I've got my afro blown out, pulled the seersucker out of mothballs, had someone tie this bow tie for me and my left finger is bigger than Prince Fielder thanks to a line drive in last night's big softball win.
But like Joakim Noah, I'm all hustle and energy, if not a bit annoying.
Welcome to a Friday edition of From the Cubicle as the far north suburban Milwaukee Brewers take in a weekend in the city.
Today's it's Yovani Gallardo for the Brewers against Cubs Rich Hill, who could have his left hand full with Gorman Thomas, Cecil Cooper, Ben Ogilvie, Paul Molitor, Robin Yount and the rest of Harvey's Wallbangers.
This lineup should be to your liking.
The Cubs are on a roll, but yet they're still a game below .500 and 7 1/2 games behind first-place Milwaukee. Together let's see if they can make a dent in that lead, shall we? Come along now.
Another stirring rendition of the Anthem by Wayne Messmer and we're off on this cool, windy afternoon. Corey Hart, who's got a 14-game hit streak going, leads things off. Ol' tubby Bruce Froemming is behind the plate today and he calls the first pitch a strike. Hill missed on two big curves and the count evens up 2-2. Hart fouls off a few pitches before waving at a curve for strike three. JJ Hardy walks and Rich Hill already has hit 80 on the pitch count. Ryan Braun lines one past a diving Aramis Ramirez at third. Price Fielder waddles to the plate with two on and one out and takes a curve off the shoulder. Bases loaded for Bill Hall. Wind report: Blowing in from left. Not sure of the speed. Flags are flapping but not like crazy, if that tells you anything. Hall dumps a blooper over Derrek Lee's head and it lands just foul--by inches. Hall straightens it out a bit and hits an identical bloop that falls between Mark DeRosa and Cliff Floyd in shallow right. Hardy scores. Johnny Estrada with one out and the bases still full of Brewers works the count full. Estrada knocks in Braun with a sac fly to right. Kevin Mench, who's walked once in 161 plate appearances, according to Len, hits a three-run homer into the right-field bleachers. Walks are overrated, if you can do that. Rickie Weeks grounds to Fontenot, who drops it. Pitcher Yovani Gallardo gets to bat before throwing a pitch. Scott Eyre gets up in the Cubs pen. We're in for a long one. Gallardo grounds out to Ramirez to put an end to this nightmare. The fans give a sarcastic cheer as the Brewers send nine to the plate and batter Hill for five first-inning runs.
Brewers 5, Cubs haven't even batted yet
Hill threw 45 pitches in the first. Not good. Gallardo strikes out Alfonso Soriano on three pitches. Braun, in on the grass at third, makes a diving stop and throws out Fontenot. Lee flies out to Hall in center and that inning was as short as the top half was long.
Brewers 5, Cubs 0
OK, Hill's back out there for more fun in the second. He strikes out Hart for the second time but hit the 50-pitch spot in the process. Hill walks Hardy, and if memory serves, this is how the first inning began. Another long at-bat as the count goes to 2-2 to Braun. Len takes this opportunity to have a conversation with himself. Brenly doesn't even respond. Braun strikes out. With the shift on, Fielder goes the other way towards Ramirez and he has to eat it. Infield single. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild is out there about 30 pitches too late. Froemming breaks up the confab. Hall fouls off a few pitches before striking out swining. The Brewers strand two.
The Brewers put the shift on for Ramirez, and like Fielder, he foils it with a base hit the other way. Floyd flies out to center. DeRosa singles to center and the Cubs have something cooking. Perhaps. Perhaps not. Rob Bowen takes a called third strike on the outside corner. The count goes full to Felix Pie and he strikes out looking.
Brewers 5, Cubs 0
Typo alert: I meant the Brewers put the SHIFT on for Ramirez. They didn't all put on a special SHIRT when he came up to bat, though that would've been something. Estrada rips it right at Ramirez, who stays with it and has time to throw out the runner. Mench pops one to shallow right. Three Cubs converge and the ball goes off DeRosa's glove. They give him an error. And now they rule it a hit. I guess that's correct. That would've been a tough error. Weeks hits it to Ramirez, who takes forever getting rid of the ball and they can't turn two. They get the lead runner, but Weeks is safe at first. On his 92nd pitch, Hill strikes out his counterpart Gallardo.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Hill will not lead off the bottom half. Instead it's fan favorite Jacque Jones and he flies out to right. Hill packs up his stuff in the dugout and heads to the clubhouse, where he'll have plenty of time to figure out his ERA. Gallardo is blowing 88 mph fastballs right by Soriano, who eventually strikes out on a check swing at a curve in the dirt. First-base umpire Mike Winters calls him out. Fontenot grounds weakly to Weeks to the end the inning.
Brewers 5, Cubs 0
Billy Petrick, come on down. You're the next contestant. Hall hits a single by Ramirez, who probably should've made that play. Hardy strikes out and Bowen throws out Hall at second for the ol' strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out. Somewhere Steve Stone called that before it happened. Ramirez robs Braun of, perhaps, a double with a leaping grab of a line drive.
