Is That A Banana In The Clubhouse, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

When, in the third inning last night, Carlos Zambrano stalked around the mound briefly, causing trainer Mark O'Neal and Lou Piniella to run out and check him out, we figured it might have been another cramping episode and that they'd have to send him back to the clubhouse for a banana break.

Turned out to be something much more prosaic, as revealed in the postgame news conference: in his last start in Cincinnati, Z had scraped his arm diving back into first base after his fifth-inning single, and the scab had come off. That, plus the rather biting cold last night, caused Z to come back for the next inning wearing long sleeves.

That solved the problem, though Mike thinks he might just need more bananas (along with some thoughts about how D-Lee and Dome might approach a Cub fan's loyalty test):

A loyalty oath?
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It was that kind of night, as the Cubs had yet another laugher of a win, 12-3 over the hapless Padres, and yet another amazing thing about this team, first revealed by Len Kasper on the telecast (and repeated by Cory Provus on the postgame radio show, if you're wondering where I heard this): the Cubs have now had thirteen different innings in which they've scored five or more runs.

We're simply not used to this kind of thing. They're leading the major leagues in runs scored with 223 -- by a considerable margin over the Red Sox, second with 209. The nine walks drawn last night give them 183 for the season. That's almost half of what they drew in 2006, Dusty Baker's last season, 395 -- in fewer than one-quarter the number of games. I'll make sure to make note here when they pass the '06 team -- it may be before the end of June. And if you're wondering: the club record for walks in a season is 650, set in 1975 (yeah, I was surprised to find that out too, as that team finished badly after a hot start; no one on that team walked 100 or more times, though six walked 60 or more). Right now the average of 4.8 walks per game would shatter that record; they are on pace for 780. The 5.86 runs per game average would mean 950 runs over a full season.

Ain't this fun?

The Cubs came from behind again last night; Z just couldn't keep the Padres bats totally silent, and they went into the bottom of the fifth with a 2-1 lead. Z led off with a double off the wall that looked, at first, as if it might be his 2nd HR of the year. No matter, Alfonso Soriano followed with his fourth HR of the season and after that... well, everyone hit. Or walked. The only one of the starting nine who didn't get a hit last night was Kosuke Fukudome. But he had three walks, scored twice, and got an RBI when he walked with the bases loaded. Ryan Theriot had three hits; Derrek Lee two (and a stolen base, which, like Aramis Ramirez' on Sunday, looked like it came off a missed sign). Ramirez had an RBI single, a walk, and scored twice. And after Kevin Kouzmanoff couldn't beat Aramis Ramirez to 3B, making Ramirez safe and giving Mark DeRosa a hit, Kouzmanoff threw the ball in the general direction of the corner of Addison & Sheffield, allowing three runs to score. Padres manager Bud Black then yanked Kouzmanoff from the game. Yes, I know it wasn't for that reason -- Kouzmanoff had made the last out of the previous inning and was the obvious choice for a double-switch for Black's pitching change -- but it wound up being unintentional humor.

Ain't this fun?

Lou must be having fun, because he sounded exhausted on the radio during the postgame press conference, almost as if he had spent the evening running around the bases himself.

While the Cubs are clicking on all cylinders -- five out of their last six, 15-6 overall at home -- I wanted to comment here about the latest Jim Edmonds rumor. Bruce Miles reports:

The Cubs are having serious internal discussions on whether to sign center fielder Jim Edmonds, cut loose by the San Diego Padres.

General manager Jim Hendry could not comment Monday on Edmonds, who must first clear waivers, much as Reed Johnson had to during spring training before the Cubs signed him after Toronto let him go.

Some quarters in the Cubs' front office are taking a "why not?" approach to taking a flyer on Edmonds, all the while wanting to know about his health, whether he can still play and how good a fit he will be in the clubhouse.

I'll tell you "why not": he's done. I guess I can't fault management for doing their due diligence, but obviously, he'd be signed to replace Felix Pie on the roster. And why is this? Because Lou clearly doesn't trust Pie, doesn't want to give him a shot, and if you look at Pie's record so far in the major leagues, the answer to the question "Can Pie hit major league pitching?" is, "We don't know yet!"

Pie has played 117 major league games over a season and a quarter. The longest stretch of games he has started and finished during that time is nine (last June). This season, his longest such stretch is four games -- the first four of the season.

Now I ask you -- how can ANY hitter get any consistent rhythm going if he doesn't play? How can Pie learn how to face major league pitching and see enough pitches and different pitchers to hit if they won't give him a chance?

He needs to be out there every day at least against RHP. If the Cubs insist on signing a washed-up, injured, 38-year-old centerfielder who was released by a team in desperate need of hitting, at least send Jim Edmonds to Iowa for a week or two first, and let Pie play.

The bottom line is: the Cubs are 23-15, winners of four in a row and five of six, and scoring metric buttloads of runs. Why mess with success? Please, Jim. Don't do it.

Finally, to discuss this screaming Sun-Times headline from today:

Tabloid journalism!

... go to blackhawk24's FanPost.

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