Who would have guessed that last night's Cubs game would end before the Blackhawks game? (That one didn't turn out so well, either.)
In last night's game preview, I said I figured it might be among the fastest games of the year because both pitchers, Ted Lilly and Joel Piñeiro, threw strikes (only 16 combined walks for the two of them in 89 innings). Lilly walked three, but it was still a good enough outing for him to win most of the time (seven innings, three earned runs). At two hours and five minutes, it was the fastest game of the year by a wide margin.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, Piñeiro chose last night to make his best start in several seasons (it was his first CG shutout since May 30, 2003), and the Cardinals shut out the Cubs 3-0, the first CG shutout vs. the Cubs since Randy Wolf, then with Houston, shut them out 4-0 last September 3.
The tone for the game was set in the first inning when Alfonso Soriano, who had led off with a single, was picked off. This is never a good thing, obviously, and who knows? Maybe the Cubs would have manufactured a run or two and got Piñeiro out of there early. Instead, the next two hitters in the first grounded out, two of the seventeen groundouts Piñeiro had. He entered the ninth inning having thrown a Maddux-like 78 pitches and threw only 92 for the game, 64 for strikes. True to his early-season form, he didn't walk anyone, and gave up only two other hits, a Derrek Lee single in the 2nd and a Mike Fontenot double in the 5th.
The Cardinals manufactured a run in the last of that inning on a single, a sacrifice and another single, and though none of us knew it at the time, we all might as well have switched over to the Blackhawks game right there. Colby Rasmus put the game completely out of reach with a two-run homer off Lilly in the fifth, the only real mistake Ted made.
That's enough about this game -- all you can say after a game like that is, "We'll get 'em tomorrow." So I wanted to use the rest of this post for a couple of other issues: first, to discuss a link that BCB reader northofwrigley posted in the preview thread regarding blackouts:
Doing away with blackout restrictions is essential in order for MLBAM to take their business to the next level of growth. Right now, MLB.TV is missing a huge percentage of the market who would not get MLB.TV simply because they don't travel and don't need to follow their team outside of their viewing area. The moment MLBAM can open the service up to anyone who wants to follow their team outside of the TV set, the size of the market that MLB.TV can go after increases dramatically.
To which I say, "Duh!" The technology exists to do this (and has, in fact, existed for many years); what, exactly, they are waiting for is beyond me. Although, maybe those of you in blackout areas would rather NOT have seen last night's game.
Finally, can you imagine the angst if, as Chris DeLuca suggests in today's Sun-Times, Mark DeRosa wound up as a Milwaukee Brewer? Personally, if the Tribe wants to trade DeRo -- get him back, not for sentimental reasons, but because the Cubs could use a player exactly like him. He may be off to a mediocre start in Cleveland, but he is a lifetime .307/.396/.468 hitter in Wrigley Field (in over 600 PA) as opposed to .213/.292/.375 (89 PA) in the Jake. (He's right in the middle of those two -- .262/.313/.410 -- in 67 career PA at Miller Park.) Seriously, Jim Hendry -- bring him back, rather than see him go to your biggest division rival.