It sure started out well, but Glendon Rusch and Jerome Williams showed why they really should be bottom-of-the-rotation starters today. The Cubs hit three homers but lost to the Reds anyway, 8-6.
And seriously: Bronson Arroyo hitting a HR? The guy was 4-for-55 lifetime at the plate coming into the game and hadn't had a hit in over four years. There's just no excuse for giving a guy like that a pitch to drive.
Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and John Mabry homered for the Cubs today. The best news about those HR are: they accounted for all the runs, which means, unlike last year when it seemed every homer was a solo job, at least people are getting on base before the long ball. Mabry's a good hitter; his HR was to dead-center field. I think we are going to like having him on the bench.
In addition to Rusch and Williams (who was particularly bad, not being able to find the plate), Michael Barrett had a day he won't want to remember long -- he was 0-for-4 at the plate with a strikeout, and the Reds stole three bases on him.
Or, I should say, Ryan Freel stole three bases on Barrett. Freel's a pest. When guys like that are on your team, you love them. When they're opposing you, they're worse than Albert Pujols. Freel walked twice, had a hit, the 3 SB and scored three runs, including an insurance run in the 8th on an infield out. While Barrett's not a great defensive catcher, give Freel some credit. He's a good player. I wish the Cubs had thought about trying to trade for him -- he can play five positions, draw walks, steal bases.
So, the Cubs come home at .500, and thank heavens Greg Maddux and Carlos Zambrano will throw the first two games against the Cardinals (Jeff Suppan will face Maddux; Chris Carpenter vs. Z).
And they'll find brand-new digs waiting for them. After a warmer-than-expected-and-usual winter, the construction crews are putting the final touches on the new bleachers. Yes, there's a sign for that beer that's "sponsoring" the bleachers. It can easily be ignored. David sent these photos, taken Tuesday evening:
Top: presenting the "Bud Light Bleachers" (Ugh!); Waveland Ave., behind left field. Note the strip of soil, at the base of the new wall. This strip extends around the entire bleachers; photo taken at the bleacher entrance. View inside the right field wall, looking south; the "knothole" gate, on Waveland Ave., in the far right field corner.
Bottom: view from Sheffield Ave, looking north; view inside the gate, at the new left field corner stairwell; view inside the bleacher entrance; view inside the gate, at the new right field corner stairwell. This is the passageway inside the Sheffield Ave. brick wall, looking north.
Photos by David Sameshima