From the Cubicle

SportsBaseballMajor League BaseballChicago White SoxChicago CubsDivingJacque Jones

Try to contain yourself. Break out the hats and hooters because it is on once again: North vs. South, Jettas vs. Camaros. Cotts vs. Aardsma ... OK, let's not kid ourselves. Seriously, there may be more interest in this weekend's final of the storied Gold Cup between the U.S. and the hated Mexican national team than the Crosstown Classic Part II.

This is not a battle to determine which team is better but rather which is worse.

OK, all that said, it turns out to be a dandy of a pitching matchup between once and future aces: lefty Mark Buehrle of the St. Louis Cardinals against hot-headed righty Carlos Zambrano of the New York Mets.

Buehrle is 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his past two starts and Zambrano has allowed one earned run in his last 17 innings -- a couple of rays of light on the dark Chicago baseball landscape that's been under ominous light-hitting and fundamentally-unsound clouds for months.

Speaking of which, it better not rain.

For the Sox, Darin Erstad is back and longtime scouting director Duane Shaffer is out after 35 years. Harsh. For the Cubs, Jacque Jones maybe, could be outta here. And Ken Griffey Jr. in? Dunno. That's the rumor -- according to someone on my softball team. You can see I have my finger on the pulse.

Let us travel to the South Side of Chicago through the magic of television and the Internet. (I have no idea how either thing works--something to do with tubes--but God bless 'em both.) Late Friday afternoon baseball shortly from the land of five delicious flavors of Churros, U.S. Cellular Field.

Ah ... Churros, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Cinnamon-sugary, joy-filled fried treat. Plain, chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, Bavarian cream. Collect 'em all. Have a ball.

Somewhere in the distance, a cicada chirps.

Where were we? Right, lineups. Erstad leads off for the Sox and Aramis Ramirez returns to the Cubs' lineup as a DH.

First inning

ESPN broke into its afternoon coverage of the 2005 World Series of tiddlywinks to show its goldenboy of the moment Tony Romo toss out the first pitch. Here we go. Buehrle starts Alfonso Soriano off with a ball low and away. Soriano fouls a few pitches off and the count goes even at 2-2. Soriano rips a 3-2 cutter deep into the left-field bleachers for a leadoff homer. I think he spared everyone the back-pedaling down the line. Mike Fontenot hits a sinking liner to center where Erstad robs him of a hit with a diving catch coming forward. Hat goes flying. His ankle appears to be OK. Derrek Lee takes a called third strike on the outside corner. Nice pitch. Buehrle works fast but this is ridiculous. I barely have time to type. Not to be outdone by Erstad making a diving catch coming off the DL, Aramis Ramirez goes the other way for a solo home run to right that lands in the Cubs' bullpen. Mark DeRosa rolls one towards Juan Uribe to end the top half.

Cubs 2, White Sox 0

OK, so forget what I said about Erstad's ankle. He's been lifted for Luis Terrero, who leads things off for the Sox. DJ said Terrero is up there "cold as a stone." Hey, grab a bat. Who me? Thought I had the day off. Probably shouldn't have drank all that cough syrup. Terrero goes down swinging. Tadahito Iguchi strikes out on three pitches. Zambrano strikes out Jim Thome and the side.

Cubs 2, White Sox 0

Second inning

First and hopefully last Tony Romo update of the day: Rahula calls to say he and Amanda are sitting five rows behind Romo and his girlfriend. Romo's girlfriend, not Rahula's. Rob Bowen has a bat in his hand and he lifts an easy flyball to right. Jermaine Dye gloves it. Angel Pagan grounds out to the Gooch. Felix Pie swings at the first pitch and flies out to center.

Paul Konerko works the count full to which Hawk says, "Ball four, base hit right here 14." Instead he swings and strikes out. Four straight Ks for Big Z, who now faces AJP. 10-4, good buddy. Pierzynski pops up the first pitch, breaks his bat and third baseman DeRosa takes it. Dye pops out to Fontenot at second to end the second.

