After yesterday's excitement, when Carlos Zambrano had a little talk with himself, hit a homer, spit a tooth out and kept on pitching the Cubs to a 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, today in a word: Blech.
I give you this doozy: Jason Marquis on eight-day's rest against lefty John Lannan (6-12, 3.81), who's 0-3 in his last three starts, but, if you recall, beat the Cubs in D.C. on April 27.
But you know what, kids? It's Friday and that trumps any lousy pitching matchup. Summer is still in effect despite the constant din of these nimrods and meatheads pining for football. It'll be here soon enough for the fantasy football dorks. Back off. The beaches are still open and we've got two pennant races in town and you're wondering about the Bears offense? Lemme tell you something: it sucks. Next. And, yeah, I have fantasies like the next guy but they don't include LaDainian Tomlinson.
I'm here for you. Shut it down. Pretend you're working. Lock the office door. Do anything, but please do not be productive. Time for baseball.
Today's lineups featuring the National's formidable crew of .260 hitters and a Cubs lineup without Jim Edmonds or Kosuke Fukudome, who get the day off against the left-handed Lannan.
Now that I've switched from NBC and that awesome rhythmic gymnastics all-around final, we'll focus on a sport without twirling ribbons.
The Cubs are the only afternoon game today. The weather is muggy. It was raining downtown but now it's not. However, the tarp still is on the field at Wrigley, where it appears to be drizzling. This game will not start on time. We'll keep you posted.
Tom Skilling update: Skililng's on now and he says we should soon be ""playing ball permanently." I'm not sure what that means but the rain is now moving to southern DuPage County.
Paul Sullivan update: Tribune Cubs beat reporter Paul Sullivan says this game won't get underway until at least 2 p.m. C'mon now. The street is dry here. Right. I guess Skilling said the rain was coming from southern DuPage? I don't know. I guess that's where all weather systems start. And honestly, I'm not sure where DuPage County is.
Tarp update: It's coming off. We're looking at a 2:20 p.m. first pitch, according to Len. Here are the lineups that I failed to link to above. Meanwhile, WGN is showing the 8.8.88 first night game. Rick Sutcliffe on the mound throws the first pitch to the immortal Damon Berryhill amid a sea of pre-digital camera flashbulbs. Harry Caray is confused with all the lights and Phil Bradley hits a leadoff homer onto Waveland.
Harry: "Hey, maybe the wind is blowing out."
Steve Stone: "Yes, Harry, the wind is blowing out at 9 mph."
Bill Murray (yelling out of the booth to portly umpire Eric Gregg): "Eric, you look fantastic!"
Phillies 1, Cubs 0
Even though I know the outcome, I fave a feeling this game will be better than today's game.
Donkey named Jack, I grew up in Elmhurst. Any more questions? Actually, I did not, but I've been there many times and of course I know where DuPage County is. OK, this game can't start soon enough. OOh, Ryne Sandberg goes deep to tie the game and there's a guy in the left-field bleachers wearing a sweet Def Leppard-esque Union Jack muscle shirt.
Back to the present, and it's even stranger than the past. There are people milling about the infield. Chris Chelios, wearing a Ryan Dempster Cubs jersey, is parading the Stanley Cup around the pitchers mound. He throws out the first pitch and sails it over Eddie Vedder's head. Yes, this is all really happening.
ClubMedSux, yes, that guy in the bleachers had two arms. Wow. OK, I will say nothing more until this game starts in seven minutes. Perhaps I'll fix myself some tea.
Baseball has arrived. Emilio Bonifacio leads off for the Nats and takes a first-pitch ball. He fouls one back and then squibs one to Ronny Cedeno at second for the first out. Cristian Guzman dribbles one in nearly the same spot and Cedeno charges and makes the play for the second out. Those two guys, Bonifacio and Guzman, are fast. Ryan Zimmerman lines one right at Ryan Theriot and that ends the top of the first inning.
Alfonso Soriano works the count full and takes a leadoff walk -- for the second straight day. Ryan Theriot strikes out but Soriano swipes second on the play. Derrek Lee bloops one to shallow right-center. Not sure where the National are playing Lee, but it appears to be on Sheffield with the ballhawks. The ball drops in but Soriano held up and stops at third. Runners on the corners with one out for Aramis Ramirez, who is wearing long pants today, Bob Brenly keenly points out. Ramirez tries to check his swing and he's gone. Lee runs on the play, the catcher throws down but the throw is cut and here comes Soriano from third. He slides in ahead of the tag and the Cubs score on a double steal. Reed Johnson grounds out but the Cubs get a run on a walk, a hit and three steals. Sure.
Cubs 1, Nats 0
Lastings Milledge looks at strike three on the inside corner. Ronnie Belliard tries to check his swing on a high fastball and home-plate umpire Marty Foster calls him out himself. Belliard has a word with him and now there's some chirping from the National's dugout. No one likes it when the home-plate umpire doesn't ask for help on that play, Brenly says. Ryan Langerhans, who has part of the pancreas named for him, draws a walk. So much for the perfect game. Willie Harris grounds out to Cedeno.
The wind is now blowing straight out to center at quite a clip as Geovany Soto grabs a bat and steps to the plate. Soto draws a leadoff walk. DeRosa walks, too, and that brings some guy named Randy St. Claire out of the Nationals' dugout. St. Claire knows his stuff. Lannan strikes out Cedeno. Marquis pops out trying to bunt. Soriano grounds into a fielder's choice and the Cubs leave the two runners stranded.
Cubs 1, Nats 0
Wil Nieves grounds out to third. The pitcher Lannan does the same thing. Bonifacio tries to bunt for a hit. But Soto is all over it and throws him out by a half step. Nice play there by the catcher.
Theriot grounds out to short on the first pitch. Lee launches one deep to left for a solo
double play homer, his first since July 27th. Ramirez slices one the other way and Langerhans chases it down. Johnson chops one to second for the final out. But Lee's homer to the first row in left gives the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
Cubs 2, Nats 0
Guzman chops one to the drawn-in Ramirez at third and that's a quick first out. Zimmerman hits it on a line but right at Johnson in center. Len and Bob are getting a little carried away discussing replay in baseball. "Who knows one day, we may see balls and strikes called by a computer." Yes, when robots rule the world, which could be by next week. Milledge bloops the Nats' first hit of the day to center field. And seriously enough of the replay discussion. Len's getting all doom and gloom about slowing down the game. Replay would be used only on questionable home run calls. It's not like the NFL, where it takes forever. With Milledge on the move, Belliard bloops a single to right. Milledge to third. Langerhans sends one deep to left. Soriano drifts back to the track, gets turned around and then makes the catch while performing a single salchow. The Russian judge marks him down for artistic merit.
Soto singles to left. DeRosa knocks him home with a bomb to left that lands on Waveland. That was crushed. Cedeno, whose got his shirt partially untucked and some white shoes on, grounds out to short. Who dressed him? Marquis drops in a bloop single to center in front of a diving Milledge. Soriano grounds into an inning-ending double play.
Cubs 4, Nats 0
Harris strikes out swinging. After an interminable at-bat, Nieves pops out to Cedeno. Lannan's out on a swinging bunt in front of the plate.
Theriot lines out to a drawn-in Zimmerman, who was lucky he caught that because it was ticketed for his head. Lee grounds out to third on the first pitch. Ramirez swings at the first pitch and lines out to left, where Harris makes a stumbling catch. A four-pitch fifth for Lannan.
Cubs 4, Nats 0
Bonifacio grounds one up the middle; Theriot dives and knocks it down but no chance getting Bonifacio, who reaches on an infield single. Marquis walks Guzman and that brings Soto out to the mound. Neal Cotts and Bob Howry stir to life in the Cubs pen. Zimmerman walks and the wheels of the Marquis Express have fallen off. Larry Rothschild is out there stalling for time and possibly checking if the pitcher still has all of his teeth. Milledge flies out on the first pitch but Bonifacio trots home with the Nats' first run. Belliard doubles down the right-field line to knock home another run. Had DeRosa not hustled over and cut that ball off, another run would've scored. That's it for Marquis. Enter Cotts. Cotts gets off to a good start, going 3-0 on pinch hitter Austin Kearns. Cotts walks him to load 'em up again. Cotts starts out Harris with another ball and then grooves one over that Harris hits out for a grand slam. Yes, seriously, that Willie Harris. Nieves grounds out to Theriot. Cotts strikes out Lannan and gets booed on his way to the dugout. Brutal performance.
