It's been an eventful week for the Cubs. Dusty Baker returned. Alfonso Soriano left, hopping his way onto the 15-day DL with a calf strain he may or may not have tweaked while doing that little jump in left field. Carlos Zambrano responded to manager Lou Piniella taunts that he was just a "BP hitter" by getting three hits last night and, most importantly and surely most frightening, a freakin' mountain lion was shot dead just west of Wrigley Field.
I guess cougars have migrated west since they were forced out of their natural Viagra Triangle habitat with the closing of Melvin-B's.
Meow! Rim shot, please.
Baker's return has been a lot like his last two years as Cubs manager, lotta losing. Big losing. The Cubs have out-scored Dusty's Dudes 21-8 in two games.
Ted Lilly toes the slab today and his 0-2 record and 9.95 ERA don't tell the whole story. He's given up given 19 hits and 14 runs in 12 2/3 innings. In other words, not good. Good thing for him the wind has calmed from Hurricane Zambrano levels it reached the past two games.
Edison Volquez (1-0, 0.87) goes for the Nasty Natti.
Today's lineups reveal you won't have Corey Patterson to kick around today or his two siblings on the Cubs, Eric Patterson and Felix Pie. They all sit today.
Probably should've eaten lunch before this started. Lilly misses outside for ball one before Norris Hopper flies out to right. Ryan Freel flies out to right and I detect a trend. Junior sends one to left where Mark DeRosa circles the wagons before gloving it near the line. Good start for Lilly.
Volquez, a fastball-changeup righty, as Bob Brenly explains, gets ahead of Mike Fontenot 0-2. Fontenot grounds to the right side where first baseman Joey Votto makes a diving stop but then lobs it to Volquez, who just beats a sliding Fontenot to the bag. The sun peaks out as Ryan Theriot steps to the plate and bounces to third. Derrek Lee, who's hitting everything in sight and most of it out of the park, fouls off a few pitches. Volquez throws three straight balls and then gets Lee looking at something on the inside corner for strike three. Lee disagrees but doesn't have much say in the matter.
And, no, no Chinese food today. Rahula and I had Max Orient yesterday. Two items. The only sure thing for the Reds is Adam Dunn will hit a homer against the Cubs. It's a given. He hit one last night that landed on Sheffield before the big donkey could even get out of the batter's box. I believe that makes him the active home run leader against the Cubs with, correct me if I'm wrong, 34. Dunn pops it up. Ramirez drifts over near the stands, shields his eyes with his glove and nearly makes the grab reaching into the first row. It didn't help that he took a brick wall in the midsection. Lilly fans Dunn. That homer will have to wait. Jeff Keppinger singles. Edwin Encarnacion pops out to second. Lilly strikes out Votto swining on a full-count pitch.
Ramirez leads off the Cubs' half of the second with a broken-bat single to center. Kosuke Fukudome strikes out swinging at the change. Mark DeRosa gets ahead 3-0 and eventually walks, putting runners on first and second for Reed Johnson. Johnson pokes a single through the hole on the right side of the infield to load the bases. Both runners froze to see if that ball made it to the outfield, which is why Ramirez didn't score. Henry Blanco chases a ball low and away for strike three. So it's up to Lilly and he works it to 3-1. The bat should be glued to his shoulder for this pitch. Umpire Ron Kulpa makes a move to call strike two but then decides not to. Meh. The ol' fake out. Ball four and the Cubs get on the board. Volquez, all of a sudden all over the map and strike zone, goes full to Fontenot. The fans get up and then quickly sit down as Fontenot grounds out to first.
Cubs 1, Reds 0
Former Cubs backstop Paul Bako lines out to center on the first pitch. Volquez hits the second pitch and grounds out to third and I see what you mean about his picture. They have the same one on MLB.com. Nice wings. Hopper walks. With Freel up, Hopper takes second without drawing a throw from Blanco. Lilly hit the dirt like he was taking enemy fire. Freel eventually fans to end the top half and Lilly strolls back to the dugout like a man with an ERA under 9.00, which it might be now. I'll have to get out my calculator.
