I know what's gotten into the Cubs.
It's not the injuries. It's not a mysterious inability to hit lefties. That's nothing new. It's not a lack of a deadline trade. It's the itch mites, silly. The Cubs have all been bitten.
They've lost 10 of their last 13 and it's clearly because they can't concentrate at the plate.
Derrek Lee has it the worst and it really flares up with runners in scoring position. Carlos Zambrano is not adjusting his cup, people.
Someone get these guys some hydrocortisone.
I'd blame this invasive bug infestation on Ozarkian Cardinals fans, but they haven't gotten here yet.
Speaking of which, smell that? It's Budweiser and it's the Cardinals breathing down everyone's neck in the Central. Paul Sullivan points out La Russa's band of thugs could leave town with the division lead.
Before things completely unravel, let's enjoy one more game against the Cincinnati Reds, which the Cubs need to win. C'mon Bobby Livingston is pitching.
I was out cold by the time last night's misadventure ended. A real back and forth affair that was before the Reds roughed up the Cubs' pen to close it out.
Lou Piniella used his 97th different lineup (is that even possible?) and considering that one ended about 25 minutes ago, we're likely in store for No. 98. Not having kept track of all 97, I'm not sure if today's lineup is any different. Ron Santo is playing third and Bob Brenly is behind the dish. They've played this year, right?
The Cubs do have one thing going for them today and it's not Jason Marquis, who toes the slab. It's the element of surprise. With the annual Air and Water Show this weekend, later this afternoon the F-18s will be buzzing Wrigley, perhaps sending Adam Dunn scurrying.
And can someone get us a Jose Offerman video already?
And we're off. Josh Hamilton takes a called strike from Marquis. Wind blowing straight in from left at 7 mph. Marquis makes quick work of Hamilton, striking him out looking at a sinker on the inside corner. Jeff Keppinger bounces one to Aramis Ramirez at third for the second out. Junior breaks his bat but still singles to center over the head of Mark DeRosa, who was in shallow right with the shift. Brandon Phillips grounds to Ramirez and I hope he's hurt because he barely ran to first. I think he is. He was doubled over as they went to break.
Kdog, yes, I saw the Offerman perp walk vid, too. I guess they don't film Independent League games, which, really, is for the best. Ryan Theriot takes a 3-1 pitch for a strike before walking. Mark DeRosa rips a double past a diving Edwin Encarnacion and down the left-field line; Theriot comes around all the way from first to score. Scored easily. They didn't even let the throw go through. That man was hustling. Lee sends one deep to right. Griffey turns one way, turns back towards the line and leaps and makes the catch right in front of the Under Armour door. DeRosa tags and takes third. Ramirez doubles to the right-center gap on the first pitch, scoring DeRosa. Jake Fox gets his double on--to left--scoring Ramirez. More bold. The Cubs hit four doubles in the second last night. Three so far here. Matt Murton works the count full. Murton hits it hard but it's right at Hamilton in center. Jacque Jones rips it the other way. He flips his bat, puts his head down. He thought it was gone but it hits off the top of the wall, sending bittersweet ivy flying. Fox scores on Jones' double, the Cubs' fourth of the first inning. Koyie Hill is out on a swinging bunt but the Cubs send eight to the plate and score four runs.
Cubs 4, Reds 0
Dunn homers to the right-field basket. Mongo like fastball. Scott Hatteberg "Picking Machine" walks. Javier Valentin flies out to shallow left. Encarnacion bounces one past Ramirez. Hatteberg holds at third on Encarnacion's double. Here's the pitcher Livingston. This guy can hit. And Marquis walks him after getting ahead 0-2. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild is up the steps and out there quickly. Marquis hits Hamilton on the left forearm, forcing in a run. Keppinger grounds one in the hole. Theriot dives and stops it but has no play. Another run scores. Griffey rips one off the wall over Fox's head ... and only one run scores. Hamilton held at third. They get Griffey between first and second. Not his fault; he was expecting to cruise into second with a double. Who the heck is holding people at third on a double off the wall? Brutal. So second and third with two outs. Phillips grounds to third but not before the Reds tie it.