Cubs 2, White Sox 0

Third inning

Paging Tank Johnson. in his office. Now. Not good. Jim in Omaha on the message board raised a great point earlier about sitting Cesar Izturis and letting Zambrano hit. I'm pretty sure the DH has to hit for the pitcher. Hence Izturis at the plate right now. He flies out to Terrero in center. Buehrle strikes out Soriano looking at a pitch on the outside corner. Fontenot rips one down the right field line hooking ... foul. He strikes out.

And, no, the DH cannot hit for anyone but the pitcher in the American League. At other levels of baseball maybe but not in the AL. Rob Mackowiak is strikeout victime No. 5. Wasn't even close to that slider. Josh Fields strikes out. I sense a pattern. Zambrano thought he got Uribe, too, and jumped off the mound. But no. It was low. Wait, yes, he gets him on the next pitch.

Cubs 2, White Sox 0

Fourth inning

OK and to the board member who posted this: "Hated Mexican national team? Soldier Field will be 80%-20% rooting for Mexico this weekend." I was referring to fans of American soccer, not the 50,000 fans of the Mexican team that will be at the game on Sunday. They, obviously, like their team--a lot. And hate Landy Cakes--a lot. Well, that might go both ways. But back to good ol' American pastimes, Lee bounces a single up the middle. And for the inquiring (enquiring?) minds on the board, I'll place a call to Rahula between innings to clarify just who is Tony Romo's girlfriend. Don't think he's still with Carrie Underwood, is he? Ramirez is hit in his back shin with a pitch. So two on for DeRosa. Count foes full before Buehrle strikes out DeRosa swinging. Bowen hits into an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play.

Rahula has been texted. And for those on the board wondering about actual baseball matters, I guess Erstad injured his ankle on that diving catch. The replay showed he was limping a bit when he got up. Terrero pops out to short. Hey, a hit! The Gooch bounces a single between Izturis and the bag. The shift is on for Thome. The count goes to 3-1 and Zambrano isn't even close. Ball four. Game on--maybe. Two on with one out for Konerko. Konerko rips a 2-1 pitch hard but foul. He rips the next pitch down the left-field line and that hooks foul, too. "Dadgummit," quoth the Hawk. Konerko takes a pitch down the middle for strike three. He thought it was low and says something about it. Not enough to get tossed, but something. He may have had a point. Zambrano is pumped and will take it. Pierzysnki fouls off two pitches and falls behind 0-2. So Zambrano tosses up some sort of eephus pitch, but it's way outside. That had to be 40 mph -- perhaps an homage to Jacque Jones' arm. Pierzynski grounds out to second and the Sox leave two stranded on base.

Cubs 2, White Sox 0

Fifth inning

Pagan hits one to center. Tererro drifts back and takes it. Pie bloops one into shallow right. The Gooch grabs it on the run. Izturis grounds out. And no response from Rahula.

Dye leads off the bottom of the fifth. Yes, Hawk confirms Erstad aggravated his left ankle. I confirm that Dye strikes out. Mackowiak strikes out again and again looks bad while he does it, swinging at a pitch near his eyes. That's No. 10 for Zambrano. Fields rips one but it's right at DeRosa, who throws across the diamond and then finds a seat in the dugout.

Cubs 2, White Sox 0

Sixth inning

Soriano singles to left. Fontenot bunts but it's a bad one. Konerko gets it on one hop and fires to second to get the lead runner. Lee hits it deep to right but Dye makes the grab on the warning track. I thought that was gone. Buehrle jams Ramirez, who bloops a weak flyball to left. Onward.

Uribe pops out to short. Terrero tries to bunt himself on, but Zambrano pounces on it and throws on the money for out No. 2. The Gooch, who has the Sox's only hit, strikes out swining, No. 11 for Zambrano.

Cubs 2, White Sox 0

Seventh inning

To clarify and/or settle the DH debate that's still raging on the board, I have no clue. Sorry. DeRosa, the third Cubs Ivy Leaguer I can recall, pops out to second. The other two are Doug Glanville and Mike Remlinger. And ... no one cares. Bowen grounds out to short. Boone Logan and Nick Masset get up in the Sox's pen. Pagan grounds one up the middle that deflects right off Buehrle's foot to Iguchi, who throws to first. That's 1-4-3, for those of you scoring at the office. And that's that for the top half of the seventh.