While the wind was howling out the last two nights, today it's shifted and is coming off the lake. With that come colder temperatures but it's good for Lilly. Bad for the rest of us. Theriot leads things off with a single to center. Lee and Theriot are both erased on the strike 'em out, throw 'em out. Len and Bob are talking about WGN executive producer Bob Vorwald's new book, "Cubs Forever." I guess he doing a signing somewhere tonight. I have a copy here on my desk that I haven't really looked at. Anyway, Bob says, "Lotta great photos in that book." So I arbitrarily poke a finger in it and open it up, right to a page with a picture of Len and Bob. Weird. I apologize for sharing that story. Ramirez draws a two-out walk. Volquez is throwing a ton of pitches. Another full count, this one to Fukudome, who grounds out to short.
Cubs 1, Reds 0
Here's to Craig Parshall, a Tribune Interactive designer, who just brought me lunch from the cafeteria after much begging from me over IM. Cheers. Strike one to Junior. Lilly gets him looking. Dunn walks. Regarding what I mentioned earlier about
Dunny Dunn, I guess, according to Brenly, it's 34 home runs at Wrigley Field, which is a lot. Keppinger singles to left. Encarnacion walks to load the bases. Someone wake up Larry Rothschild. There he is. He drops some knowledge on Lilly and scampers back to the shade of the dugout. As always, Larry's full of sage advice. On the next pitch, Votto clears the bases with a double to the right-field gap. Bako fans on a breaking ball out of the zone for the second out. Lilly goes full to the pitcher and he's really laboring now. Volquez flies out to shallow right to end this. And I didn't mean to call Adam Dunn "Dunny" at the top of this 'graph.
Reds 3, Cubs 1
So to the someone in the comments section who presciently quipped during the second inning, "We're halfway to Lilly's meltdown," I say well done. DeRosa draws a leadoff walk, his second of the day -- second walk of the day, not leadoff walk. Johnson singles to left, just in front of Dunny, who nearly made a shoestring catch and then nearly threw out DeRosa at second. Blanco's showing bunt all the way. He pulls the bat back and Bako throws down to second and almost gets DeRosa. Almost. Blanco pulls the bat back but takes strike two. He bunts with two strikes and bunts foul for the first out. Brenly is wondering why he was even bunting in the first place, let alone with two strikes. That whole episode was weird. Lou Piniella looks puzzled, more so than usual. Lilly shows Blanco how it's done with a nice bunt towards first that moves everyone along. Votto robs Fontenot of perhaps a double, certainly a single and definitely an RBI with a stabbing grab of a liner behind first.
Reds 3, Cubs 1
Someone happened. Not sure. I believe Hopper flied out to Fukudome. WGN was showing a Mr. Clean commercial. Freel lines out to third. They showed a replay of third base coach Mike Quade and first base coach Matt "Fly Me to the Moon" Sinatro discussing just what was going on with that Blanco at-bat. I'd like to know. Theriot takes two steps to his right and can't get a glove on a Junior grounder. That's a play he has to make. Dunn flies out to shallow center.
Theriot chases a high fastball for strike three. Volquez goes full to Lee and Lee isn't happy about Ron Kulpa's strike zone. Couple of questionable calls on pitches pretty low in the zone. Lee kicked some dirt after the second one. On a full count pitch, he grounds out to second. Ramirez strikes out swining and nothing doing for the Cubs in the fifth.
Reds 3, Cubs 1
Keppinger strikes out swinging. Encarnacion doubles off the base of the wall in left. Votto golfs one out to right for a two-run homer. Bako flies out to center. Volquez hits for himself and strikes out. Len says, "Let's see if Volquez heads back out there." That would be a new Dusty one, if he didn't. It's safe to say, if it comes to it, Lilly will not bat for himself in the bottom of the inning, nor will he be heading back out there.
Reds 5, Cubs 1
And Volquez doesn't, which shows you how much I know. Jared Burton, who's been warming for a while, is the new Reds' pitcher. Fukudome grounds to second. DeRosa bloops a broken-bat single to right. Johnson turns on a meatball and drives a double off the left-field wall. Here's Blanco, who bats with two on for the second straight time. He also batted with the bases loaded. Nothing has worked out. Let's hope they get the signs right this time. Blanco grounds to third; Encarnacion throws wide of first; DeRosa scores; Johnson stays put; I'm all out of semicolons. Daryle Ward hits in the nine hole with two on and one out. Ward skies one to center and the fans get all excited about a routine flyball out. Fontenot grounds to short. The Cubs get one back.
