Now back home after personally witnessing that disaster tonight in Dodger Stadium that some call the 2007 Chicago Cubs baseball team, please excuse me as I pour myself a shot or two or three Sauza tequillas. Hmmm, a lot better; now where do I begin?
The flat, lifeless play of the first five innings where Derek Lowe mastered the Cubs bats?
The baserunning error by DLee in the middle of the 7th inning rally that would ultimately prove critical?
The seven run rally in the seventh?
But let me start at the beginning of the end, or rather in the middle of the 8th inning when the right field bullpen door opened and out popped a relief pitcher who jogged towards the mound. Oh sh*t, I thought to myself at the time, why is Piniella taking out Wuertz? Wuertz had relieved Marmol in the 7th inning and had taken down all three Dodgers even though Kent had flown out deep in left center field for the third out. Maybe it was that deep flyball that spooked Piniella, I don't know, but damnit, I hope some press guy asked him after the game. Training my binoculars on the new guy, I immediately recognized Howry - I was actually relieved at first, glad Ohman wasn't coming in. But as I stared as his face - tense, very drawn, exuding no confidence, no strength - I became nervous myself. I turned to my wife and told her, well, if the Cubs are going to blow it, this is where it happens. Since I failed to hex the Dodgers with that comment, of course, it came true.
When Lou came out three batters later with the bases loaded to yank Howry out of the game, I was watching the two intently - there was very little said between them and Lou had that serious-puzzled-pissed off look of his. As Howry walked off the field he seemed to me a broken man and it was very unsettling to witness that. I think that guy has some serious mental toughness confidence issues he has to deal with, but in the meantime this set of relief pitchers are losing some games that should be put away, folks.
Is this was Lou was thinking next? Hmmm, let's see bases loaded no outs, Ethier is up next and he bats left - ah, I get it, I need my lefty, hey, let's get Ohman in! Ohman jogs in and faces...Omedo Saenz, a righty, pinch hitting for Ethier - who hits a single, drives the first run in, and eventually scores the winning 4th run of the inning thereby securing our own Mr. Ohman with the loss. Of course, Ethier was 0 for 3 tonight - does he have killer stats against Howry?
But it would be Angel Guzman who was awarded the Blown Save award of the night with a wild pitch, a walk, a single, and a sacrifice fly thereby scoring 3 runs on his watch.
Meanwhile, all the Dodger fans around us were going crazy and telling us how much the Cubs sucked, immediately forgetting that one inning ago it was their crappy relief pitching that had blown their 5-1 lead. Mercifully, it was a quick end in the ninth inning with a true closer, Saito, on the mound.
So I came away from this game tonight embittered like many other Cubs fans have so far this season, seeing firsthand for myself the poor play that plagues this club:
A costly baserunning plunder.
Poor relief pitching.
A blown lead in the late innings.
A one-run loss.
Weird RP management.
On the bright side, though, I saw an exciting 7 run rally in the seventh, where the Cubs could do no wrong. Lilly picked JuanP off, even after throwing to first several times (to the boos and heckles of the locols) before finally getting him. I also witnessed a rare Jacque Jones hit off a lefthanded pitcher (Beimel) and had to blink twice and pinch myself to believe it actually happened. And the Cubs fan density is still healthy in this part of the world. Best of all, it took me only 5 minutes from the freeway to roll into my parking spot in that parking lot there.
One more tequilla, some sleep, and then I will be ready for Zambrano tomorrow (today).