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Tying One On

MESA, Arizona -- I suspect most of you watched the game on WGN today, so a few personal notes -- today was the first day our group from the RF bleachers was complete -- Howard, Jon, Brian, and Tony joined Carole & Ernie & me on the LF lawn. In a little while they're all coming over to grill out on our new George Foreman grill. I love the George! Even I can cook on a George!

But anyway, today's 6-6, 11-inning tie between the Giants and Cubs at Mesa was entertaining, if pretty sloppily played.

Alan Benes surely pitched his way off the team today, allowing four hits and four runs in the first inning, and all the hits were smacked pretty hard. I'll give Benes credit for settling down and throwing three decent innings after that, but the Cubs have five starters already, and with Kerry Wood apparently ready to go now, there's really no place for him.

A few other notes on today's game:

* Bobby Hill didn't start -- the start was given to Mark Grudzielanek. Neither distinguished himself at the plate, both going 0-for-3. Hill did make a couple of nice stops in the field.

* Troy O'Leary looked terrific -- he was officially credited with a 4-for-4, but the one in the ninth inning which wound up tying the game, was really an error. Still, he pounded two extra-base hits and played well in the outfield. I think O'Leary could be one of the Cubs' best offseason pickups.

* The rest of the bullpen threw well today, except for Felix Sanchez, who was all over the place, and made a throwing error to boot. After the first inning, the pen threw ten innings, allowed four hits and one walk and one unearned run. Mark Guthrie and Joe Borowski were particularly effective.

* Kurt Ainsworth of the Giants pitched six very effective innings -- he's their top pitching prospect.

* We figured Bud Selig must have been in attendance since the game was called after 11 innings. No, seriously, I know why they didn't play further -- most of the time in spring training, there are only a certain number of pitchers who the managers want to get work, and with the Giants running six pitchers out there and the Cubs seven, I think everyone who needed work got it.

* The crowd seemed to be almost half Giants fans -- this was probably the largest crowd of the year, being a weekend, and with the weather spectacularly perfect, the sellout will probably be repeated when the teams rematch at Scottsdale tomorrow. Scottsdale Stadium is my favorite of all the AZ spring training parks.

* Best news of all, the human air-raid siren was nowhere to be heard all afternoon. What a pleasant surprise.