Cubs 4, Reds 4
The Reds get four but it could've been worse. Theriot's diving stop perhaps prevented another run from scoring on Keppinger's infield single. And the Reds should've gotten two runs on Griffey's double. Marquis breaks his bat, pops it up and Livingstong makes the catch over his shoulder behind the mound. Theriot singles to left. DeRosa follows with a sinlge. With the runners moving, Lee bounces out to second. Itch mites. Ramirez grounds to short and it hits DeRosa. Inning over.
Cubs 4, Reds 4
Walgreens Celebrity Bat Kids alert. They got Felix Pie's autograph. Sweet! Dunn grounds out to DeRosa in shallow right. Hatteberg flies out to left. To clarify, yes, the ball hit DeRosa to end the second inning. Valentin lifts one to left that falls in front of Murton, who over runs the ball. It gets by him, allowing the battleship Valentin to take second. Encarnacion bounces out to Theriot.
Further clarification: the ball that hit DeRosa was heading towards the shortstop. To reiterate: Wind blowing in from left at 7 mph. Fox bounces out to third. Yes, that ball that hit DeRosa goes as a hit for Ramirez. We're moving on now. Ya hey dare, Yadier: Molina goes deep twice as the Cardinals takes a 3-0 lead. Murton lines out to short. You cannot keep Jacque Jones down. He goes the other way, the ball hits the line and bounces off the wall near the Cubs' bullpen. His second double today. But so much for that with Koyie Hill at the plate with two outs. Strike three.
Cubs 4, Reds 4
Mediocre righty v. mediocre lefty: Marquis v. Livingston to start the fourth. Livingston pops it up in foul ground and Ramirez gloves it near the tarp. Hamilton grounds out to Ramirez. Keppinger bounces out to short on the first pitch.
Deadspin pointed to this on the Connecticut Post site: Jose Offerman attack in pictures. Pretty horrible. No way this loser ever plays baseball again anywhere. See Carl Everett in there breaking things up? Marquis hits it to right where Junior charges and makes a nice sliding catch. He caught his knee in the turf and took up quite a divot. Junior won't catch this one. Theriot drives one to the gap for a double. DeRosa singles to right. Theriot runs right through Mike Quade's stop sign and scores from second. Seriously, Quade is pretty worthless. The guy has gotten in the way of Aramis Ramirez rounding third this year and also called timeout during an at-bat. He nearly fell over waving home Theriot earlier. Griffey again makes a nice sliding catch, robbing Lee of a hit. Ramirez pops out.
Cubs 5, Reds 4
Griffey leads off with a double to left. At least I think that's what happened. WGN was still at commercial. And it's not like they were showing a paid advertisement. It was something for the CW or something. DeRosa robs Phillips with a diving catch on on a sinking liner. Seriously has there ever been a bigger guy in baseball than Dunn? This guy is like Andre the Giant playing left. In fact he should play in that black singlet with the one shoulder strap. Full count to Dunn and he rips one down the first-base line. But Lee makes a great leaping catch and nearly doubles off Griffey with a throw to second. Nearly. Hatteberg walks on a close call but correct call. Valentin flies out to Jones in center to end it.
Free-swinging Jake Fox leads off the Cubs' fifth and bounces out to second. Some action in the Reds' pen. It's Everyday Eddie Guardado. Len reports that since he's coming off Tommy John surgery, he gets up only once a game. Murton singles to right. Jones fans. As scripted Koyie Hill strikes out to end the inning.
Cubs 5, Reds 4
Encarnacion strikes out on a pitch near his shoulders. Jason Ellison hits for Livingstone and lines out to DeRosa. Hamilton flies out to left and Marquis hasn't allowed a run in four innings.
Righty Gary Majewski is the Reds' new pitcher. Marquis pops it up to shallow center. Three reds converge, the fans get all excited hoping for a collision, but the shortstop and left fielder peel off and Hamilton makes the catch. Theriot grounds out to his counterpart at short. DeRosa lines his fourth hit over the shortstop's head. The scuffling Lee grounds to Keppinger who steps on second for the final out. I think Derrek Lee's been sitting too close to Koyie Hill on the bench.
