As Aramis Ramirez rounded third base to a scrum of his waiting happy teammates after hitting the walkoff home run that won today's thrilling come-from-behind 4-3 Cub win over the White Sox, I got to thinking, "There's another photo for the cover of next year's Wrigley Season Ticket!"
Just nine days short of one year since A-Ram's amazing walkoff that beat the Brewers 6-5, he did it again, hitting Scott Linebrink's second pitch into the left-field bleachers, and this was just about the time that a lot of us were getting a little worried about his power outage (only ten before today). But his second HR of the day -- just making it into the basket in center field -- gives me hope, at least, that A-Ram is beginning one of his patented mid-season hitting binges that could carry this team, and they need that.
They needed this win badly, too, after losing two tough ones and one that wasn't well-played in Tampa, and what better way to do it than defeating the crosstown White Sox, who are in a pennant race of their own.
Those of you who saw the game on television saw a game played in bright sunshine with a gentle breeze blowing out toward left-center field, a pretty Chicago summer afternoon on the longest day of the year (the summer solstice hits in a little over an hour from posting time here, 6:59 pm CDT). What you didn't see were two nasty little rainstorms that blew through between about 11:30 and 1:00, dampening the stands and the field; as soon as they ended, the sun came out and the ground crew put the field in shape quickly.
The Cubs struck first, scoring a run on a Derrek Lee double play ball after Kosuke Fukudome and Ryan Theriot singled. That was good, but it could have been better -- the Cubs seemed to be hitting John Danks pretty hard in the early innings, but he settled down and retired 11 in a row at one point, helped by two more double plays. Credit to all the Sox pitchers today -- the Cubs went walkless for only the fourth time this season.
Meanwhile, the White Sox were taking Ted Lilly to the air; in the first this resulted in outs, but by the second, home run balls flew out of the yard. Jermaine Dye -- who's one of the hottest hitters in the game today -- smacked one onto Waveland, which rolled down Kenmore Avenue and was (ballhawk, fill in the details if you will) grabbed by Mo, veteran ballhawk. Mo flung a ball back on the field, which appeared dingy and dirty, almost certainly a throwback ball. In the next inning, after a single by Orlando Cabrera, the guy Cub fans love to hate, A. J. Pierzynski, reached down to hit a ball near his ankles and took it out to center.
And that's where it stayed until the 7th. During that time a couple of female Sox fans wearing MINOSO 9 jerseys stood next to us; it turned out that one of them was Minnie's wife Sharon, a lovely woman who got a BCB card (Hey, Sharon, if you're reading this, HI!). In the 7th, Ozzie Guillen pulled Danks for a pinch-hitter and I made the requisite middle-of-the-7th visit to the men's room (explain this to me: guys waiting in line for the troughs at the entrance while, on the far wall, another line of troughs was totally empty), coming back just in time to see D-Lee's leadoff HR that made the score 3-2. We had just finished paying off HR Derby payments when Ramirez tied the game with a blast to left.
Kerry Wood, who hadn't thrown since Sunday, came in for the 9th after Bob Howry had done a pretty good job keeping the Sox at bay in the 8th (helped by a double play), and despite allowing a leadoff double to Brian Anderson, he got AJ to end the inning on an appealed call that AJ wasn't happy with at all (gee, what a surprise, right, AJ bitching?).
The byplay between Sox and Cubs fans was pretty low-key most of the day, though a few Sox fans got a bit rowdy toward the later innings and got escorted out. We heard the chants: "Steroids! Steroids!" while the Sox were in the field and at first I thought they were directed at Sox LF Carlos Quentin, but instead we discovered they were heckling a heavily-muscled guy in the bleachers with his shirt off. Everything was totally calm until after A-Ram's walkoff, when some idiots decided that was a good time to throw beer cups (some still full) onto the field -- decidedly uncool.
Apart from that -- nice day, nice win (giving the Cubs, for today at least, the all-time regular season lead in wins, 31-30), and I'd think a psychological advantage, having taken both of the Sox' good setup men, Linebrink and Octavio Dotel, deep today. Onward to tomorrow, and let's go Red Sox and Orioles tonight!
Finally, my thoughts on Carlos Zambrano's shoulder problem, which will have him missing one start (at least): it's irresponsible for anyone to say he's going on the DL, because no one with the Cubs has suggested that yet, and although there are rumors the Cubs could call up Sean Marshall to throw in Z's turn Tuesday, why not just use the off-day to push the rotation back a day? That way if Z happens to be OK and ready to throw during the White Sox series, there's no need for a DL move.