The Cardinals and
have made their way down from Milwaukee for this huge series with
And, really, it doesn't get much bigger than this.
To refresh and recap: The Cubs managed just one win against the Reds. The Cardinals have won five straight and just swept the
. The Cubs are a half game back of the Brewers in the Central. The Cardinals are 2 1/2 back. The Cubs lost 96 games last year. The Cardinals won the World Series. The Cubs have lovable, little guy
. The Cardinals have the evil
Unfortunately the pitching matchup doesn't match the magnitude of the series.
. Lame. More unfortunate for the Cubs is Looper has pitched well of late, winning his last two starts, while Hill has thrown up a big, fat squadoosh in his last five toes of the slab.
"But he's still a kid," Cubs brass and fans cry. No, he's 27. Not a kid, no offense to any of you 27-year-olds out there.
An underreported story, with the itch mites,
and the Cardinals in town for a massive NL Central showdown, there apparently is a
. Again, Cardinal fans.
Of course the news of the day is the signing of
to a ton of money. As always
was all over it.
. La Russa bats Looper eighth.
has said he won't do that because it's a slap in the face to the 8 hitter.
Let's get going on this beautiful Floppy Hat day at Wrigley. It's much cooler than it has been and appears there's a slight breeze blowing in. Eckstein fouls off about 30 pitches before grounding out to second. Something minor is wrong is wrong
but I'm not sure what because Rahula was talking when Len was telling us about it. Ryan Ludwick pops out to
who fights the bright sunshine.
grounds out and Hill goes 1-2-3 in the first.
Someone on the board who's watching TV, let me know what's up with DeRosa. Thanks.
works the count full and then rolls out to second.
, whom I predicted yesterday would be given the day off today because he tweaked his ankle, plays today, bats second and strikes out. Lee, who's really struggling, continues to struggle and strikes out looking.
Thanks to reader Kyle Karraker, more
, not to be confused with Edwin, who was here yesterday, flies out to Jones. Hill fans
. Hill knocks down
and the fans like it. Hey, who doesn't? Hill just misses on a 1-2 curve. He comes back and gets Edmonds to chase a ball away for strike three. Hill looks good so far.
Ramirez draws a leadoff walk. The immortal
gets the start in right today and bounces into a 3-6-3 double play. Nicely done by Pujols. Murton bounces out to second. And you know what they say about leadoff walks coming back to get you? Well, forget all that.
Yadier Molina flies out to right. Here's the Looper, batting eighth. I'm with La Russa on this. If the position guy who you put in the ninth spot gets his feelings hurt because he's hitting behind the pitcher, well maybe he should hit better to begin with. Hill strikes out the Looper looking. Though, La Russa does it with an AL mentality in mind; you get a so-called second leadoff guy batting ninth. Anyway, DeRosa had a cortisone shot in his hip today, which is why he's not playing. Brendan Ryan, batting ninth, singles and immediately asks, "Why am I hitting here again?" Eckstein draws a walk and sprints down to first base. Easy there. At this point his little hustle act is just that, an act. Ludwick hits with two guys on and two out and flies out to Ward, who does a little
Fontenot squirts one to left. Ludwick charges and makes a nice sliding/diving catch. The Looper james Kendall and Kendall grounds out to Rolen. Hill strikes out and seriously the homeplate umpire, Angel Hernandez, made the call and then immediately looked skyward to take a peek at the Thunderbirds flying overhead. The Air and Water Show this weekend.
Pujols leads off and again the umpire is distracted by the planes. Hey, we got a game going on down here, buddy. Pujols singles to left. Encarnacion pops out to Lee. Rolen strikes out. Kendall throws down because Pujols bluffed to second. Kendall's hand hit Rolen and the homeplate ump Hernandez calls Pujols out because Rolen interfered with the throw. Double play. Inning over. La Russa whips off his transition lenses and comes out to argue. We go to commercial.
Kendall, who hit his hand on Rolen's shoulder, went up the tunnel for a bit and is now back on the bench working on his hand. He appears to be OK. He's a catcher. He's tough. Theriot singles to right for the Cubs' first hit of the day. The second baseman Ryan makes a nice play on a Jones chopper and gets Theriot at second. Jones beats the throw to first.
takes a called strike on the outside corner. Not that I know what I'm talking about but he needs to either fight those off or move closer to the plate. When did he turn into
? Anyway, Jones takes off for second. Lee strikes out swinging and Jones knocks the ball out of Ryan's glove and is safe. Molina appeals for interference on Lee. Lee ducked out of the way. There was no contact. Here comes La Russa again. La Russa has a few things to say but to no avail. What's lost here is Molina's throw was on the money. Jones was out had Ryan held onto the ball. You really have no argument. They put Ramirez on. Ward grounds out to Pujols, who flips to the Looper covering.
