly. The radar shows it would be a quick shower. Maddux hits it deep but Beltran catches up to it. Pierre grounds to Woodward and all of a sudden Trachsel is rolling along at a Mark Buehrle pace.
Mets 5, Cubs 2
They come back from that annoying American Idol guy singing about Fords and it's pouring and the tarp is on. Bring on TWIB! Love the theme music. Things I've learned: Jim Leyland was drafted by the Tigers in 1963, Pudge Rodriguez has a statue of himself at his Miami home and Curtis Granderson wears sneakers with velcro straps. It's still pouring here in the 60611 zip code and I can only assume it's doing the same north of here in the 60613. Carl Crawford's straight steal of home never gets old. That has to be the greatest moment in the storied history of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
At 3:13 p.m. the tarp is off, the grounds crew is spreading Diamond Dry around and Len says we'll be under way in 15 minutes from now.
...and we're back. The sun is shining, Maddux still is on the mound, it's like a new game. Unfortunately the Cubs are down three runs. Wright grounds out to his counterpart Ramirez. Floyd flies out to Pierre. By the way, that was a 45-minute rain delay for those of you who keep track of such things in a weathered spiral notebook. Nady bounces out to Cedeno and Maddux isn't messing around anymore. Quick.
Things I've learned today, Part II: Diamond Dry actually is ground up corn cobs, reports Mr. Dry on the message board. Endy Chavez replaces Carlos Beltran in center for the Mets. Trachsel remains on the mound. Walker bounces out to Valentin. Lee fouls off a few pitches, has a questionable call on a check swing go against him but eventually draws a walk. Ramirez sends it to deep center, but not deep enough. Chavez gloves it at the edge of the track. Jones also flies to Chavez.
Mets 5, Cubs 2
I'm not sure what inning we're in. Seventh, I think
Woodward rips one to left, it bounces off something--the seats, the railing?--and then heads to the corner. Woodward stops at third. Willie Randolph comes out to argue and the initial call is no home run despite the fact the replay clearly shows it hit the railing behind the basket. A blown call by the umpires goes the Cubs' way as it's ruled a triple. Eli Marrero hits for Trachsel as Will Ohman gets up again in the bullpen and is joined by Scott Williamson. Marrero flies to Pierre and Woodward tags and scores. Valentin singles. Lo Duca pops one down the right-field line, where Jones loses it in the sun and lets it fall right in front of him. How many balls has he lost in the sun this season? I've lost count. Valentin steals second. Valentin steals third. Barrett didn't have a chance there. Valentin had a huge lead and took that off of Maddux. With the infield in, Lo Duca grounds to Cedeno who looks Valentin back before throwing out the runner. Chavez rolls out to Walker and all of Valentin shenanigans got for naught. Former Cubs second baseman Glenn Beckert sings TMOTTBG and then finishes with, "Let's go Cubbies. There's a lot of games left."
Mets 6, Cubs 2
Aaron Heilman, the Mets' new pitcher, strikes out Barrett. Yes, the sun is now shining. Didn't I mention that? Pagan grounds out to the pitcher. Cedeno hits it down the third-base line where David Wright makes another sweet play and strong throw.
Mets 6, Cubs 2
Not-so-crafty lefty Will Ohman comes on and fans Delgado. Ohman gets a little craftier. He strikes out Wright and then drills Floyd in the arm. Dusty goes and gets Ohman in favor of Williamson. I fixed the Cubs' seventh. I know everyone was dying to read about Angel Pagan hitting one back to the pitcher. Sorry about that. The immortal Neifi Perez takes over at short. With Nady up Floyd steals second. Nady hits it off the leg of Williams, who scrambles to find the ball and throw out the runner. He then limps back to the dugout. Score that 1-1-3. Did I get all the outs in that inning? I hope I did.
Wow. I meant to write "Floyd steals second" not "Floyd strikes out." I had four outs in that inning. He stole second. It's a test for you guys. At any rate, message board favorite Neifi Perez leads off the bottom of the eighth as Roberto Novoa gets up in the pen. Neifi takes strike three right down the middle. Pierre grounds out to Woodward. Duaner Sanchez is the new Mets' pitcher. Can't really rely on Comcast for that information. Walker lines one down the left-field line and, uh, stretches that double into a single. Floyd got over there quickly but made a bad throw to second. Anyhoo... Lee works the count full before drawing a walk. Ramirez strikes out to kill any hope of a rally. We move to the ninth.
Mets 6, Cubs 2
Novoa will face Woodward to open the ninth and walks him. Oh, sweet, a Julio Franco sighting. First pitch and he bounces into a 6-4-3 double play that is saved by Derrek Lee, who jumped to snare Walker's high throw and put a swipe tag on Franco, who, I guess, runs well for a 47-year-old. Valentin singles. Text book: Lo Duca singles through the hole on the right side and Valentin takes third. Larry Rothschild comes out to talk to Novoa as Scott Eyre starts to throw. Chavez bounces out and it looks like we'll see Billy Wagner in the bottom half.
Yes, here's Wagner in a non-save situation. This should be quick. One pitch, one out. Jones grounds to second. Here's the true kiss of death: Len starts reading the credits with one out and Barrett up. Gotta have some faith. Barrett hits it high off the wall in right for a double. Pagan hits it back to Wagner and still no bat flip. Phil Nevin, hitting in the pitcher's spot, possibly is the Cubs' last hope. Nevin lines an RBI single to center. Neifi bounces out to short to end it.
Final: Mets 6, Cubs 3
So much for that three-game winning streak and so much for a fresh start to the second half. Thanks everyone for reading and editing. Stay positive and have a great weekend.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times