At 12:30 this afternoon, I sat down to watch today's game, enjoying watching the sunshine in Pittsburgh and figuring that by 3:00 or so, I'd be able to go run the errands and do the rest of the things I needed to do today.
Four hours and forty-seven minutes later, I finally went out to quickly drop some mail off. That was OK, because... I really didn't have anything to do today.
Oh, wait. Yes, I did.
The Cubs beat the Pirates 10-8 in 12 innings in a game that perhaps is best not described at all, because both teams crammed enough bad baseball into this afternoon to last at least a month.
There were errors. Of omission and commission. There were walks. There were stolen bases (four by the Cubs). There were walks. Did I mention there were walks? Eighteen of the freakin' things, for heaven's sake.
And finally, it was walks that undid Pirates rookie pitcher Evan Meek, and as bad as Carmen Pignatiello threw in his brief appearance in the sixth inning (when the Pirates tied the game at seven, and Piggy threw eight pitches, none of them near the strike zone), Meek's appearance cost the Pirates the game. In order: walk, stolen base, walk, wild pitch, groundout, intentional walk, sacrifice fly, wild pitch, intentional walk, walk with the bases loaded, two runs on NO hits.
Man, that's bad. Fortunately, that all was FOR the Cubs.
However, before all that, we got a BCB exclusive. After all the photos you've seen of the first homestand, we got this exclusive photo of Ronny Cedeno's bases-clearing double in the third inning that gave the Cubs a 7-0 lead:
Today was WGN-TV's first road HD telecast, and it was pretty much a TV disaster. First, the audio wasn't synced with the picture; for most of a sporting event that doesn't matter because the faces speaking aren't on TV. But Len and Bob looked odd in the pregame show, lip-flapping their way through the game intro. Then they lost audio altogether and had them on a phone line... and then they lost the picture. Inertia took over; I could have switched to Pat & Ron on WGN radio, but left the phone-line quality audio (it sounded like the basketball games I used to call for my college radio station 30 years ago) up and that image on the screen.
Almost to the minute when the video feed returned, the Pirates started knocking the ball around PNC Park. Ted Lilly got knocked out and Kevin Hart wasn't much better. It took the Pirates till the 7th inning, off Michael Wuertz, to tie the game -- mostly as a result of a Mark DeRosa error.
And on it went into the late-afternoon shadows in Pittsburgh. The Cubs left RISP in the 10th and 11th innings before basically letting Evan Meek give them the game in the 12th.
Kudos -- BIG ones -- to Jon Lieber, who came in the game in the 9th inning and slammed the door shut. He threw three innings and gave up two harmless doubles and two walks (both intentional). He threw an efficient 35 pitches (23 strikes) and probably could have thrown five more innings if the Cubs had needed him to (and thank heavens they didn't, because I still wouldn't have run my errands!). Carlos Marmol finished up, and looked the best I've seen him all year, including the spring. That's good news, too.
There will be calls for Lieber to go into the rotation, and I can see this. But in some ways, he's more valuable to the team as a long-man like this; even though he threw three innings today, I'll bet he could do it again on Wednesday night, he throws so effortlessly. In 1998, the Cubs had Terry Mulholland fill a role like this -- check out his gamelogs from that year; he started six games but relieved in 64 others, often throwing two innings. That's a very valuable guy to have in your bullpen. Obviously, if one of the current rotation really starts throwing bad on a consistent basis, you'd have to think about putting Lieber in the rotation. But I'd give it at least four times through the rotation before even thinking about doing this.
I finally went out to run my errands when the Cubs scored the two runs in the 12th, and listened to the rest of the game on the radio. Pat Hughes said, "The best thing to do after a game like this, after you win, is to completely forget about it."
Sound advice, I think. It was ugly. The Cubs won. They've got tomorrow off, and most of Wednesday till the night game. Be happy.