Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs rounds second base after a two-run home run during a game against the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Saturday's 3-2 Cubs win over the Astros was so slow that Len and Bob started talking about random things on the air -- so random that two hours after someone told me what they were, I can't remember what they were.
The game was so slow that I started counting the number of gulls that were perching on the roof wondering, "Why are all these people still here at 5:30 p.m.? That's our time!" There were approximately 80 of them.
It was so slow that an hour and a half after it started, the teams had not quite completed the fourth inning (compared to Friday, when they were in the seventh at the 1:30 mark).
It was so slow that Matt Garza was actually able to lay down a successful sacrifice bunt... just before hilariously falling down on the mound trying to field a bunt by Jed Lowrie. Wait, that has nothing to do with slowness... or does it?
Enough of the slow commments. Anthony Rizzo's first home run as a Cub, a blast skied into the right-field party patio, highlighted a three-run fifth inning and the Cubs hung on using five relievers after Matt Garza tired before he could finish the sixth inning. Garza threw 104 pitches. All told, the teams combined for 287 pitches on a sultry, humid afternoon with a far-below-capacity crowd. More on that later.
Garza kept allowing baserunners; he gave up nine hits and three walks. And the Astros kept accomodating the Cubs by hitting into double plays (three of them) and running into outs on the bases (three of them, including a fine, accurate throw to the plate by Rizzo to cut down ex-Cub Scott Moore trying to score. Yes, that's the same Scott Moore the Cubs acquired in the Kyle Farnsworth trade in 2005 and then shipped to the Orioles in 2007, along with Rocky Cherry, for the corpse of Steve Trachsel). Just so you don't think the Cubs are the only team making TOOTBLANs, the Astros had some absolutely horrific baserunning today.
I think Dale Sveum overmanages the lefty/righty platoon advantage; there's no reason James Russell or Manuel Corpas wouldn't have both thrown complete relief innings Saturday. Instead, Sveum used everyone in the pen except Casey Coleman (who might be heading back to Iowa after Chris Volstad is recalled to start Tuesday) and Jairo Asencio. This will likely result in overwork for some of these pitchers, but Saturday, they threw 3⅔ innings of scoreless relief, allowing just one hit and the traditional Carlos Marmol walk. (Is it even possible for Marmol to throw an inning without either walking or hitting a batter, or both? Rhetorical question, no response needed.)
Now, about the crowd. The announced total was 37,906; maybe 31,000-32,000 were in the house, and the bleachers were about two-thirds full. This is obviously because this game was priced at marquee level ($85) for bleacher tickets. Had they priced it at platinum ($56), they'd probably have sold out the bleachers, made almost the same amount of money via ticket sales, but had 2,000 more people in the bleachers buying food and drink. It's the emptiest I've seen the bleachers on a summer Saturday in probably two decades.
Don't get too excited, but the Cubs could sweep this series if Travis Wood can outpitch Wandy Rodriguez on Sunday. That's feasible, but remember the Astros are 9-27 on the road this year. Sweeping this series would be like the sweep over the Padres at the end of May; that was followed by eight losses in nine games on the road.
Such is the 2012 season. Happy July, everyone.