I posted this once, and it disappeared, here we go again.
I left early for the game to see Kerry pitch last night. I've seen all of his rehab starts here in Des Moines, plus many starts on TV, spring training and at Wrigley. I always forget what a 6'5" tall, athletic and (appears) great shape athlete he is. Last night he became only the 5th player to play here for 6 different seasons. Hardly a great record for someone earning 12 million. During warm-up the theme from Welome Back Kotter was played, welcome back Kerry, we hope we don't have to see you again for a 7th season.
The two largest crowds in the history of this park are when Wood has pitched. The parking was full by 6:00; the weather was much better than expected, mid 50's but a cool NW wind. My wife and I met our friends, Jim and wife, got a $5.50 sandwich and a $6.75 beer (yes, prices are high here too). Went to bullpen, watched Kerry, then headed to our great seats between home and 3rd about 20 rows up. Our stadium is very similar to HoHoKam, all good seats.
I haven't read the spin in the papers this morning but did see the press conference with KW after the game on local TV. Also read Tom's diary so won't try to repeat a lot. After the game KW said" not my best stuff.....got out of some jams.....all my pitches I threw for strikes." Officially 85 pitches, but I had 87 on my count. 5 hits, 3 K's. He took the loss giving up one run but if a .154 hitting Adam Greenberg could have found a little more muscle with 2 outs in the bottom of the 4th and bases loaded, he would have won. The ball appeared headed to CF but a nifty play behind 2nd forced the runner.
Let me say this, he needed to pitch here, not Chicago. Yes, he's ready now, and he's much better than Guzman was. But, as my friend Jim said in the 6th, he was "so-so". More on than later.
18, 16, 27, 13, 13 were the pitch counts. Great start in the first but started picking for corners. 90 mph top speed. The 2nd inning, lead off single, followed by a 91 mph "K" and a fisted hit to center scored the only run on KW, although Pie almost got him at home. (Pie pulled everything last night, he needs to go the other way.) Another "K" to end the 2nd. The 3rd frame started with a walk, a bunch of foul offs with 2 strikes and too many total pitches. This was a typical inning we've seen from him before.
The 4th inning started with a double down the right field line. I was worried. Three groundouts later and 74 pitches, we were assured of seeing him in the 5th. In the 5th, a 6-3 ground out, a base hit followed by two fly outs, he was done. To our surprise he did lead off the bottom of the 5th for his second AB. He needed that after fouling off two bunt attempts in the 3rd and finally hitting a single to right.
Why "so-so"? Not sure who Kerry Wood is anymore. Is he a fireballer strikeout machine or a Maddux wannabe. I didn't see a plan of attack, aka Maddux or young Marshall. Geovany Soto caught, he's not stranger to the Chicago staff after catching a lot this spring, so not exactly a know nothing prospect scared to call a game with Wood. High pitch counts (3rd inning), no strike out pitch (ahead in the count many times, did not have the kill pitch), one inning fly ball outs, another ground ball outs. I think he's a little lost. Fear needs to be put back onto the batters. Most of the Colorado Springs players dug in. Major league hitters will really dig in unless there is a fear of the 96 mph heater or a devastating curve, all pitches he's shown us over the years. The slurve shown to the Astro's many years ago of course is gone. It's almost he's being too reserved with pitching mechanics. Kerry, you can't change who you are. A power pitcher, let it fly and if you can't do it without getting hurt, thanks for the memories. In the next 41/2 months your future with the Cubs is on the line. Don't try to be a pitcher you're not.
It was a great night, yes Mr. Wood is ready for the bigs. We need him badly, you'll all see him soon. But don't think you'll see a big change, this was probably my mild disappointment. Our hope for his future may never be realized. We'll see 5 inning outings and signs of brilliance. If he ever discovers who he is and gets a plan, he may sometime be the pitcher we all want. Last night though, just `so-so'. (But still the man we need immediately in our rotation.) Good luck Kerry, and Go Cubs!