I was talking to my grandmother recently about the Cubs.
"What is wrong with that Zambrano?" she asked. She then got on him for not pitching well in his last three starts. "And he's such a slob out there."
Harsh, perhaps, but stats and a beloved 92-year-old Greek woman do not lie. He hasn't won in August, going 0-1 with a pair of no- decisions, allowing 17 hits and 15 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings. Yeah, not so good. On the other hand, he's beat the Reds 13 times in his career, including a one-hitter on July 9.
Well, That Zambrano goes today and we'll bring you every crotch grab, every glare, every pout, harumph and broken bat.
Welcome to this Thursday edition of From the Cubicle, from my cubicle in the ever-shrinking Chicago Tribune newsroom. It's just me and the bugs at this point.
Josh Fogg (2-5, 7.71 ERA) goes for the Reds.
Today's lineups. Gone is my boy Adam Dunn. I'll miss the donkey.
Now that Mike McGrath from McGrath Lexus -- "When you do the math, you choose McGrath ... McGrath Lexus, McGrath Lexus!" -- has thrown out the first pitch and everyone has gotten their freebie Comcast Sports Net key chain, we're ready to go. Let's just sasy Comcast certainly didn't blow its promotions budget on that give-away. Zambrano walks Chris Dickerson on four pitches to start this one. The game's started, Z; this ain't warm-ups. Zambrano throws a strike to Jeff Keppinger and that brings a sarcastic cheer from the Wrigley Field crowd. With Dickerson running, Keppinger shoots one down the first-base line that Derrek Lee smothers right on top of first base for the first out. Dickerson takes second on the play. A pitch in the dirt to Jay Bruce squirts by Henry Blanco and Dickerson takes third. Zambrano wasn't too pleased with that passed ball. Bruce pops out to short right and Dickerson bluffs down the line but stays put at third. Brandon Phillips swings at a 3-0 pitch and grounds to second where Mark DeRosa has to make a nimble play throwing across his body to get the out. Phillips did Zambrano, who was all over the joint in the first, a huge favor there.
Josh Fogg does his best Zambrano impression and walks Alfonso Soriano to lead off the bottom half. Zambrano took out his frustration on a few towels in the dugout, swiping them away in disgust. Bad towels! Bad! Now he's making nice with them and wrapping them around his elbow. Two balls to Ryan Theriot. Make that three. Catcher Paul Bako runs out to talk to his pitcher, who just stares right through him and gleeks a few squirts of saliva through this front teeth. With Soriano on the move, Theriot shoots a single up the middle. Soriano takes third. Derrek Lee bounces into a 6-4-3 double play on the first pitch, but does get the run home. That's Lee 24th GIDP of the year, which ties him for the major league lead, says Len. Aramis Ramirez pops out to second to end the first.
Cubs 1, Reds 0
Joey Votto singles to right. Yes, we've got some rain moving in from the south. It doesn't look too heavy. Edwin Encarnacion tries to check his swing. They say he went around and that's strike three. Former Cubs legend Corey Patterson swings and misses at a ball in the dirt. Votto was running on the play and takes second. Patterson swings at a pitch near his eyes (big surprise) and flies out to center. Bako bounces out to Lee to end the top of the second.
Jim Edmonds takes a called third strike on the inside corner. DeRosa takes Fogg's first pitch deep to left for his 15th homer of the year. I keep hearing Sox pitcher Clayton Richard is the best QB in town, but was he a better collegiate quarterback than DeRosa? Yes, Richard went to Michigan, but never saw the field. DeRosa, on the other hands, started three seasons at Penn. Is an Ivy League starter better than a backup at Michigan? Well, I guess Tom Brady was a backup at Michigan. Anyhoo, Kosuke Fukdome pops out to second. Blanco flies out to center.
Cubs 2, Reds 0
Zambrano strikes out Fogg looking, but not before going to a full count. Zambrano walks Dickerson again. It doesn't really matter because Keppinger then hits into a 6-4-3, inning-ending double play.
Zambrano cranks a 1-2 pitch deep to right for a solo homer. Now he's happy. You get the feeling he likes hitting more than pitching. Soriano flies out to left. Theriot pops out to short. Lee takes a called third strike, which, besides hitting into double plays, is his other move lately.
Cubs 3, Reds 0
Bruce bounces out to message board favorite DeRosa. Phillips works the count full and the draws a one-out walk. Phillips runs on a 3-2 pitch to Votto. Votto strikes out; Blanco throws out Phillips for the ol' Steve Stone favorite, strike-em-out, throw-'em-out double play.
