Good news: the sun came out today right about game time.
Bad news: The Cubs lost to the Astros 4-3, and it easily could have gone the other way.
I'm going to do the entire rest of this recap as a good news/bad news thing, because despite the loss, there was plenty of good to go around today. (Plenty of bad, too, and I won't hold back, either.)
Good news: Rich Hill threw six solid innings and gave up only two runs.
Bad news: Hill couldn't "close the deal" (as my friend Phil would say) in the fourth inning, after striking out the first two hitters, he walked Mark Loretta and then threw his "one bad pitch", a 2-run HR to J. R. Towles that wound up as the difference in the game.
Interlude: If you changed around the fourth and fifth letters in Towles' last name, you'd have the perfect catcher for a certain Former Employee of the Cubs. Right?
Good news: Mark DeRosa homered in the ninth inning, his first of the year.
Bad news: DeRosa bobbled a Lance Berkman grounder leading off the 8th, and Berkman later scored. If he handles this ball, Miguel Tejada, who tripled, maybe doesn't get the same pitch sequence from Jon Lieber.
Good news: Alfonso Soriano, forced by double-switch to 2B because Mike Fontenot wasn't available today, handled two grounders flawlessly. (I wouldn't have wanted to see him try a DP pivot, though.)
Bad news: Soriano waved at Tejada's ball in the 8th as it bounced off the wall and went by him. Had Soriano handled this ball, Tejada would have likely stopped at second and NOT scored on Ty Wigginton's fly ball. Lou Piniella said in his postgame press conference that he couldn't see the ball from his spot in the dugout. From where we were -- right behind Soriano -- it looked like he took his eye off the ball for just long enough for it to scoot by him.
Good news: Kosuke Fukudome had two more hits, keeping his early-season average at .500. Does this guy EVER swing at a bad pitch? I don't think I've seen him do that yet this year.
Bad news: None here. Fukudome's been absolutely rock-solid consistent through four games. The Cubs did their homework and got a terrific player, I think. (Yes, I know. Small sample size. Still, he seems to be playing exactly as he did in Japan.)
Good news: Jon Lieber threw really well, effortless as always, in his first outing. Had his batting order slot not come up, I have no doubt Lou would have sent him out for the 9th inning.
Bad news: The Cubs were playing Dustyball -- hackalicious. In the fifth inning we looked up and Chris Sampson's pitch count was 39.
Good news: Reed Johnson smacked a ball deep to left field in the 6th inning, pinch-hitting for Hill, for a double.
Bad news: Johnson's ball got knocked down by the wind and could have been a HR. Instead, he died at third base.
Good news, then bad news: many of the outs were hard-hit. The wind knocked down several fly balls, including all three balls hit to Astros CF Michael Bourn in the 4th inning.
Interlude: if Bourn ever became a really good player, and Nike created a shoe line to honor him, would it be called "Air-Bourn"?
Enough. Lou discussed the cold weather in the postgame news conference, and said it wasn't an excuse. It's not. Today was actually fairly nice while the sun was out, and the announced crowd of 37,812 was likely about 28,000 in the house, several thousand more than yesterday. Tomorrow and Sunday will be gorgeous, sunny days, with temperatures in the 60's.
Don't worry and don't panic. This team will be just fine.
Sight seen in the bleachers today. Photo by Al