A great man once said, "Let's play two."
A much lesser man once wrote, "Let's Cubicle one."
And so here we are. After a rainout last night, the Cubs and Atlanta Braves play two today, the first of which we'll bring you in living type. The second of which, you're on your own. It's on Comcast Sports Net Plus, so you can flip back and forth between the game and the men's 3-meter synchronized springboard diving final on NBC.
I've been on vacation and am still catching up a bit. But I did catch Lou Piniella talking over the weekend about possibly benching the struggling Kosuke Fukudome. Now some people think he's backing off that. But isn't this the way Piniella sends messages? It didn't mean he WAS going to bench Fukudome, who's hitting .227 since the All-Star break, or even that he thought about benching him but just that he thought about saying he might bench him. So he threw that out there.
I'll throw this out there, too: Today's lineups, in which Fukudome hits second.
Jason Marquis goes against good, ol' Charlie Morton from Hot 'lanta. I'm a bit tired after staying up way too late watching that poor gymnast let an entire nation down and the ensuing interview that went something like this:
NBC reporter: Alicia, you totally blew it. How does it feel to let your entire team down by falling not only on the beam but also on the floor exercise, an event you won the freakin' world title in in 2005, no less?
Alicia Sacramone: It feels horrible. I don't know what happened.
NBC reporter: You've trained your entire life for this. You were left off the squad four years ago in Athens only to make it this time and then fall twice. Your teammates did their part. What were you thinking when you were sprawled on the floor?
Sacramone: It was horrible.
NBC reporter: Did you rattle your entire team by falling? All you had to do was stay upright and you would've won the gold and beaten the smog-producing, cheatin' Chinese 10-year-olds on their own soil. Michael Phelps beat the cheese-eating, trash-talking French. So what happened to you? Your thoughts on letting down an entire nation?
Sacramone: Well, I was the only one who fell, so I think they were rattled...
NBC reporter: Would you cry already?!
So even live 90-kilogram judo on NBC's Olympic site,couldn't put me to sleep. I eventually cried myself to sleep to event jumping in the wee hours.
The weather is fine in Atlanta and it looks like there are about 40 people in the stands at Turner Field. And we're off. Morton, the right-handed rookie, starts off Alfonso Soriano with a fastball and the Cubs left-fielder fouls that off. With the count even at 2-2, Soriano slices one down the right-field line that lands just foul. Soriano swings and misses at a high fastball for strike three and the first out. Bob Brenly wonders if Fukudome will go back to the more patient approach he showed earlier in the season. He does take a ball but then flies out to center. Derrek Lee grounds a single through the hole on the left side. Aramis Ramirez grounds to short to end the top half of the first. No runs, one hit and no errors.
Jason Marquis is 0-3 with a 14.00+ ERA in four starts against his former team, so this should be good. Full count to Gregor Blanco and he grounds out to short. Yunel Escobar nearly doubles down the right-field line but, like Soriano's ball in the top of the inning, it's just foul. Marquis hits Escobar with the next pitch and he takes his base. Chipper Jones, hitting, oh, .370, fouls one back and it gets a piece of Geovany Soto. The catcher's in pain, but he walks it off. Jones pats him on the head, which is nice of him. Lee makes a nice play on a ground down the line, falling to his knees and slapping first with his glove to get Jones. He fires to second but Theriot drops the ball. Two outs with Escobar on second for Brian McCann. McCann hits it hard but it's right at Mark DeRosa and that, my friends, ends the first inning.
With all that out of the way, welcome everyone reading, posting, lurking and pretending to work. Yes, this is a spot start for me and a bit of a surprise, but I'm ready. I hope. Fan favorite Jim Edmonds digs in and draws a walk. What, no standing ovation for that? Cubs fans are getting a little clap-happy with this guy. On a full count, Edmonds takes off. He can coast into second because it's ball four to DeRosa and the Cubs have two on with no outs with Soto up. Soto gets ahold of one, sending it deep to the right-field gap to score both runners. The many Cubs fans in attendance up and cheering but they're making it be known that they're only cheering for Edmonds, for gracefully cutting the third-base bag. ChicagoSports.com contributor Ryan Theriot gets way ahead in the count 3-0 before taking a strike right down the middle. He walks on the next pitch and Bobby Cox doesn't look all that pleased in the Braves dugout. The bullpen stirs to life with runners on first and second and still no one out. Marquis fouls off two bunt attempts. I think he did that on purpose so he can swing away. Marquis fights off a few pitches to stay alive. There's strike three, which is better than a double play but worse than a sac bunt. With Morton all over the joint, you would think Soriano would show some patience here, right? Not so; he strikes out swinging at three pitches, including a change-up way up in the zone for the final strike. Fukudome works the count full but then bounces out to short to end it.
Cubs 2, Braves 0
As someone on the board mentioned, here's a video of Alicia Sacramone dropping some guy, who needs to pull up his shorts, with a left hook. Teddy Atlas would approve. Casey Kotchman flies out to Soriano in shallow left. Soriano covered some ground there and made a nice running catch, especially for him. Omar Infante lines out to short. Marquis strikes out Mark Kotsay for a snappy, 1-2-3- inning.
