Now, it's not true that the Cubs actually stopped the rain, although the misty, drizzly fog that had settled over Wrigley Field during this entire series finally ceased around 1 p.m. today, allowing the game to start with only a 30 minute delay.
When it did begin, the teams decided that it wasn't enough just to play another game in the cold -- I cannot remember another full series this late in the season where the temperature never got above 50 degrees -- they decided To. Play. As. Slowly. As. Possible.
They combined to throw 330 pitches; the hitters combined for 26 hits and seven walks and it seemed that the hitters were attempting to accommodate every single person who showed up for today's 9-3 Cubs win over the Mets with his or her own personal foul ball. The game further was dragged out by Mets manager Terry Collins' four mid-inning pitching changes, including a mind-boggling switch from Jason Isringhausen to Francisco Rodriguez with one out in the eighth and a six-run deficit. Mike Quade trumped that odd move by pinch-hitting Casey Coleman for Kerry Wood. Perhaps the cold weather froze the managers' brains today.
This win is significant for another reason. It is the Cubs' first series win at home since April 18-20 over the Padres, and it gives the Cubs bragging rights over the Mets in their all-time standings, 345 wins to 344, at least until the teams meet again in New York in September. That breaks down as follows by ballpark:
Wrigley Field: 186-165
Polo Grounds: 10-8
Shea Stadium: 147-167
Citi Field: 2-5
Ah, for the old days of the Polo Grounds, when in 1962 the Mets were the only team keeping the Cubs out of last place.
Moving back to modern times, the Cubs had to come from behind today for a change, and it worked; Carlos Pena hit a two-run homer off Pedro Beato in the fourth inning, starting a four-run rally. Beato was only in the game because Mets starter R.A. Dickey slipped and fell going to cover first base on an infield grounder and hurt his right foot. That can be attributed to the wet field conditions; Kosuke Fukudome also slipped after catching a Carlos Beltran fly ball in the eighth inning. This is yet another reason games shouldn't be played in these conditions; Kosuke got up, apparently just startled by the fall, but it's possible Dickey might have to miss some time for the Mets. That isn't fair to him or their team.
Pena's home run was the first Cubs home run in a week (since Marlon Byrd homered at Florida last Thursday) and Fukudome added his first homer in the eighth inning. The conditions didn't seem at all conducive to that sort of thing, with the wind howling in at 15 MPH (according to the box score, and it seemed way faster than that). The Cubs also used three hits from Tony Campana, making his first major league start in center field (and he also made two nice catches in the first inning, and got picked off after one of the hits, an eventful day) and three from Carlos Zambrano, who is hitting .375 on the season.
Z also threw six solid innings, but after the game it was reported that he was to see team doctors for "neck stiffness". This is likely due to the cold weather and nothing serious; it was also reported that he expects to make his next start. The Cubs also announced after the game that they had acquired Rodrigo Lopez from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for minor league pitcher Ryan Buchter, who was pitching in Double-A. Lopez had a pretty bad year for the Diamondbacks last year, but had done well for Triple-A Gwinnett in the Braves organization this season. He is expected to be on the roster as of tomorrow; whether that will be in a starting or relief role is yet to be determined.
Of the 33,378 who paid for a ticket to today's game, I estimate only around 10,000 actually showed up (fewer than showed up to see Triple-A Iowa play today in pleasant 65-degree weather in Des Moines). Had the Cubs postponed this game until August 18 or September 8 (the only two common off days these teams have), they'd likely have gotten more people to show up, plus possibly sell some of the remaining tickets. As I have written before, the risk of injury to players is one big reason not to play under deplorable conditions like this. I'm certainly happy that the Cubs won -- and managed an offensive explosion under pretty bad conditions for hitting -- but at some point, common sense has to trump marketing.
On to play the Pirates tomorrow. The Cubs have begun this homestand by doing what I said they had to do -- at minimum -- to have any hope this year, win two of three. Keep it up, and who knows? Doug Davis faces Kevin Correia. The weather people promise sunshine and temperatures in the 50s Friday, and in the 80s by Monday. I'll believe those when I see them.