Reds 5, Cubs 2
A reader writes in to ask how many pitches Volquez threw and qualifies it by saying it's not a shot at Dusty Baker. Volquez threw 112 pitches. Jon Lieber, who's just entered the game for the Cubs, has thrown three pitches, one ball and two strikes to Hopper. Hopper grounds to a charging Theriot, who boots it. A rather unsmooth play there. Freel bunts right back to Lieber, who turns to throw to first but has to eat it because no one is covering first. Mike Fontenot? Paging Mike Fontenot. Junior pokes a three-run homer to center, No. 596 of his career and a three-run homer that should never have happened because of an error at short and the other half of the vaunted Cajun Connection MIA at first, but anyway... Dunn flies out to center; Keppinger to right. Encarnacion doubles to the leftfield gap. Votto, who's killing 'em today, flies out to left. Here's Tom Arnold, who's seen Roseanne Barr naked, to sing TMOTTBG.
Reds 8, Cubs 2
Theriot grounds out. Arnold appears a bit over-served. He's hoping Griffey hits No. 600 today. Full count to Lee and he chases one away for strike three. And to be fair and I promise last word on this because I would like to have an appetite by dinner time, Roseanne has seen Tom Arnold naked, so there's that.. And further evidence that there is a God, Ramirez grounds out to end the quickest bottom of the seventh ever, thankfully interrupting the Tom Arnold interview about his latest straight-to-DVD project.
Reds 8, Cubs 2
Bob Howry is aboard. Paul Bako triples to the right-field corner. You read that right. And that extends his hit streak to nine games. Again, you read that right. Fontenot's relay to third was on the money, but Bako slid right into Ramirez's glove and knocked the ball loose. Now we get word it's ruled an error no Ramirez, so no triple for Bako. Brenly says that's a tough error and he has a point. Corey Patterson pops out to Theriot. Hopper grounds back to Howry for the second out. Freel knocks in Bako with a single to right. Here comes Lou Piniella and there goes Bob Howry. Enter lefty Sean Marshall to pitch to Griffey. Junior grounds out to second.
Reds 9, Cubs 2
David Weathers is the Reds' new pitcher and he still looks like Tackleberry from the Police Academy canon. Fukudome grounds out. DeRosa is drilled right in the side. Brenly thinks it was intentional. Johnson singles to left and he's 4-for-4. Blanco flies out to right. Here's Eric Patterson to hit in the ninth spot. Oh, yeah, Corey remained in the game to play center. Patterson flies out to left and we move to the ninth with the Reds leading 9-2.
Reds 9, Cubs 2
Michael Wuertz, having a rough go lately, joins this one and gets Dunn to dribble one back to him. Keppinger flies out to center. Encarnacion flies out to left and the Cubs have some work to do in the bottom half.
The window open in here or what? I'm blowing on my hands to keep warm. Todd Coffey, yes have some, is the latest Reds hurler. Fontenot bounces out to second. Theriot grounds to Encarnacion. The ball eats him up, bounces up in air, but he recovers and makes a nice play, spinning and throwing a pea across the diamond to get Theriot, who now looks shaken up. Lee rolls one towards third. This time Encarnacion slips and falls on his butt. He still throws but can't get Lee. It's like he's bored and just making up games within the games for himself over there. So it's Ramirez's turn in the Adventures in Encarnacion. He back-hands it behind the bag and throws wild of second. Juan Castro, who's playing second now, didn't do his third baseman any favors with a bit of a spastic and poorly-timed stretch for the throw. Two on and two outs for Fukudome. He takes a called third to end it.
Final: Reds 9, Cubs 2
That's it, everyone. Thanks for reading. Not the best effort from the Cubs today, pitching, fielding and, oh, yeah, hitting with runners on. Watching this debacle was I would assume somewhere along the lines of gazing upon a naked Roseanne Barr. Maybe. I don't know. We'll be back for more tomorrow because it wouldn't be a week in April without the Cubs playing the Pirates. See you then.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times