Cubs 2, Braves 0
Lee flies out to right and I probably should've eaten lunch before this one started. Ramirez fouls off a few pitches as Bob Brenly regales us with tales from his trip to Boise. Ramirez pokes a single up the middle. Edmonds goes the other way and puts a two-run homer just over the Ditch the Dish ad on left-field wall. Cubs Nation stands as one. DeRosa walks for the second time and I think Bobby Cox is asleep on the bench behind those sunglasses. The catcher McCann trots out to talk to Morton. Just as the umpire breaks up that confab, Cox dramatically whips off his shades and waddles out to the mound to get his pitcher. I'm sure he's pleased having to pull Morton with one out in the third in the first game of a day-night doubleheader. Righty Buddy Carlyle will pitch some long relief, starting with Soto. DeRosa takes off for second; McCann's throw sails into center. DeRosa scampers to third and the throw gets by Jones, but Buddy's there to back up. Soto flies out to right but it's too shallow to get DeRosa home. Theriot takes a called third strike on the outside corner and doesn't like the call. The Cubs get two more on an Edmonds homer.
Cubs 4, Braves 0
I realize I'm pointing out the obvious here, but signing Edmonds has to rank up there with Jim Hendry's greatest moves not named Aramis Ramirez. I was sold on the guy when he made that catch up on that silly hill in Houston. Kelly Johnson grounds out to his counterpart at second. Buddy Carlyle grounds out to DeRosa, as well. Blanco draws a two-out walk, the first one given up by Marquis. Escobar singles to center and with Blanco on the move, he makes it to third. So Marquis finds himself in a place he'd rather not be but will have to deal with: Two on with Chipper Jones. Marquis gets two strikes on Jones but then walks him. That brings Larry Rothschild out to the mound. Bases loaded for Brian McCann. He takes a vicious rip at a fastball and misses. Two balls from Marquis before McCann fouls off two pitches. It is quite obvious this guy is trying to tie this game with one swing. McCann chases ball foul and pops up the full-count pitch to shallow left. Theriot hustles out there and gloves it with Soriano barely in the picture. Marquis escapes a two-out jam of his making.
Cubs 4, Braves 0
That got a little tense there. And here's Marquis to bat without even time to change his Depends. Marquis grounds out to short for the first out. WGN has an interesting poll question: Which one of these sluggers will the Cubs miss the most or least now that they're out of the division of injured: Junior, Adam Dunn, Jason Bay, Xavier Nady and Carlos Lee? Soriano flies out to right. Fukudome taps on back to the pitcher for the third out.
Kotchman grounds out to Lee. Infante sends one to the corner in left. Soriano hustles over and cuts it off but Infante still makes it to second with a double. Kotsay singles to center to score Infante ... and Kotsay takes second because no one is covering. Edmonds was standing in shallow center with the ball wanting to throw the ball in but neither Theriot nor DeRosa was there to take it and I guess that's ruled a double. We've got a slight delay as umpire Ed West noticest he lights came on and you can't do that in the middle of an inning. Now WGN gives us a great close up of West's jiggling jowls as he chomps on his gum. We're back and Johnson pops out to Theriot. Greg Norton will hit for Buddy Carlyle. Norton hits the first pitch past a diving Lee, but DeRosa smothers it in shallow right and throws to Marquis covering first to just get the runner. Great play there to save another run and get out of the inning.
Cubs 4, Braves 1
Vladimir Nunez is the new Braves pitcher. Joe West, the crew chief, goes out to talk to Nunez. Brenly says to tell him they're turning on the lights again. All of a sudden West turns to the Braves dugout and throws out Bobby Cox, who hadn't even come out on the field. In fact he was sitting with his legs crossed, looking quite relaxed, actually. Apparently Cox had had enough of these delays and said something. Talk about your rabbit-eared umpires. Back to the action, Lee pops out to first. Ramirez draws a walk and, yes, DeRosa made that great play in shallow right, not left as I originally wrote. That would've been some play. Of the 142 times Cox has been ejected in his career, that has to the be the weakest. Edmonds drives a double to the right-field gap that scores Ramirez from first. With such a spacious outfield in Turner Field, Ramirez scored without even drawing a throw. DeRosa rips a double down the left-field line to score Edmonds. Soto lofts a single. DeRosa, who held up because it looked like Infante had a play, raises his hand towards Soto at first as if to say, "Sorry for not getting you an RBI and can you believe Alicia Sacramone fell on the beam?" Theriot grounds to first. Kotchman throws to second to get Soto, but the return throw from Escobar is wide. Theriot is safe and DeRosa scores. Marquis quickly strikes out but the Cubs get three more to take a 7-1 lead.
Cubs 7, Braves 1
Blanco leads off the bottom of the fifth with a single to right. Escobar swings at the first pitch and hits into a 6-4-3 double play. Chipper Jones flies out to center and Marquis sets the Braves down with a six-pitch inning.