Nats 6, Cubs 4
Johnson grounds out to second. Cotts reached the dugout and then took a few back-handed shots to a cooler -- with his right hand, Crash Davis. Soto flies out to center. DeRosa hits it off the wall in left but is thrown out by a mile at second by the great and immortal Willie Harris.
Nats 6, Cubs 4
Howry's the pitcher. Bonifacio beats out a grounder to third that Ramirez knocked down and then threw late. With Guzman up, Bonifacio steals second. Guzman pokes a single through the hole on the right side and Bonifacio scores. Zimmerman flies out to right. Milledge bounces into a DP and here's Chelios to drop the gloves and sing TMOTTBG.
Nats 7, Cubs 4
Cedeno singles to center. Fukudome will pinch hit for Howry. Fukudome bounces to third where Zimmerman makes a nice charging play on the short hop. Fukudome is out but Cedeno takes second. Chelios says the Cup weighs 37 pounds, but a few more "with liquid in it." That's it for Lannan. Steve Shell is the new pitcher. Soriano drives it deep to center. Milledge catches up to it at the wall. Cedeno tags and takes third. Theriot drives in Cedeno with a single to center. Lee strikes out, but the Cubs get one back.
Nats 7, Cubs 5
Chad Gaudin will pitch the eighth for the Cubs. Belliard greets him with a double to the right-field gap. Kearns drives one deep to left and Soriano makes another nice running catch at the edge of the track. With a base open, they'll treat the immortal Willie Harris like he's Albert Pujols. They'll put him on and try their luck with the catcher Nieves. Make that Jesus Flores, who will hit for Nieves and stay in to catch. Flores lines a single to left and Belliard stops at third. Bases loaded for Aaron Boone (Aaron Freakin' Boone?), who will hit for the pitcher. Boone hits a double to the gap on the first pitch to clear the bases. These are the Nationals, right? And remember all those geniuses telling us how Gaudin was the real prize in the Rich Harden trade? How's that working out for you? Bonifacio takes a called third strike. Guzman pops it up down the left-field line and Theriot hustles over and lays out for a tremendous diving catch near the bullpen to put an end to this misadventure.
Nats 10, Cubs 5
Now pitching for the Nats, Saul Rivera. Not many baseball players named Saul. Ramirez pops out to the second baseman. Johnson tries to bunt himself on but it rolls foul. Johnson swings at this one and hits a double past the third baseman. Soto strikes out. DeRosa bounces out to third. Nothing to see here. Move along.
Nats 10, Cubs 5
Lou Piniella leaves Gaudin in there. Zimmerman pops out to second. Gaudin knocks Milledge to the dirt with a high fastball and then strikes him out. Belliard rips a homer to left. Gaudin walks Kearns. Ho-hum, Willie Harris hits a two-run shot to left. Pretty sweet showing by the pen. Flores doubles to the corner. Conceding the game is one thing, but you've got to get this guy out of there. Rothschild trots out, but with no one warming up, it's time to get someone out. He's been touched for 6 runs in 1 2/3 innings. Need to get that last 1/3. Gaudin strikes out Pete Orr. The Cubs coming up down eight runs.
Nats 13, Cubs 5
On a day when the fifth starter goes and he pitches well, the bullpen has to pick him up, especially against a team that ranks last in the league in most offensive categories. Jesus Colome will try to put an end to this one for the Nationals. Cedeno falls behind 0-2. Cedeno reaches across the plate and pops out to Belliard. Daryle Ward will hit and singles to right. Mike Fontenot hits for Soriano and into a fielder's choice and it's down to Theriot. Theriot flies out to Kearns near the right-field line and that does it.
Final: Nats 13, Cubs 5
Thanks for reading everyone. Sorry about the result. Don't let it ruin your weekend.