On a day when the makers of one of get downright litigious with area night spots, a somewhat caffeinated and hopefully properly-hydrated Carlos Zambrano tries to brew up some trouble against Milwaukee.
Wow. Sorry for that.
Zambrano starts are always entertaining. It could go any direction at any moment. There's a possibility of something great, but also of an emotional meltdown, a dugout dustup, bats snapped across knees, much stalking and rearranging of the furniture and mostly but not always, however certainly likely, forearm cramps, followed by references to electrolyte replacement beverages, Chiquita bananas and IM'ing his brother in Caracas.
And as always, whenever Zambrano toes the slab, remember, kids: Gotta stay hydrated. Always.
Welcome to the proletariat on this May Day version of From the Cubicle. Please check your fur Cossack hat at the door.
Speaking of which, a famous Cuban was at Wrigley last night kicking the tires, looking under the hood, taking in the view from the owner's box. Mark Cuban, whose chances of buying the Cubs everyone says are about as likely as the Mavericks getting out of the first round of the playoffs, was there in all his anguished facial expression glory.
Right-hander Yovani Gallardo goes for the Brewers today in this rubber match of the three-game series and he's pitched well this season with a 0.64 ERA in two no-decisions.
Alfonso Soriano is back and, as expected, batting leadoff. If you think he should bat ninth or platoon with Daryle Ward, direct angry missives and rants to the comments section.
And how about those Champions League semis? Nothing...?
Today's lineups. Baseball soon.
Now that Zambrano has gone through a 10-minute series of complex high-fives, hip bumps and a little wack-a-mole on Mike Fontenot's head, we're ready to go. Rickie Weeks leads off for Milwaukee and grounds out to third on the second pitch. The Cubs are in their hideous alternate blue tops on an awesome 70-degree day in Chicago after a brutal cold spell. Mike Cameron pops out to Derrek Lee. Zambrano's pitch count through 2/3: 4. Left fielder Ryan Braun reaches on an error by DeRosa at second. The only vegetarian in the history of Milwaukee, Prince Fielder works the count full before grounding into the shift for the third out.
Soriano, Fonzie to some, appropriately making his return against Milwaukee, gets a decent hand as he steps in. Soriano grounds out to third on the second pitch. Apparently he didn't learn any patience in his time off. Ryne Sandberg up in the booth. This is pretty cool: The Class A Peoria Chiefs, whom Ryno manages, will play the Kane County Cougars at Wrigley July 29. Ryan Theriot singles to center. Lee grounds into a fielder's choice; Theriot out at second. Ramirez fans to end the first.
Laura in Milwaukee on the board makes an excellent point about Wisco vegetarians. There are some but no vegans, which makes sense in the land of cheese. There also are plenty of beeretarians up yonder. Corey Hart rips a single back through the box nearly taking off Zambrano's glove hand. Bill Hall pops out to DeRosa in shallow right. On a full count to Craig Counsell with Hart running, the Cubs complete the ol' strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play.
SI cover guy Kosuke Fukudome leads off the second. Fukudome rips a single to right. I haven't finished that SI story, but apparently he had no idea the Cubs hadn't won a World Series in close to 100 years until someone asked him about it at his introductory news conference. That's not exactly the kind of info the Cubs are going to share while courting the guy. DeRosa strikes out, bringing up Geovany Soto, who hit two three-run homers last night and threw a guy out in the top of the inning. Soto takes a called third strike on the outside corner, just not the outside corner of the plate. More like outside the park: Sheffield and Addison. Bob Brenly does not approve of home plate umpire Brian O'Nora's strike zone, to put it mildly. Reed Johnson flies out to Cameron in center to end the second. So long, second.
Speak kindly of me, Blake. Zambrano throws two strikes to his counterpart, Gallardo, batting eighth and not a bad hitter. He pops out to shallow right. Jason Kendall grounds out to second. Weeks gets ahold of an offspeed pitch and sends a two out double to the wall in left. Soriano does not hurt himself going to get it. A wild pitch allows Weeks to take third. Cameron fights off a 2-2 fastball, fouling it off to the right side. Cameron drives it deep to center but Johnson runs it down just before the track.
Zambrano drives one deep the other way and out for a solo homer to leadoff the top half of the inning. Some longhaired dude in the left-field bleachers is a bit way too excited. My god, my man, calm down. Big Z's big fly goes 370 feet the other way and into the hands of some freak. Soriano grounds out to third. Theriot lines another single to center. Lee bounces back to Gallardo, who starts a 1-4-3, inning-ending double play.
Cubs 1, Brewers nil
Apologies for the missing at-bat in that last inning. I got a little caught up in that unwashed guy having a conniption fit. You didn't miss much; Soriano grounded out to third. Braun legs out an infield single on a ground ball in the hole on the left side. Braun takes off on a full count to Fielder, but Zambrano misses and walks the Big Tofu and Lentils. Two on and no outs for Hart. Hart hits it sharply to third. Ramirez steps on third and throws across the diamond for a 5-3 double play. Fielder on second and two outs for Hall. Zambrano walks Hall and then stalks around the mound for a bit. Zambrano escapes by striking out Counsell looking at a sinker.
Ramirez chases a curve way outside and in the dirt for strike three. Fukudome pulls a single to right. With Fukudome running on the pitch, DeRosa pops out to Fielder. Fukudome scrambles back to the bag safely. Soto flies out to center and we go to commercials.
Cubs 1, Brewers nil
Speaking of commercials, I thought this new Nike spot they aired at halftime of yesterday's Chelsea-Liverpool match was pretty good. Looked a lot better on a big TV than on some crappy flash video on Youtube, but whatever. Gallardo grounds to third; Lee picks Ramirez's low throw and one down in the fifth. Kendall grounds out to short. Weeks lifts a full count pitch foul and near the Brewers' pen; Fukudome makes a running catch right near the wall for the third out.
Johnson bunts one to the right side and mass chaos ensues. Fielder makes the play, chases Johnson to the bag. Gallardo, over covering first, has to jump over the sliding Johnson and comes down awkwardly on his right leg, hyperextening his knee. Fielder got he tag on Johnson and he's out and likely so will be Gallardo, who is up trying to walk it off, flexing his knee, doing squats. He'll throw a few warm-up pitches to see if he can go. Gallardo is just coming back from surgery on his left knee, but this was clearly the other leg. It looks like he'll stay in. Not to be a jerk, but I would bunt again. Hey, this ain't Tiddlywinks. Zambrano lines the first pitch right at Hart in right. I thought Soriano was back today. Is he even in there. Oh, here he is. He grounds out to short.
Cubs 1, Brewers 0
Cameron flies out deep to Johnson on the track. Braun ties the game with a solo homer to left on a low fastball. Fielder pops it way up to right. Johnson and Fukudome converge, bump into each other and the ball pops out of Johnson's glove. Fielder ends up on second. Johnson gets the error because he's the one who had it in his glove. Zambrano just misses on a 2-2 pitch to Hart. And more stalking and rearranging the furniture. No biggie: Hart chases a slider away for the second out. Hall singles to right. Fielder's chugging around third. Fukudome comes up throwing. The throw beats Fielder to the plate. Fielder crashes into Soto with a high elbow, knocking the catcher backwards, mask and helmet go flying, but Soto hangs onto the ball for the third out. Fielder picks himself up and pats Soto on the rear as if to say no hard feelings. Soto doesn't appear too upset. Maybe he's unconscious. Exciting play.
Cubs 1, Brewers 1
Theriot singles. Lee grounds into the hole at short. Counsell smothers it and dribbles a throw towards second that gets past Weeks. Theriot tries to take third, but Fielder backing up the play, throws him out. Lee takes second. Brenly doesn't like the aggressive play by Theriot. He was out by a few feet. Ramirez fouls off a 3-0 pitch. Zambrano, who's over 100 pitches, is drinking some Gatorade on the bench. Maybe he's coming back in. Ramirez walks. Runners on first and second with one out for Fukudome, who reaches on a swinging bunt towards third. Bases loaded for DeRosa. Len says this makes it 12 straight games where the Cubs have had a bases-loaded situation, which seems like a lot to me. DeRosa takes a big swing at a hanging breaking ball and misses it completely to fall behind 1-2. DeRosa sends a flyball not that deep to left, but Lee takes off and slides home safely just beating a pretty good throw by Braun. Soto doubles to the left-field corner. Ramirez scores but Fukudome is out at the plate. Replays show be slid right under Kendall's high tag. Lou Piniella comes out to argue ... and we go to commercial.
