Dire weather forecasts for today's North Side/South Side matchup had temperatures predicted to be 98 degrees, with heat indices as high as 107. The Cubs set up misting stations in the back of the left field bleachers in preparation for this weather... which never arrived.
Instead, ominous-looking clouds scudded by Wrigley Field and dark skies hung over Lake Michigan before the game:
A large thunderstorm was blowing through the south side -- had this game been played at the Cell, it might have been delayed -- and the south suburbs, creating a wind high enough that caps were blowing off both fans and team employees in the stands and cooling the temperatures off so much (to 70 degrees at game time with a reported 24-MPH wind that gusted much higher) that long lines formed at Wrigley gift shops to buy long-sleeved garments.
I suppose I've postponed the inevitable long enough. The Cubs lost to the White Sox 6-4, in part because Mike Quade stayed too long with Randy Wells Friday afternoon. Quade admitted in his postgame remarks that he "overthought" things, mainly because the bullpen was overworked due to the doubleheader Tuesday and Thursday's 13-inning affair, and so he left Jeff Samardzija standing waiting while Wells walked Adam Dunn and then gave up a triple to Juan Pierre, which scored what proved to be the winning runs for the Sox.
Wells had another bad first inning, just as he did in his last start at Kansas City. He now has a 9.00 ERA in the first inning this season, compared to a 2.93 ERA in the second and third innings combined. He settled down until the seventh -- entering that inning with only 69 pitches thrown, 49 for strikes -- when Alexei Ramirez hit a two-run homer to tie the game, just after Aramis Ramirez had given the Cubs a 4-2 lead with a homer of his own in the sixth. That home run was Aramis' 300th career HR. He's the third hitter in the last two years to reach that milestone in a Cubs uniform (both Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano did so last year).
After that, it was lights-out from the Sox bullpen, although it was odd that Ozzie Guillen didn't call on either of his lefthanders to face lefthanded Cubs hitters. Maybe it didn't matter to Ozzie, or he figured Brian Bruney, Jesse Crain and Sergio Santos didn't need much help, and as it turned out, they didn't. Even Carlos Pena -- who entered the game hitting .265/.381/.546 against righthanded pitching, as opposed to .095/.247/.206 vs. LHP -- was allowed to face the righthanded Crain, who struck him out on three straight sliders.
Finally, the Cubs are holding their "Wrigleyville Block Party" again this weekend. When I went by before the game, it appeared pretty sparsely attended; perhaps the weather kept people away. I do want to mention the following, because I got some interesting photos of three Cubs at a Nike customization site that's part of this event: