On a night when many players and some entire teams -- nine of them -- honored the legacy of Jackie Robinson by wearing his retired number 42, Derrek Lee, who you see above (along with the Reds' Ken Griffey, Jr., also wearing 42), smashed a three-run homer in the fifth inning, bringing the Cubs from behind (they trailed 3-2 at the time), had two other hits, and sparked a 9-5 Cub win over the Reds, their eighth win in their last eleven games after starting the season 0-2.
That one felt good, although the wind howling out at 20+ MPH didn't feel so good once the sun went down. None of the three Cub homers -- by D-Lee, Mark DeRosa and Ryan Theriot -- needed any help from the wind, though. It wasn't just home runs, either -- in addition to the three HR, the Cubs pounded out 11 other hits, drew three walks and in general, had a fine offensive day. I hesitate to say so, but D-Lee's starting to look as he did in his great 2005 season -- and is now tied for the league lead in HR (5), three off the lead with 12 RBI, 2nd in SLG (.737) and 3rd in OPS (1.159).
Also "offensive", in a different sort of way, was an injury to Alfonso Soriano after one of his "bunny hops" on catching a routine fly ball. His former manager at Washington, Frank Robinson, predicted this would happen:
Soriano, an infielder until the Washington Nationals converted him to the outfield in 2006, has done the hop since making the switch, and his manager then, Hall of Fame outfielder Frank Robinson, cringed when he watched it -- but was reluctant to try to break him of it.
"I kept saying one of these days he's going to go up there and it ain't going to be there," Robinson said last fall.
Soriano had a MRI last night on the leg and may be headed to the DL. (Which, I suppose, will please those of you who are Soriano bashers. However, please remember the Cubs would likely would not have made the playoffs without his performance last September.) I presume Matt Murton would be recalled from Iowa, though it could also be Eric Patterson (since Patterson can play more positions than Murton can, and hits lefthanded). The Cubs may mix-and-match lineups while Soriano is out, but even what they did last night -- move Mark DeRosa to LF and play Mike Fontenot at 2B -- might work on occasion. They could also play Patterson in LF, or Patterson in CF (if it's really decided that Felix Pie has to go back to Iowa, and he looked pretty bad last night, even as the rest of the team was smacking the ball around the yard) with Murton in LF. I suppose also, that the calls to sign free agent Kenny Lofton may begin again.
There are worse ideas. We'll see. I also hope that if Soriano is out, Lou will entertain the idea of leading off with Kosuke Fukudome, who seems ideally suited for that spot, with his excellent plate discipline. Anyway, once Soriano does return (presuming he does have a DL stint ahead), let's hope someone convinces him to stop hopping.
Ryan Dempster threw a pretty good game, though a defensive lapse by Carlos Marmol cost him a "quality start" -- Marmol inexplicably threw to 2B in an ill-advised attempt to get Corey Patterson (who was booed every time he came up, as was Dusty Baker when he made two pitching changes. That's all I have to say about that). Hey Carlos: when the other team gives you an out, take it! Instead, the bases wound up loaded, and when a run scored on a force play, that left Dempster, who left with nobody out in the seventh, with four earned runs. Marmol, however, recovered to get an inning-ending DP, and then threw a strong eighth, striking out the side and hitting 97 on the ballpark speed meter. Would you have guessed that after 13 games, three pitchers would be tied for the team lead with two wins -- and the three would be Dempster, Jon Lieber and Kevin Hart?
Ken Griffey, Jr. hit his 595th career HR and then (photo above) shared some laughs with bleacher fans in RF who were heckling him. The Reds' Joey Votto finished the five-total-HR barrage last night by homering off Michael Wuertz (hey, what's up with that? Suddenly, Wuertz seems eminently hittable), and when Wuertz followed that with a walk to Paul Bako, Kerry Wood was summoned to finish up, even though it wasn't a save situation. Kerry threw 15 pitches (12 strikes), so ought to be available tonight (even though he was up two separate times to warm up; he'd have come in to start the 9th had Theriot not homered to make a 7-4 lead a 9-4 lead).
We were joined last night by BCB readers Sarah Hope (who recently moved to the Chicago area from Cincinnati to take a job with the Schaumburg Flyers) and some co-workers, and also BartlettBob (who says he rarely posts, if you haven't seen his name much). They gave out knit caps last night -- they were needed. It's supposed to be warmer, but just as windy, tonight, so expect more balls to leave the yard.
Click on photos to open a larger version in a new browser window. Photos by David Sameshima