It was really considerate of the city of St. Louis to shoot off fireworks for the Cubs' 2-1 win over the Cardinals, wasn't it?
Just as Kerry Wood was finishing off the victory, the grand finale of the downtown St. Louis 4th of July fireworks show splashed across the sky -- you could hear the "booms" loudly on TV, so I can only imagine how loud they must have been at Busch Stadium. For more firsthand information from St. Louis, see 08Cubs' FanPost, containing a short recap and photos from an excellent lower box seat (how'd you score that one, anyway?).
Everything went right last night... yes, everything. Carlos Zambrano threw six solid innings, going 87 pitches (Lou had said he'd be limited to 85-90, and despite batting in the top of the 7th and having a rather animated discussion with Lou in the dugout, Z was lifted to start the 7th) and allowing two walks and four singles, two of which were infield dribblers. Z was apparently "livid" (a quote from an article whose online link I cannot find right now) when they told him he was going on the DL, because he felt he didn't need the two weeks off. The team treaded water (losing one game off its division lead) during that time, but clearly, Z is fine, and he has pitched some of his best games in St. Louis. Last night was no exception, and his ninth win of the season keeps him in the running for an All-Star spot. He seemed focused and not too over-the-top; he threw strikes and wasn't trying to make up for the two weeks off all in one night.
Bob Howry, Neal Cotts and Kerry Wood all did their jobs last night -- I was especially pleased with Howry, even though he gave up the solo HR to Albert Pujols, because he got five outs on sixteen pitches. If Howry can throw this way every time out, there will be less pressure on Carlos Marmol. Cotts did the job he was asked to do -- retire one lefthanded hitter, Rick Ankiel.
One of the reasons I really enjoy watching Wood pitch is that he works quickly. He'll get the ball back and be ready to throw right away, and that keeps fielders ready, keeps the pace of the game at HIS pace, and I think is one of the many reasons he's been so successful. The WGN speed meter had him at 96-97 MPH. Second in the NL in saves, Wood should also be an All-Star selection. We'll find out on Sunday. Incidentally, and maybe this sounds like a homer comment, but Troy Glaus' histrionics when he was called out on strikes by plate umpire Ted Barrett seemed a little over the top and I'm surprised he wasn't ejected. The pitches were close, but on TV at least, appeared to be strikes.
The Cub offense wasn't great yesterday, but the two solo HR by Kosuke Fukudome (who had a terrific at-bat before slicing the ball into the RF seats) and Geovany Soto (who had three hits and nearly hit two HR off Braden Looper) were enough. Say, do you do this? If the Cubs lose, I switch the TV off right after the last out. When they win, I'll leave it on for a while to savor it.
Finally, a tip o' the BCB cap to Cardinals fans, who gave Jim Edmonds a long, warm standing ovation on his first at-bat last night. This is, I think, what distinguishes the Cub/Cardinal rivalry from, say, the Yankee/Red Sox rivalry. For me, at least, it is a healthy respect for the other team and for the long rivalry between the two teams -- and there really is nothing better than a pennant race between the Cubs and Cardinals (especially when the Cubs come out on top). Did Red Sox fans welcome Johnny Damon back in Yankee pinstripes? I doubt it. Those people seem to really hate each other. I'd like to think Cubs and Cardinals fans are better than that.
That said, nice win. Go get 'em again today.