After attending last night's game, I think baseball should adopt a clock--at least for meaningless games that I attend on week nights. Rich Hill and the Cardinals' Jeff Weaver took their sweet time getting shelled.
But I was surprised at how well the Cubs played.
They turned some uncharacteristic nifty plays in the field. Todd Walker made two diving stops, Aramis Ramirez, of all people, dove to his left to spear a line drive, Juan Pierre made a nice running catch in right-center, Jacque Jones risked life, limb and the back of his head making a backwards leaping catch in the right-field well and FTC reader favorite Neifi Perez turned a nimble double play to end it. Four of those plays made Sportscenter's Top 10 plays, though, I think ESPN packaged the two Walker's gems into one.
Could this be related to the news that Dusty Baker this season? It makes you think.
All in all it was a pretty good game by the Cubs and a good night at the park, until some Ozark hillbilly spilled half his beer down my back.
This should be fun. Well, at least we can pretend that it is. The Cubs have owned the hated Cardinals this year, winning seven of 10. Will today be any different? Let's find out together.
The lovable yet pesky David Eckstein grounds out to Aramis Ramirez to get this baby going. Chris Duncan skies one to left where Angel Pagan doesn't have to move to catch it. Albert Pujols digs in and hears some boos or maybe those are Cardinals fans yelling "Pooooooooo-jols." Marmol fans Pujols for a snappy, 1-2-3 first.
Juan Pierre lines a double past Pujols. Todd Walker flies out to Duncan in left. Michael Barrett has been hitting everything in sight in July and swings through the first pitch from Marquis. A sinker gets by Waukegan Gary Bennett and Pierre takes third. Barrett bounces one to Scott Rolen at third who looks Pierre back to the bag and then throws out Barrett. Ramirez grounds to short and the leadoff double is so wasted, dude.
Marmol fans Rolen. Juan Encarnacion calls time as Marmol is in his wind-up, so the next pitch is up and in. Then away for strike three. Jim Edmonds hits it over Jacque Jones' head and disappears into the ivy. Jones throws his hands up in the air and it goes for a double. Marmol strikes out Hector Luna. Young guy's looking pretty good so far. Yes, it's the second inning.
Jones bounces a single up the middle and again the leadoff guy is on. John Mabry flies out to left and again the Cubs get the leadoff guy on but fail to move him over. Jones takes off for second but Angel Pagan bounces back to Marquis, who starts an inning-ending double play.
Apparently Marmol wants no part of Waukegan Gary Bennett and walks him. All of a sudden Marmol can't hit squat. He falls behind the pitcher Marquis 2-0. Marmol walks Marquis and someone jabs the sleeping Larry Rothschild with a pen and he trots out there to say something. Eckstein bunts it right back to Marmol, who goes to third to get Waukegan Gary Bennett, but Ramirez gets greedy and his throw to first is way high. Marquis scores on the error by Ramirez. Eckstein ended up on second. Ramirez had no play there. Duncan grounds out but Eckstein takes third. Pujols reaches out across the plate and sends an RBI double the other way to the right-center gap. Rolen takes a called third strike, but the Cardinals pick up two runs, which is what happens when you walk the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters.
Cardinals 2, Cubs 0
Cedeno flies out to right and he's now 0-fer-6,000 in July. Marmol strikes out. Pierre grounds out to Eckstein. Despite not putting the leadoff hitter on in the third, the result is the same: Nothing.
Cardinals 2, Cubs 0
Marmol walks Encarnacion to open the fourth. So Marmol doesn't walk only the 8 and 9 hitters. Encarnacion steals second and doesn't even draw a throw. Edmonds flies to Jones and Encarnacion tags and takes third. The infield moves in with Luna at the plate with one out and a guy on third. Luna rips one past a drawn-in Ramirez, scoring Encarnacion, but Luna is thrown out at second by Pagan. Marmol throws one up and in that puts Waukegan Gary Bennett on his fanny. Bennett walks. Marquis grounds to Mabry to end this top half.
Cardinals 3, Cubs 0
Walker rips a double the other way off the wall and just beats Edmonds' throw to second. Barrett grounds to the right side, moving Walker along. Ramirez goes the other way to the right-field corner and look at him go! An RBI triple for the usually loafing Ramirez. Jones grounds to Pujols, who stops Ramirez with an evil eye before stepping on first. Mabry hits one deep the other way for a two-run homer to left to tie this one. Pagan singles to right and the Cubs have hit for the cycle this inning. Even Cedeno gets a hit--a bouncer up the middle--so Marquis can't be long for this one. Marmol rolls to Rolen, who looks at second but decides to go to first. But his throw is high and everyone's safe. Albert Pujols doesn't like the call and neither does Tony La Rusa's mullet. Replay shows the mullet's got a point. Looks like Pujols landed on the bag before Marmol crossed it. Pierre rips it down the line past a diving Pujols, scoring Pagan, Cedeno and even Marmol, who runs right through Chris Speier's stop sign (insert your own joke here). A bases-clearing triple for Pierre. Walker draws a walk and La Rusa strolls out to the mound to get Marquis. This outing may actually lower the guy's ERA. We go to commercial and here comes that American Idol nitwit. Must find remote. The Red Roof Inn guy took it. Josh Kinney will face Barrett with runners at the corner and two outs. Barrett's not interested in seeing what this guy has to offer and pops up the first pitch. But the Cubs send 11 to the plate and score six runs.