Thome skies one to left. Soriano is there. Konerko drives a fastball into the left-field bleachers for a solo homer. Fireworks. Pierzynski follows with a single to right. That was ripped down the line but Pagan hustled over and held Pierzynski to a single. Dye chops one to DeRosa, who starts the inning-ending double play.

Cubs 2, White Sox 1

Eighth inning

Ten hours later, Rahula gets back to us on Tony Romo's girlfriend. It's not Carrie Underwood, he writes, but "some random." He also reports after Konerko's homer, Romo donned a No. 9 Sox jersey with his name on the back. Again, Romo's name, not Rahula's, which would've been precious, if not a little weird. Buehrle's line: Seven innings, two runs, four hits. Enter Boone Logan. Pie grounds to Uribe, who makes a nice play on the slow roller, transfers ever-so-quickly and guns it to first. Izturis grounds to second. Here's Ozzie and he wants righty Nick Masset to face Soriano. Good work by Logan. Soriano takes a ball and then pops out to Konerko in foul ground.

Mackowiak, 0-fer-2 with two strikeouts, leads off the eighth and grounds to Lee, who flips to Zambrano covering first. Lou Piniella strolls out there to check on Zambrano for some reason. He then turns and walks slowly back to the dugout. Not sure what was going on there. Maybe he thought Zambrano hurt himself covering first. Maybe he forgot where he was. Ozzie comes out to check with the home-plate ump, probably to ask if that counted as a trip to the mound. Nothing doing. And we continue. Josh Field bats and works the count full. Fields looks at a pitch right down the middle and then starts to first before the ump punches him out. Fields probably thought it was high, but it appeared to be a strike from this angle. Uribe flies out to Pagan in shallow right. We move to the ninth.

Cubs 2, White Sox 1

Ninth inning

Masset remains and he'll face Fontenot, who grounds a single up the middle. Lee walks and this is more like the Sox's pen we all know. Dandy Don Cooper strolls out there. Ramirez singles up the middle, scoring Fontenot. Whatever Don Cooper told Masset didn't work. And that's all for him. Ryan Bukvich will face DeRosa with two on and no one out. DeRosa bunts and the ball bounces off the plate and hits him right in the face. Not the correct tecnique, I'm going to say. This time he gets it down and both runners advance. Ozzie goes out there to discuss some pressing matters. The immortal Jacque Jones comes on to run for Ramirez--and may have a while ago, but I just found out about it. Bowen -- great D on LeBron in the Finals -- takes a walk. Ozzie comes out to get Bukvich in favor of lefty Matt Thornton, because, you know, you always want to turn the switch-hitting Angel Pagan around. The strategy works as Pagan grounds to Konerko, who throws home for the second out. Bases still loaded. Here's Pie. Bakers Square, are those still around? Pie pokes a single through the hole on the left side, scoring Bowen and Jones. Pie takes second on the throw from Mackowiak that's not even close to Pierzynski. Thornton is somewhere, but he's not behind the plate backing up the play. Mackowiak is charged with an error. Izturis grounds out to end the inning but the Cubs get three in the ninth off the Sox's pen. No news there.

Cubs 5, Sox 1

Ryan Dempster will try his hand at the bottom of the ninth. Ever been to the Pita Inn in Skokie on Dempster? Great falafel. Alex Cintron hits for Terrero and he gets a piece of Harold Baines with a foul ball. He jumped and the ball hit him as he was coming down. Poorly timed and pretty funny. He's OK. Cintron flies out to Pie in center. Dempster goes 3-0 to the Gooch. Fastball down the middle and the foul ball make the count full. The Gooch takes a called third strike on the outside corner that wasn't even close -- wasn't even in Bridgeport. The Gooch didn't like the call and you can't blame him. Ump's thinking like me -- it's dinner time. Thome grounds out to the shift and that's that.

Final: Cubs 5, Sox 1

The pitching matchup held up. The Sox's pen, well... That's it, everybody. Thanks for reading, posting, e-mailing, all that. Enjoy the NHL draft.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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