Alfonso Soriano of the Chicago Cubs steals third base as Wilson Valdez of the Cincinnati Reds makes a late tag at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
In a nine-inning game that lasted a ridiculous three hours and 56 minutes -- the second-longest game of the year for the Cubs, by time, including extra-inning games -- the Cubs made five errors (by five different players), issued five walks and gave up 15 hits (including a home run hit by Ryan Ludwick to dead-center field into the teeth of a 21-mile-per-hour wind). The Reds probably could have scored 15 or 16 runs, except they left 13 men on base.
As a manager, you probably don't care much about that as long as your team wins, as the Reds did over the Cubs, 10-8, but every time Cubs pitchers or fielders allowed Cincinnati to score more runs, Cubs hitters managed to sneak their team back into the game.
I don't really even know where to start, there was so much going on. Maybe the Reds' third inning, where Anthony Rizzo muffed a ball before Ludwick's homer, followed by a Josh Vitters error that allowed Wilson Valdez to reach base, followed by a Starlin Castro error... you get the idea. Castro's error is the only one there I really had issues with; he looked like he was trying to flip it for the third out before he had control of it and lost focus. That's something I thought he had addressed long ago. Here's hoping this is not the start of a bad trend.
More errors happened in the sixth, when ... well, Welington Castillo tried to throw Drew Stubbs out stealing, and the ball went into center field, where Brett Jackson let it go by him, allowing Stubbs to score. Darwin Barney and Castro also came close to getting their hands on that one; ever seen a play where four players had their hands on the ball at the same time? I don't think I've ever seen something like that, not in a major-league game, anyway.
The wind played havoc with a number of fly balls, including blowing a couple of popups from catchable fair balls into the stands, and a couple more into hits, and... it was like all the players on both teams were playing in slow motion, or getting paid by the hour Friday, or something. What a mess of a game.
Props to Alfonso Soriano, who was one of the few Cubs who didn't have trouble with the wind; he made a couple of nice catches, drove in three runs and stole a base. Hard to believe, but I can't imagine what the Cubs would look like without Soriano right now.
Barney had three hits and David DeJesus and Castillo had a pair each. Castillo's starting to look consistent with the bat; at this point I'd like to see him play every day for a few weeks, just to see what he can do (maybe with an occasional day-game-after-night-game off).
Oh, and Aroldis Chapman is really, really good. This is the first time the Cubs have seen him in the closer role; he struck out three of the four hitters he faced (only Castro managed to hit a fair ball, a popup to center field). I was kind of hoping someone would get on base in the ninth inning, so Jackson would have faced him. That would have been fun to watch, except Dale Sveum had Joe Mather on deck to bat for Jackson. What fun is that? Mather wouldn't have had any chance against Chapman, either -- at least give the rookie the shot. Anyway, it didn't matter when Vitters struck out to end the game.
Chapman has now faced 209 batters this year and struck out 103 of them. Amazing.
"Amazing" isn't quite the word for Friday's game, and I'm not sure I really have one. It was entertaining, I'll say that, but I could have done with it being an hour shorter, and I might have even left something out here, there was so much going on. At least the rain stayed away. Saturday, Travis Wood makes his first start against his former team.