Aramis Ramirez dunks one to center where Corey Patterson just gives up on it. It bounces past Patterson and Bruce and Ramirez ends up on second with a gift double. Edmonds takes a called third and has some words with home-plate ump Mike Everitt. It appeared a rather cordial conversation, as these things go. But that brings up the man, the myth ... Mark DeRosa. A pitch gets by Bako and check out the hustle on Ramirez. He takes off for third and slides in under the tag. Replays how it was quite close but he was called safe. DeRosa is called out on an outside pitch. Both that one and the one to Edmonds appeared off the plate. Fukudome flies out to center and Ramirez is stranded at third waiting for the Coast Guard.
Cubs 3, Reds 0
Encarnacion grounds out to short. Patterson slaps a double down the third-base line. Jim in Omaha you make an excellent point about the strike-'im-out, throw-'im-out double play. I never thought of that, but you're correct. Bako strikes out and Adam Rosales hits for Fogg. Rosales hits a slow roller to short. Theriot charges but throws high to first. Lee tried to make a sweep tag as Rosales runs by. Meanwhile, Patterson is way down the line towards home. Lee first over there and they nearly get Patterson at third on a very close play. But he slides in safely. An error on Theriot on the play. Dickerson flies out to Fukudome, stranding the two runners.
Former White Sox reliever Nick Masset comes on to pitch. Blanco beats out an infield single to the second baseman Phillips, who ranged up the middle and nearly made a tremendous play. He's a good second baseman. Zambrano is not going to bunt Blanco along. He's taking his cuts. And then bounces into a 3-6 double play. So much for that. Soriano strikes out and we move on to the sixth in a pretty snappy game.
Cubs 3, Reds 0
As Keppinger digs into the box a light rain begins to fall. Keppinger bounces out to Lee, who flips to Zambrano. Bruce crushes a pitch to right for a solo homer and the Reds' first run of the game. Some obnoxious fan throws the ball back and somewhere in the Reds radio booth, Marty Brennaman is fuming. Phillips grounds out to third. Votto singles to left field. Encarnacion pops out to Lee.
Cubs 3, Reds 1
Masset's still in there and Theriot greets him with a single to center. Lee does not hit into a double play, nor does he take a called third strike. Instead he flies out to right. Ramirez flies out deep to center. Edmonds bounces into a fielder's choice, 4-6, and that about does it for the sixth.
Cubs 3, Reds 1
Zambrano walks Patterson and Zambrano is quicky approaching 100 pitches for those of you interested in such matters. it appears Larry Rothschild is because he's on the phone. With Bako up, Blanco throws out Patterson trying to steal second. Bako singles to right past DeRosa. Jolbert Cabrera hits for Masset and flies out to Fukudome near the Reds' bullpen. Fukudome fires to first and nearly doubles up Bako. Dickerson dumps a single into left field. Lou Piniella takes his slow stroll out to the mound. Hey, Lou, take your time. By the time he gets out there, the home plate ump is already at the mound to break things up. Zambrano remains with two outs and runners on first with Keppinger up. Good call. Keppinger bounces out to third on the first pitch. Comcast's Dan Plesac sings TMOTTBG with whom I assume is his teenage daughter and she looks like she'd rather be updating her Facebook page (or doing anything) rather than standing there wearing a Cubs jersey singing some corny song with her dad in front of 40,000 people. Can't say I blame her.
Mike Lincoln is the new Reds pitcher. DeRosa flies out to right. Fukudome strikes out and Blanco flies out to right. Zambrano has to be angry because Lou was going to let him hit.
Cubs 3, Reds 1
Carlos Marmol will pitch the eighth. Bruce pops out to Theriot in shallow right. Phillips hits it hard to left but right at Soriano for a quick second out. Votto gets ahold of one big time and it lands on Sheffield to make this a one-run game. That was Adam Dunn-esque. Encarnacion hits it down the left-field line and there's Soriano making a running catch near the padded wall.
Cubs 3, Reds 2
Fontenot hits for Marmol and flies out to left as Kerry Wood warms in the pen. Soriano draws a walk. Theriot bounces into an inning-ending double play. We move to the ninth where it'll be Kerry Wood v. Corey Patterson.
Cubs 3, Reds 2
Patterson, with a chance for some nice revenge against his former team, grounds out to Lee. Bako, another former Cub, goes down on strikes. Javier Valentin, not a former Cub, works the count full before taking a called third to end the game.
Final: Cubs 3, Reds 2
A close one but the Cubs prevail and take the series, their seventh straight. Zambrano gets the win and that gets my grandmother off his back for a while. Thanks for reading, everyone. See you tomorrow for the Nats.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times