... and some days, it isn't even worth coming to work.
Henry Blanco was the last batter both yesterday and today -- with very different results and impact. Yesterday he won the game. Today, he hit a comebacker to Cardinals reliever Brad Thompson in front of about half of the crowd, to end the Cubs' 12-3 blowout loss to the Cardinals, a game which matched the worst margin of loss of the season (nine runs, to the Reds on May 9), and the most runs allowed (also to the Reds, on July 10).
Sometimes these things are going to happen, even to good teams, and it was just "one of those days". How else can you explain Troy Glaus, who was 0-for-29 against Cub pitching so far this year, hitting two home runs off Carlos Zambrano, who allowed four HR today after allowing only ten in his previous 22 starts this year?
You could tell it was going to be one of "those days" when Skip Schumaker hit Z's first pitch off the RF wall for a double; he later scored. Mark DeRosa tied the game with a HR to the CF shrubbery in the 2nd, and after Albert Pujols homered to give St. Louis a 3-1 lead in the 3rd, Z hit his third homer of the year to the opposite field to make it 3-2. It was his 15th career homer, extending his club record, and tying him with Mike Hampton for the most among active pitchers. FWIW, the most HR for any pitcher who played his entire career after World War II is 33, held by Earl Wilson (that link says 35, but two of those were as a PH).
The HR was the only thing Z did right today. To us, it appeared that Z may be back to the old mechanical problems that he suffered last year, that dreaded "low arm slot". We can only hope that there's nothing wrong with the shoulder that put him on the DL for a while earlier this year. Maybe it's not a bad idea to have Z skip a start with the upcoming off days.
Had Lou yanked Z one batter earlier, when it was only 6-2, maybe the game would have turned out differently. Sean Marshall did a nice job of keeping the Cardinals down and so did Chad Gaudin -- at least for one inning; in Gaudin's second inning of work five Cardinals singled, making a 9-3 blowout into the ridiculous final score. In Lou's postgame remarks he said they briefly considered giving Kerry Wood the 9th, just to get him some work, but decided against it. Good idea, I think -- they may need him tomorrow, and that gives Wood an extra day to rest his back, which he said was good to go today if needed.
It was one of those strange days. When the bleacher season ticket holders were let in, as normal, a few minutes before the main gate opening, there were several hundred people already in the LF bleachers -- apparently part of some fundraising event. This was strange and threw off a lot of the regulars. And by the end of the game, alcohol fueled a fight just next to our LF corner -- between two Cardinals fans.
When you lose a game like this, especially when you know you're a good team, you just shrug your shoulders and move on to the next day. Win tomorrow and the Cubs will have accomplished a 6-3 homestand, winning all three series. The Brewers beat the Nats 6-0 tonight -- they haven't given Washington even one run in two games and thrown two CG shutouts -- so the Cubs' division lead is down to four games (man, do the Nats suck or what? Don't forget, the Cubs get to play them at Wrigley in two weeks). We'll get 'em tomorrow.