Lee walks to start the bottom half of the fourth. Ramirez breaks his bat but still hits a double to the left-center field gap. Lee stops at third. Floyd chops one to Fielder at first, he looks back Lee at third, but then runs into Gallardo after he tags out Floyd. Lee hustles home. Ramirez takes third. The first pitch to DeRosa goes to the backstop and Ramirez scores. Credit Ramirez there for a heads up play taking third on the Floyd grounder. Ball four to DeRosa and here comes pitching coach Mike Maddux and his moustache. Bowen lines out to short. Pie takes another called strike three. Someone on the board mentioned earlier that he must think he gets four strikes. Makes sense to me. But the Cubs get two back.
Brewers 5, Cubs 2
Fielder flies out to left. Replays show that pitch to Pie was borderline low but with the hideous, horrible Froemming back there, what are you going to do? Petrick blows Hall away with some high heat. Estrada grounds out to DeRosa and Petrick has quick inning.
After pinch hitter Cesar Izturis pops out to third, Soriano doubles down the right-field line. Fontenot stikes out. Dear Lord, what has happened to the great Mike Fontenot? Lee grounds out to second and Soriano's double is wasted.
Brewers 5, Cubs 2
Mensch does the impossible and draws a walk. His first unintentional walk of the year. Michael Wuertz is the Cubs' new pitcher, by the way. He strikes out Weeks. Gallardo grounds to DeRosa who tags out Mensch between first and second. Mensch gets in DeRosa's way as he tries to throw to first and is whistled for interference. Automatic first down and an inning-ending double play.
Ramirez grounds one up the middle, but right into that infernal shift. Floyd singles up the middle. Mench makes up for that interference by making a nice sliding catch to rob DeRosa and nearly doubles up Floyd off first. Bowen strikes out to end the sixth.
Brewers 5, Cubs 2
Wuertz remains and strikes out Hart. He's fanned three times. When he did get on, he was thrown out trying to steal. Hardy flies out to Pie. Scott Eyre is up in the pen for about the 30th time today. Braun singles to left. Fielder fans and here is WGN radio person Steve Cochran to sing TMOTTBG. Oh, boy. He's screaming -- a lot.
Carlos Villanueva comes out of the Brewers pen to pitch. Pie walks and blesses himself as he trots to first. Angel Pagan hits in the pitcher's spot. Pagan hits a full-count pitch through the hole on the right side. With Pie running all the way, he takes third easily and the Cubs have runners on the corners with no one out and Soriano coming up. Soriano takes a ball and then fouls one off. Froemming calls a pitch up in the zone a strike and Soriano and Piniella don't like it. Soriano then waves at a pitch low and away for strike three. Hey, there's the Mike Fontenot we know. He singles to left, scoring Pie. And there is a baby crying somewhere in the newsroom. You don't hear that everyday. That's it for Villanueva. Pitcher Matt Wise enters the fray and will face Lee with runners on first and second. Lee lines one right at Hall in center. So it's up to Ramirez. Ramirez strikes out on a pitch in the dirt. The fans let out a collective groan as The Cubs blow a golden opportunity.
Brewers 5, Cubs 3
Carlos Marmol, whom I thought was the new closer, comes on to pitch the eighth. Hall flies out to Floyd in right. Marmol fans Estrada. Mench pops one down the right field line and Lee takes this one on the run. Keep DeRosa away from those.
Goofy Derrick Turnbow will pitch the eighth for the Brewcrew. Turnbow strikes out Floyd and here's DeRosa who was swinging a bat with a five-pound weight plate on it in the on deck cirlce. He fouls one back that gets a piece of Froemming. Boy, you really hate to see that. Big target. DeRosa pops one foul and the count goes full. Turnbow whips ball four to the backstop. But rather than hustle to first, DeRosa bends over and takes off his shin protector. OK, not that there was a real chance he could've taken second. Daryle Ward will hit for Bowen. Turnbow throws a couple in the dirt, the second one gets by Estrada and DeRosa takes second. Ward strikes out on a high fastball. Another questionable call by Froemming on an inside pitch to Pie. Pie grounds back to Turnbow and we go to the ninth.
Brewers 5, Cubs 3
Not that Froemming had anything to do with Hill giving up five runs and throwing 45 pitches in the first, but I think he has it in for Piniella who kicked dirt all over one his crew members. Bob Howry comes on. Let's hope everyone can stay in their seats. Weeks lines out to Soriano. Tony Graffanino will hit for Turnbow while Brewers closer Francisco Cordero warms in the pen. Graffanino walks. Hart singles to left just in front of Soriano. Lefty Will Ohman jumps up in the Cubs' pen. Hardy pops out to DeRosa. Howry goes full to Braun with Fielder looming on deck. Braun thinks it's ball four and heads towards first, but no, Froemming rings him up and you can read Braun's lips, "Oh, my god." Seriously, the sooner this guy retires the better.
Cordero, leading the majors in saves, comes on to try to close this out. Turnbow to Cordero is a tough combo. Ryan Theriot hits and pops out to second. Soriano singles up the middle, bringing the tying run to the plate in Fontenot. Fontenot pokes a single through the right side and Soriano takes third. Would be big time for Lee to hit that elusive homer. He quickly falls behind 0-2 and then takes two balls. He flies out to right, but Soriano scores. Ramirez hits the first pitch -- and knows it immediately -- into the left-field bleachers. Ramirez hops down the first-base line as he watches the ball. Game over. His teammates mob him at home and do that walk-off homer jump thing as the crowd goes nuts. He crushed it.
Final: Cubs 6, Brewers 5
Well, talk about bailing out the young Rich Hill. And that immediately improves the mood of everyone on the message board. Have a great weekend, everyone.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times