Cubs 7, Braves 1
Soriano bloops a single to right. Fukudome works the count full. Soriano takes off for second but has to retreat on Fukudome's flyball to left. With Lee at the plate, a pitch gets away from McCann, allowing Soriano to take second. Lee bounces out to short; Soriano holds at second. Ramirez crushes one to center that hits off the top of the wall. Soriano scores on the double that misses being a homer by about two feet. Edmonds bounces back to Nunez to end the top of the sixth. Put that statue outside of Wrigley on hold.
Cubs 8, Braves 1
There has to be some food around here. Amanda's desk is pristine. Nothing. Rahula's desk often has old sweat socks laying about, so I'll pass there. McCann doubles down the right-field line. Lee robs Kotchman of a hit with a back-handed play on a smash towards first. He flips to Marquis covering the bag for the first out. McCann takes third. Infante drives in McCann with a single to left. Lou Piniella takes a slow stroll out to get Marquis. Enter Neal Cotts. Marquis' line: 5 1/3 innings, two earned runs on six hits, walked two, struck out one and plunked a guy. He threw 93 pitches, of which 56 were strikes. The other 37 were balls. Kotsay flies out to Soriano in shallow left. Cotts then strikes out Johnson to end the sixth.
Cubs 8, Braves 2
Yeah, so I confused Kotchman and Kotsay. The Cubicle regrets the error. Many moves to report: Francisley Bueno is the new pitcher, Martin Prado the new second baseman, Clint Sammons the new catcher. DeRosa flies out to left and Soto to center. Theriot rips a single to center on a 3-2 pitch that nearly takes off Bueno's head. Ronny Cedeno hits for Cotts. Cedeno pops up to shallow center. Escobar goes out from short, Kotsay comes in from center. Escobar makes the catch right before Kotsay runs him over. Escobar gets up limping but it appears he's OK. As outfield collisions go, that wasn't all that special.
Jeff Samardzija comes on to pitch for the Cubs and gets Prado to bounce out to short. Samardzija strikes out Blanco looking at a 96-mph fastball on the outside corner. Escobar hits it hard to right where Fukudome makes a nice running catch going back to the wall. Samardzija treated the Braves in the seventh like the service academies treat Notre Dame football lately.
Cubs 8, Braves 2
Soriano rips one deep to left. Could be gone ... no. It bounces off the wall. The camera pans to Soriano and he's just rounding first. Wow. Brenly calls that "unacceptable." Replays show he was posing and watching. Piniella looks downright bewildered. Fukudome draws a walk. Lee grounds slowly to second. The only play is at first and both runners advance. Ramirez pops up the first pitch to center. Reed Johnson bats for Edmonds, who had a double, a homer, knocked in three runs and welcomed more members to his personal fan club. The membership cards are in the mail. Johnson goes down on strikes and the Cubs leave two aboard.
Johnson stays in the game to play center. Chipper Jones reaches out and pokes a leadoff single the other way. Sammons flies out to Johnson in shallow center. Samardzija fans Kotchman with some high heat. Infante singles to left. Kotsay bounces out to DeRosa and we move to the ninth wit the Cubs up six runs.
Cubs 8, Braves 2
DeRosa singles to left and he's reached base four times today. Soto follows with a two-run jack to straight-away center to make it 10-2. Save some runs for the nightcap, boys. Theriot singles and the pitcher Bueno has officially reached sacrificial lamb status in this one. Henry Blanco bats for Samardzija. Blanco flies out to the other Blanco in right. Bueno throws a fastball at Soriano's head and he's tossed immediately. Apparently Bueno didn't like Soriano admiring that single in the eighth. You know, the Braves threw at Soriano last season after he homered three times against them. He went in the tank after that and Mike Fontenot got the worst of it: a payback forearm to the face from Edgar Renteria, whom Ted Lilly drilled. And then they did it again this season and broke his hand. Blaine Boyer is the new Braves pitcher. It's amazing that pitch from Bueno missed Soriano. It went between his head and the bat. Soriano lines to the second baseman Prado, who then flips to first to double up Theriot on a close play.
Cubs 10, Braves 2
Bob Howry will try to nail this one down. Ruben Gotay hits for the pitcher. Gotay flies out to Soriano. Howry catches his spikes striding towards the plate but still drops in a called strike on a breaking ball to Prado. By the time that pitch reached the plate, Howry was on the ground. He's OK. Prado then bloops a one-out single to center. Blanco flies out to center for the second out. Escobar flies out to right and this one's over.
Final: Cubs 10, Braves 2
That's it everyone. A big day for the Cubs' offense -- Jim Edmonds, Mark DeRosa, Geovany Soto and the rest of them. Jason Marquis finally beats the Braves. Soriano nearly gets his head taken off. Thanks for reading and posting. Thank you, Alicia Sacramone. Citius, Altius, Fortius. Enjoy the nightcap.