Edmonds flies out. Hill walks Molina and Looper will try to bunt him over -- at least the Cubs think so with Ramirez creeping way in on the grass. I just spilled really old coffee all over my desk. Two strikes on Looper. He shows bunt, pulls the bat back and is called out on strikes. Good thing he's in that eighth spot for that. Ryan sends one deep, deep to center. Jones was playing in, but retreats back, and back some more to makes a great catch on the dead run on the track just feet from the wall. He turns at the last second, crashes into the ivy and holds on. Tremendous play to save a run.
That catch was awesome. Jones got a standing ovation as he got to the dugout where all his teammates were waiting his high-fives. Yes, Jones has no arm whatsoever, but he can certainly go back towards the wall and get 'em, as he's done numerous times this year. As so often happens when a guy makes a great play in the field,
leads off the bottom half and is robbed of a hit by a diving Ludwick in left. Fontenot flies out to Ludwick. No dive needed this time. Kendall lines out to Edmonds and we move to the sixth in this scoreless draw.
Kdog, I drink tea in the afternoon and coffee in the morning. Sadly, I can't remember when that coffee was from. I hope this week. Eckstein strikes out swinging. Hill fans Luckwick too. Seven strike outs for Hill on about 260 pitches. Pujols fouls one off near the Cubs bullpen and into the crowd. Theriot runs right into the rolled up tarp. Who put that there?
Hill goes 2-2 to Pujols who hits a high fastball into the left field bleachers.
A bad pitch from Hill way up in the zone and Pujols made him pay. Encarnacion grounds out to Fontenot.
Cardinals 1, Cubs 0
Hill, who's thrown 107 pitches, leads of the sixth and tries to reach on a bunt. But he can't get it past the Looper, who's like a cat, and pounces on it. Theriot singles to left.
Jacque Jones, Cubs legend, goes the other way for a two-run homer.
Boo that. How about a curtain call for that? Maybe not. Lee draws a walk. Pitching coach Dave Duncan comes out to chat with Looper as Russ Springer and some other guy get up in the Cards' pen. Ramirez hits it right at Encarnacion in right. Ward squibs a scratch double the other way down the third-base line. Mike Quade holds Lee at third.
gets up in the Cubs pen and good thing Hill led off the inning. Murton flies out to Encarnacion, but the Cubs take a slim lead on Jones' homer.
Cubs 2, Cardinals 1
Hill remains in the game. Rolen flies out to right. Edmonds grounds to Fontenot. Hill gets two quick outs and good thing he led off the bottom of the sixth. Molina bounces out and we stretch.
sings TMOTTBG in the same stadium he hung six TDs on the
. He sings faster than he runs -- or ran, at this point. Whoa.
Randy Flores comes on to pitch for the Cardinals. Fontenot grounds out to second. Kendall strikes out chasing a ball in the dirt. Great,
has a bat in his hand. I don't think he should be allowed to touch the equipment. Might as well let Hill hit and then bring in Marmol to pitch the eighth. Cedeno grounds out to second on a 3-1 pitch to end the inning.
Cubs 2, Cardinals 1
takes over in center; Bobby Howry on the mound. Jones moves to right. Chris Duncan, the Cards' former left field butcher, hits in the pitcher's spot. Duncan strikes out and takes his seat next to his dad on the bench. Ryan bunts it in the air and Howry grabs it. Eckstein singles to center just in front of Pie. Rick Ankiel hits for Ludwick and the Cardinals fans in the house get their jorts in a bunch. The count evens up at 2-2 and ... Ankiel fouls one back. Eckstein takes off for second and beats Kendall's throw. Full count and Howry walks him. Not good. Pujols digs in. Ball one inside. Ball two inside and if I my ears work correctly, I believe there is a "Let's go Cardinals" chant going. Popped it up. Jones charges shading his eyes. Fontenot runs back and Fontenot takes it. I'm going to point out the obvious and say that was a pretty big out.
Righty Russ Springer joins the party on the mound. Duncan takes over in left as an anti-defensive replacement. Theriot flies out to right. Cubs great Jacque Jones strolls to the plate, gets a great hand and rolls out to Brendan Ryan or Ryan Brendan at second. Lee strikes out. Again. Hold on to your floppy hat, everyone; here comes
Cubs 2, Cardinals 1
Dempster starts Encarnacion off with a ball low. A low ball, if you will. Ball two. Encarnacion lines one to left but right at Murton. Hard hit, but an out's an out. Rolen bounces out to second on the first pitch. Edmonds takes two balls. Dempster comes back to even the count 2-2. Edmonds skies it to left. It settles in the glove of the Red Headed one. Cue Steve Goodman.
Final: Cubs 2, Cardinals 1
The Cubs take the opener from the hated Cardinals on Jacque Jones day at