Bat Mitzvah Night, and Open Thread: Cubs vs. Diamondbacks, Sunday 8/26, 3:40 CT

Longtime readers of this blog will remember my daughter Rachel's friend Jenna, of whom I have written twice in the last year as she prepared for her Bat Mitzvah, which took place yesterday. She is, as I noted before, as big a Cubs fan as any of us here, and managed, in her speech, to mention Sandy Koufax, Ken Holtzman, Shawn Green (who she actually went up to when the Mets were in town and invited to the Bat Mitzvah. He laughed and politely declined, as the Mets had some important business in New York this weekend), and Jason Marquis. The rabbi, in the spirit of things, said he didn't know whether to say "Shabbat Shalom" ("Sabbath greetings", loosely, in Hebrew) or "Play ball!" Later, after the service was completed, he continued this humorous vein by saying, "I didn't know whether to say 'Mazel tov' (Hebrew, loosely, for 'Congratulations') or 'Holy Cow'!"

It was an enjoyable event; too bad her favorite team (and ours) didn't cooperate in making it a perfect day. Instead, the Cubs lost to the Diamondbacks 3-1, and what more can you say? Sometimes you just get beat. It turned on one bad pitch -- an inside fastball that Conor Jackson turned on and crushed for a two-run HR -- and the Cubs could do little with Doug Davis. Lou called him "a crafty lefthander", but Davis said:

"It's not the first time I've heard it," Davis said. "I'm not thrilled with it. I'd rather be known as a control pitcher."
Yeah, well, whatever, Doug. On this road trip, the Cubs have now allowed one, two, four, two and three runs -- keep doing that, and many wins will follow, especially when the largest run total of those five was allowed by the guy who is supposed to be the ace of the staff.

Other than the HR, I thought Ted Lilly threw a really nice game. The Cubs have allowed the second-fewest runs in the NL (only the Padres have allowed fewer; and among AL teams, only the Red Sox have allowed fewer than the Cubs' total of 538), have a run differential of +51 and a Pythagorean projected record of 69-59. Sooner or later, the actual record ought to catch up to that. Win today and this road trip will be a success.

I was pleased to see Jason Kendall hitting second and Jacque Jones hitting eighth last night. This lineup will score some runs if Lou will just leave it alone for a few days.

Thankfully, the Brewers also lost last night again, 6-2 to the Giants, so the Cubs maintain their 1.5 game lead. The Cardinals moved to within 3 games by defeating the Braves 5-4. From the AP recap, another quote from Doug Davis:

"We've got our eye on the scoreboard watching San Diego," Davis said, "so every game is important for us right now."
If ballplayers tell you they don't watch the scoreboard, they're lying, so it's refreshing to see someone actually say so. The Cubs, I am certain, are watching the Brewer and Cardinal scores, just as we are. Not wanting to get too far ahead of myself, I will point out that IF the Cubs make the playoffs, the Diamondbacks, currently leading the West, are a potential first-round opponent. Beating them today would split the season series and perhaps give the club more confidence that it can defeat a possible playoff team (Cubs vs. other potential playoff teams: 4-5 vs Braves, 3-5 vs. Padres, 2-5 vs. Mets, 3-4 vs. Phillies. Not so good).
Today's Starting Pitchers
Jason Marquis
J. Marquis
Cubs
vs. Yusmeiro Petit
Y. Petit
D'backs
10-7 W-L 2-4
4.12 ERA 5.14
85 SO 31
64 BB 15
18 HR 10
vs. Ari -- vs. Cubs
Jason Marquis was the winner in the only game the Cubs won in the series last month vs. Arizona at Wrigley Field, throwing seven innings of two-run ball on July 20. Meanwhile, Yusmeiro Petit, who was at the time making an emergency start replacing the injured Randy Johnson, threw six innings of three-hit shutout ball with five strikeouts in a 3-0 D'backs win two days later. Even worse, the only Cub who actually seemed to know how to hit him, Alfonso Soriano (who has four hits in six lifetime AB vs. Petit), won't play today. It's seemingly a mismatch, but you know how these things sometimes go. Only fifteen pitchers in the NL have won 12 or more games so far this season. Marquis can join them today if he steps up his game and throws the way he did against the Giants (well, except for that first inning), or the way he has vs. Arizona in his career (2-3, 2.77 in eight appearances, seven starts).

This afternoon's contest is cable-only on CSN Chicago; if you are in Arizona (and I know quite a few of you are) it should be available statewide via 3TV Phoenix and its repeater network. Here is today's MLB Mediacenter link.

MLB.com Gameday (2007 version)

MLB.com Gameday (2006 version)

MLB.com Gameday for today's Braves/Cardinals game (1:15 pm CT start time)

MLB.com Gameday for today's Brewers/Giants game (3:05 pm CT start time)

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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