Cubs 5, Reds 4
Elvis left the building 30 years ago today, Len reports. Marquis goes full to Keppinger before losing him. Ball four. Lead off walk. Those are never good. Here's Lou. And there goes Marquis. And here comes Scott Eyre. What does Lou call him, Davey? Eyre pitches to Griffey with a guy on. Kerry Wood gets up. Junior rips one but it's right at Fox. There's got to be a better way to say that. Phillips fouls a few off and the count goes full. In honor of Steve Stone, the ol' strike 'em out, throw 'em out. That ends the inning and that means here's Peter Cetera, wearing Amber Visions, to sing TMOTTBG. Ugh. Is he wearing one of Ron Santo's hairpieces?
Seriously, between the hair and the glasses, Cetera looks like he might be in disguise or just finished up testifying in the family secrets trial. Ramirez got on somehow. In honor of the late Phil Rizzuto, score that "WW" -- wasn't watching. Ramirez singled to center. Mike Fontenot hits in Jake Fox's spot and pops out in foul ground. Damn, BluBlockers is what I meant earlier. Not Amber Visions. "My name is Geek, I put 'em on for a shocker." Murton pokes a single through the hole on the right side and Ramirez takes third. The Reds make a pitching change and it'll be Mike Stanton pitching to Jacque Jones after this George Clooney Budweiser commercial. Somehow Peter Cetera survived the commercial break. Jones falls behind 0-2 and takes a ball high. Jones lines one off Stanton's leg. It makes a loud noise and bounces into foul ground on the first-base side. Ramirez scores. Murton stops at second. That looked painful. The trainer comes out but Stanton remains to face Koyie Hill. You don't need both legs for this. The planets and stars are aligned. Hill reaches on a flare, a dying quail, a dink, a dunk, a bloop just out of the reach of a diving Phillips on the grass in shallow right. A hit is a hit, says Cetera. I agree. Jason Kendall hits in the pitcher's spot and gets a nice hand for a valiant effort in losing cause last night. Bases loaded and Stanton falls behind 3-0. Ball four and Murton trots home. Cetera is now baffled by Theriot's nickname, The Riot, and asks Brenly if he came up with that. Brenly tells him that's the way it's spelled. Theriot knocks home two with a double to left over Dunn's head. Cetera channels Ron Santo and manages to get out about 10 "C'mon's" while that ball was in the air. That's it for Stanton. Unfortunately it's not it for the former Chicago frontman. He's now survived two pitching changes. Mike Gosling is the new pitcher and former Cub Mark Bellhorn comes in to play second on the double switch. DeRosa knocks home two more with his fifth hit, a single to center. He takes second as the throw home gets away. Lee is the ninth batter and there is just one out. It's now 11-4, if you've lost track. Lee takes a called third strike. Itch mites. It's time to give him a day off or something. Maybe Koyie Hill can show him a thing or two in the cage later. Ramirez scatters the Cubs' bullpen with a double down the left-field line. DeRosa scores. OK, I think that's more than enough. Fontenot who pinch hit earlier this inning gets another at-bat. You don't see that everyday. He's had enough, too, and strikes out.
Cubs 12, Reds 4
Young lefty Carmen Pignatiello will make his Major League debut and pitch the eighth for the Cubs. Fontenot stays in to play second. DeRosa takes his five hits and moves out to right. Dunn chops one to the right side and beats it out because Fontenot was playing in shallow right with the shift on. Len and Bob say they've never seen that. Can't say I have either. Hatteberg strikes out looking and who I assume is Pignatiello's girlfriend likes it. Valentin flies out to left. Encarnacion grounds to third and Pignatiello and his fetching significant other are pumped.
Murton lines out to third. Jones slaps the Cubs' 20 hit into left. He twisted his left ankle coming out of the box and limps down to first. Felix Pie comes on to run for him. Koyie Hill comes back down to earth and bounces into an inning-ending double play on the first pitch.
Cubs 12, Reds 4
Ryan Dempter comes on to pitch. Murton makes a decent sliding catch coming in to get Bellhorn. Hamilton singles to right. Keppinger bounces out. Hamilton takes second. Griffey walks on four pitches. Jeff Conine will hit for the pitcher and bounces out to Ramirez on the first pitch.
Final: Cubs 12, Reds 4
The Cubs bang out 20 hits, DeRosa five of them, and get a much-need win to move within a half game of the Brewers with the red-hot Cardinals en route. We'll be back tomorrow. Thanks for reading. Enjoy Steve Goodman.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times