I know that quite a few BCB readers were at last night's 5-3 Cub loss to the Phillies in Philadelphia, and hopefully later today someone will make a FanPost with a few more details than I can write about from my television-viewing perspective.
The Cubs' five-game winning streak was snapped, but that's no reason to panic (I didn't have a chance to see the game threads last night, but I imagine there was quite a bit of teeth-gnashing going on). We are ten games into a 162-game season; Baseball Prospectus has the Cubs ranked third in their current "power ranking" ($), although I think that might be a little bit too high (and strange, because they have the Reds, Cubs and Brewers ranked 2nd, 3rd and 4th behind the Diamondbacks).
Last night's game, in my view, turned on the strange play in the fifth inning. With two out, a runner on first and the game tied 2-2, Greg Dobbs hit a ball that Kosuke Fukudome (playing CF for the first time) ran down and caught. But then:
"I did catch the ball," Fukudome said through an interpreter. "As I ran past Soriano, the tip of my glove hit his leg or torso. Once it popped out, there was nothing I could do."
Not only can Dome play baseball (although he failed to reach base for the first time), he can succinctly summarize what happened. Lou Piniella came out to argue that Dome held on to the ball long enough for it to be an out, and having seen the replay several times, I agree. However, the umpires didn't, and the Phillies took a 3-2 lead. Who knows what might have happened if that was ruled an out and the game stayed tied?
It didn't, and even though Soriano homered in the 6th to tie the game at 3, Z didn't have it last night, and that was evident in the first inning, after he was staked to a 2-0 lead on homers by Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. He struggled into the 4th with that lead, then coughed it up, and wound up giving up all five Phillie runs and threw 107 pitches in six innings, recalling the bad Z from the first half of last year (only one walk, though).
Sean Marshall and Michael Wuertz kept it close, but the Cubs couldn't score off the Phillies bullpen. And frankly, this offense is in trouble if all it's going to score is on solo home runs. However, I liked the lineup selection last night (Fukudome 2nd), and Dome says it's fine with him. (That notes column also says Tim Lahey cleared waivers and has been returned to the Twins, so if the Cubs want him back, they'll have to make another trade.)
Today, however, is another day, one of the best things about baseball -- if you lose, you don't have to wait too long to make up for it. Rich Hill, however, will have to wait a while to make up for his bad start the other day -- the Cubs will use Monday's off day to skip his turn and he'll be in the bullpen till at least late next week.
Finally, Josh77 posted this link in his Minor League Wrap, but I thought it was good enough to mention on the front page -- former Cub (and Phillie) Doug Glanville, a thoughtful sort who has an Ivy League degree (from the University of Pennsylvania) wrote this excellent NY Times op-ed piece on the Roger Clemens situation, and his ideas on why he thinks Clemens acted the way he did, saying that ballplayers put a "protective shell" around them:
To those outside Clemens’s protective shell, he seems to be fighting ghosts. We must understand that he stopped listening to the outside world a long time ago, partly because ignoring those voices was integral to his survival. So if he seems out of touch, it’s probably because he is out of touch. To "clear his name," he has cast shadows over his immediate family and his closest confidantes with implications of their complicity in tainting his golden-egg status. All for a principle of honor that I am sure he firmly believes in because, like most players, he has been reinforcing it in his own head throughout his career out of self-preservation.
I think Glanville has hit the nail on the proverbial head here. Clearly, this isn't the way most ordinary human beings, you & me, relate to each other. But Roger Clemens has been out of touch with "ordinary" for so long, he doesn't know how to act when faced with reality.