Cubs 6, Cardinals 3
Right, Chris Speier. I thought Len called Kinney a lefty, but I'm not blaming him. The more likely scenario is that I'm hearing things. Marmol retires Eckstein but walks Duncan. Pujols pops up a 3-1 pitch that Cedeno gloves on the grass. Rolen flies out to Pagan on the first pitch.
They already showed the Walgreen's Bat Kids, but they cut away before they were hypnotized into waving zombies. Sorry I didn't mention this earlier. Kinney remains on the mound and he's still throwing with his right hand. Ramirez pops out to Pujols. Jones grounds out to Luna. Mabry takes a called third strike.
Cubs 6, Cardinals 3
Not sure what goes on in the Cubs' clubhouse between innings but Todd Walker just came out wearing Neifi Perez's jersey. The umpires made him go change back to his No. 7. Encarnacion walks and that gets Roberto Novoa up in the Cubs' pen. Edmonds helps out Marmol by popping out to left on the first pitch. Marmol walks Luna, No. 7 on the day, and here comes Dusty to get him and make a double switch. Phil Nevin will play first and Mabry takes a seat. But before anything Dusty gives Marmol quite the pep talk on the mound. Bennett rolls into a 6-4-3 double play.
Pagan singles to center and radio guy Pat Hughes will sing TMOTTBG. Another tough act to get by the Cubs promotion department. Pagan wants to steal, the Cards pitch out and Cedeno reaches across the plate and fouls it off. Nice. It doesn't do him much good because he strikes out on the next pitch. With Nevin up Pagan steals second for his first career steal. There's a delay now as the Cubs hold a ceremony at home plate to mark the occasion. Nevin strikes out and Pierre lines out.
Cubs 6, Cardinals 3
John Rodriguez hits for Kinney. Novoa pitches for himself. Rodriguez strikes out. Eckstein singles to center. Duncan singles and the takes a huge wad of dip out of his mouth. Pure class. Pujols represents the tying run as Michael Wuertz gets up in the Cubs' pen. Novoa strikes out Pujols on three pitches. Novoa gets ahead of Rolen 1-2 before drilling him in the shoulder with a fastball to load the bases. That was close to his head. Major issues: Encarnacion hits a pea off the wall in left, scoring two runs. That's it for Novoa. Dusty yanks him for lefty Scott Eyre, who had just gotten up in the pen. Here we go: Eyre against Edmonds with runners on second and third and two outs. Eyre fans Edmonds looking with a fastball on the outside corner. Here's Hughes, who's wearing a white shirt with green Hawaiian print, black belt, tan pants and back shoes.
Cubs 6, Cardinals 5
The Looper, Braden Looper takes over on the mound and will face Walker. Walker flies out to Rodriguez in left. Barrett grounds to Rolen, who doesn't make an error this time. The Looper drills Ramirez and Ramirez makes a move towards the mound before Waukegan Gary Bennett steps in. A total La Russa ordered hit after Rolen got drilled. Ramirez had some words for the Looper, as well. No warnings were given, which is good because something might really get started next inning. Jones lines a single the other way; Ramirez has to stop at second considering that the ball was hit to left and all. Matt Murton makes a brief appearance and grounds out. Actually, he forced Jones at second.
Bobby Howry is the latest in a long parade of pitchers today. Luna pops out to Pierre. Oh, hey, I saw the Empire Carpet guy walking up the ramp at the game last night. Huge local celebrity sighting. Scott Spiezo pinch hits and quickly finds some bench after taking a called third strike. Rodriguez pops out to Pierre in shallow center and no one got plunked that inning.
Pagan bunts for a hit. For those of you scoring at the office, Yadier Molina has taken over behind the plate for Waukegan Gary Bennett. Cedeno squares to bunt and gets drilled right in the wrist. He's down in a heap. Home plate ump Ed Montague is saying it's a foul ball. Dusty loses it and gets run. Dusty is really going at it, spikes his hat as he leaves the field. The replays show Montague might have a point. At any rate, Cedeno appears to be OK. Cedeno gets the bunt down with two strikes and moves Pagan along. Nevin grounds to Eckstein who throws to third and it's not even close. Not sure what Pagan was doing trying to take third on a ground ball right in front of him, but it worked. First and third for Pierre. Pierre draws a walk to load 'em up with one out. Walker grounds to Pujols, who starts a 3-2-2 double play to end the inning. After all that...nothing.
Cubs 6, Cardinals 5
Ryan Dempster enters and gets Eckstein to ground out to short. Hey, Nicole on the message board, thanks for the support. I saw Paris Hilton in person at Soldier Field the weekend she was dating Brian Urlacher. I was more impressed with the Empire Carpet guy. Former White Sox guy Aaron Miles hits for Duncan and bounces back to Dempster for the second out. Pujols grounds to Cedeno and Dempster has himself a 1-2-3 inning.
Final: Cubs 6, Cardinals 5
Somethings are hard to explain. The balk rule, string theory and the Cubs' ownership of the Cardinals this season. Who knows? Anyway, thanks for tuning in and have a great weekend. Enjoy the heat.