Them's The Breaks

Sometimes things just go your way and it doesn't make any sense and when that happens... well, you just smile and take it, and be happy.

The Cubs had absolutely no business winning today's game. But here it is, clickable: the Cubs beat the Phillies 6-5 in 10 innings, their third extra-inning win of the season.

Read that carefully, too. Third extra-inning win of the season -- in twelve games. All of last year, the Cubs won only two extra inning games (of ten played). Had they split those games, they'd have been 88-74 instead of 85-77, and would have been only one game worse than the other playoff teams, and we wouldn't be hearing about how "weak" the NL Central was in 2007.

That's an aside to today's game, but has a point, too: in 2007, the Cubs, good as they were, would have probably found a way to lose it. Instead, despite a tremendous amount of really bad play today, they won anyway.

Just how much bad play? Let us count the ways:

  • Jason Marquis struggled through five innings, throwing 86 pitches and was lucky to only give up two runs.
  • Michael Wuertz was awful. Just awful.
  • Alfonso Soriano went 1-for-6. He's hitting .175. Bad as he was last April, after 12 games he was hitting .234.

Instead, the Cubs took advantage of every single break that happened in today's game:

  • Mark DeRosa hit a home run. Well, at least that's what the umpires said. The ball was foul, and it wasn't even close. Every single replay (and hundreds of Phillies fans in the seats pointing "FOUL!") showed it was foul. We'll take it.
  • Geovany Soto didn't want to swing at a pitch, pinch-hitting in the 8th. But the ball hit his bat and flared into right field and drove in the tying run.
  • Carlos Zambrano had to pinch-hit in the 10th inning because Lou had, through various pinch-running and pinch-hitting appearances, run out of position players on his bench (Attention! This is what 7-man bullpens do to you!). Z hit an absolutely tailor-made DP ball. But Chase Utley, one of the best-fielding 2B in baseball, threw away the relay and Ronny Cedeno -- who, amazingly enough, didn't do anything wrong today -- scored what wound up as the winning run.
  • Utley tried to redeem himself in the bottom of the 10th; his fly ball hit about six inches short of a game-tying HR, bouncing off the wall and Kosuke Fukudome's glove for a double. After an intentional walk to Ryan Howard, (He Is) So Taguchi grounded out to end the game.

What can you say? Some days the breaks just go your way, and here's how I feel about it: we have 99 years of breaks coming to us. We'll take them.

Some good things came out of this mess of a game, the fourth already this year to go over 3 hours (and opening day's time of game was 2:59, and the duration was longer with the rain delay that day):

  • Kerry Wood showed that he could throw two innings without any trouble; he threw only eight pitches in the 8th, then 15 more in the 9th, allowing a hit and a walk. Now, he (along with the rest of the ballclub) are off until Tuesday night.
  • Bob Howry, who's been pretty terrible this year, had a nice confidence-builder for his first save of the year (despite that long drive by Utley putting a scare into every one of us).
  • Derrek Lee had a fine, fine day, with three hits including a two-run double, and a slick defensive play in the last of the 9th that likely saved the game.

There are problems that still need to be solved, and some of them were extremely evident today. For one day, they don't matter, because even with all the problems, all the not-so-great-play... the Cubs won anyway. They can use the day off to regroup and recover and think about ways to fix what's wrong.

In the meantime, enjoy.

Finally, on Tuesday, baseball will again celebrate the legacy of Jackie Robinson by having players wear his #42 jersey, which is retired for all teams. Derrek Lee, Daryle Ward, and coaches Gerald Perry and Lester Strode will wear #42 when the Cubs face the Reds... and Dusty Baker... and Corey Patterson... for the first time this year.

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