Cubs 3, Brewers 1
Nothing doing on the argument. Counsell flies out to right for the first out. Anyway, Fukudome was, like, totally safe on that play. Counsell's throw was right on the money. All Kendall had to do was leave his glove on the ground in front of the plate and Fukudome slides into it. Yet he picked it up and the runner slid right under it. Regardless, he was called out. Moving on. Tony Gwynn hits for Gallardo and singles to center. With Gwynn running, Kendall inside outs a single to right and that brings Piniella out of the dugout. That's it for Zambrano. Carlos Marmol inherits runners on first and third with one out. Zambrano's line: 6 1/3, 7 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, 7 cups of Gatorade on 111 pitches, of which 71 were strikes. Mike Fontenot comes in to play second on the double switch and will bat ninth. Marmol goes full to Weeks and strikes him out swinging. Marmol's struggling with the command a bit, falling behind 3-0 to Cameron. The umpire O'Nara bails him out with a generous call and then Cameron swings through two pitches. End of inning. Here's U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito to sing TMOTTBG. No, it's Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker, who was booed doing this last season. Alito is in the house, though. Uecker sings his customary "Root, root, root for the Brewers; you do the same for the Cubs..." I've always liked that.
Johnson flies out to Hart in right. Fontenot singles in his first at-bat. Soriano pops out to Fielder, drawing a smattering of boos. Cameron robs Theriot of a single and a 4-for-4 day with a shoestring catch in center. Onward.
Cubs 3, Brewers 1
Sign seen in the bleachers: "Ron Santo is hot." Marmol remains. He'll face Braun, Fielder and Hart in the eighth. Felix Pie replaces Johnson in center. A guy with a lot of change in his pockets keeps jingling by my desk. Laundry day or something? Marmol strikes out Braun. Fielder is endangering everyone in sight. He just turned on a pitch and lined a wicked liner into the crowd. Marmol strikes out Fielder looking at a backdoor slider. That's four straight strikeouts. Hart bunts for a basehit on the first pitch. Len and Bob call that a good piece of hitting. I call that gutless and cheap. They're probably right as it brings the tying run to the plate in the form of Bill Hall. Hall flies out to Fukudome.
Righty David Riske is the Brewers pitcher, by the way. Lee flies out to Hart near the Milwaukee pen. Riske strikes out Ramirez on a pitch up and away. Kerry Wood warms in the Cubs pen. Actually, he's just standing there. Fukudome, 3-for-3, coaxes a full count. Fukudome, now 4-for-4, rips a single to right. Daryle Ward will hit for Marmol and lefty Brian Shouse replaces Riske. Shouse throws one pitch to Ward and then picks off Fukudome. Nice work, if you can get it.
Cubs 3, Brewers 1
Kerry Wood joins the party and drills Counsell in the elbow with the first pitch. Shades of Opening Day. Gabe Kapler will hit for the pitcher. Kapler hits it deep to left, just out of Soriano's reach. It falls for a double and one-hops the wall to put runners on second and third. You've got to make that catch. Kendall grounds it up the middle. Theriot smothers it to keep it in the infield, but Counsell scores. They thought about sending Kapler as the ball bounced away from Theriot. First and third, no one out for Weeks. Wood falls behind 3-0. He walks him to load the bases. Here's Larry Rothschild to impart some of his wisdom on Wood. "Throw strikes," he presumably tells him and throw strikes he does, getting ahead of Cameron 0-2 and nearly gets him looking at a fastball just off the outside corner. Cameron swings through a high fastball for the first out. So the double play is in order. Unfortunately it's Braun at the plate. Braun swings at and misses a slider. Braun then drives in two with a double over Fukudome's head. Weeks was out at the plate on the play. Braun ends up on third. Like Soriano before him, Fukudome miss-judged that ball going back to the wall. Fiedler grounds out but the Brewers take a 4-3 lead.
Brewers 4, Cubs 3
Eric Gagne v. Ronny Cedeno. WGN just showed a replay of Piniella over-turning a mini-cooler in the dugout after that bases-loaded double. Cedeno draws a walk. Soto, swinging for the fences, swings and misses twice and then takes a called third strike on the outside corner, a pitch that alternately has been called a ball and a strike for both teams in this game. "Flip a coin," Brenly says of Brian O'Nora's strike zone. Pie bounces into a game-ending double play. Tough loss for the Cubs.
Final: Brewers 4, Cubs 3
"This one hurts," Len Kasper says. And he's not just speaking for Geovany Soto, who was on the business end of a Prince Fielder collision at home plate. Nevertheless, thanks for reading, everyone. Now get back to work. We'll see you next time.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times