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A Long Day's Journey Into Night

I had about three different leadins to today's post and soon, I'll take you through my thought process and the final result.

First, it's my opinion that if the Cubs had finished the bottom of the 6th (when the rain started falling) with the lead, the umpires would have waited the minimum time, then called the game. But with this being Arizona's only visit here this year, and with a national-TV date tomorrow (meaning no TV would be possible for a DH), the pressure was on to finish this game. That's why I call again, as I have
earlier this year after the ridiculous May 11 non-game vs. St. Louis, for a MLB rule change allowing games like this to be suspended.

Howard & I stayed for a very long time, well dry under ponchos and umbrellas (yes, I kept the backpack and scorecard completely dry) and finally, after Phil (who called me at 9:40 pm from Bernie's -- a bar near the ballpark, if you don't know, wondering if I was still at the game), Brian and Jeff (who had Lion King tickets tonight) all left, we started playing a game of chicken -- neither of us wanted to leave first. So at 6:15, with rain coming down harder than ever, we left together, each of us to drive home and see if they'd resume. I mean, I'm nuts, but I'm not stupid. It appeared that maybe 3,000 or 4,000 people were left after the delay, which is about normal for these kinds of things. If the delay hadn't been three hours, I might have stayed myself.

It's Howard's birthday tomorrow, and he's bringing his wife and daughter, so I guess he had to get home to rest up, also!

Anyway, Juan Cruz threw very well today (though I still don't think he has the stamina to be a fulltime rotation starter), and matched up almost pitch for pitch with Curt Schilling. Both starters were long gone after the delay. And then ... they played on long into the night. And I started working on today's game post, and, well...

So here, as promised, is an inside look at my thought process as I was preparing the post for today's marathon.

This is the paragraph I had ready to go as the game was reaching two out in the bottom of the 11th:

"I was all ready, especially when the Cubs had the bases loaded in the 7th, to sit here and post, right after the end of the game, an optimism-tinged post on the great comeback win, but unfortunately, Joe Borowski blew up in the 11th, and a dink hit by Rod Barajas scored two runs and the Diamondbacks beat the Cubs 3-1, snapping their own four-game losing streak."

But then Eric Karros and Aramis Ramirez hit dinky little singles themselves, and when Troy O'Leary doubled into the gap, our old friend Wavin' Wendell waved Ramirez around, and he either slid under the tag or the catcher dropped the ball (it was hard to tell even on the replays), and play continued into the 12th.

Then, I had this exciting paragraph ready to go, figuring they'd win it easily in the 12th, with the winning run at third with one out:

"Now I'm kind of wishing I'd stayed till the end of the incredible 4-3 comeback win over the Diamondbacks, probably as impressive and emotional a win as the Cubs have had all year."

After that, when Antonio Alfonseca managed to load the bases with only one out:

"Instead, here's the sad ending to a very long day, as Antonio Alfonseca, the last pitcher out of the bullpen, came in and sucked again, and the Diamondbacks finally beat the Cubs 4-3."

But somehow, Alfonseca got out of it by striking out Raul Mondesi and getting Alex Cintron to hit into an easy forceout. And then, amazingly enough, Antonio had to bat in the bottom of the 13th, and he laid down a nice sac bunt, but to no avail, as neither Damian Miller nor Kenny Lofton (sandwiched around an intentional walk to Ramon Martinez) could bring Aramis Ramirez home with the winner, so the night continued...

And here is the real game summary, finally decided after typing and re-typing over the last hour and a half...

Incredibly enough, Antonio Alfonseca, who has been booed off the field several times in the last month, turned out to be tonight's hero, throwing three scoreless innings, as the Cubs won 4-3, on what would have been a sac fly by Aramis Ramirez, his first game-winner as a Cub. I say "would have been", since Raul Mondesi dropped the ball, and it simply goes as a bases-loaded single. After nearly eight hours, I think the club will take it! This was an incredible, improbable win, and now I wish I had stayed -- even though, since I was parked in a zone-parking area, I probably would have gone home with a parking ticket.

I've said many times after a big win, how it could give the Cubs a lift -- and it rarely has. Now it's August and wins like this have to give that kind of lift. This makes 5 wins in the last 7 games, and that's a start that they have to build on.

They don't have to face Randy Johnson in this series, and oddly, Elmer Dessens, who was supposed to start on Sunday wound up pitching the 10th and 11th innings -- so Brandon Webb will make the Sunday start against Matt Clement. They pretty much ran through most of the rest of their bullpen today, as did the Cubs, and everyone threw well -- until Borowski, who is generally reliable, except for these kinds of spectacular blowups which happen at the absolute worst times (like the June 26 game against Milwaukee where he blew a game where Mark Prior had 16 strikeouts). Speaking of Prior, he has now officially been pencilled in to start on Tuesday at San Diego, and not a moment too soon. Again, the starting pitching came up strong today, but the anemic offense didn't help the staff out.

Alex Gonzalez, he of the 3 game-winning HR this season, came up in the bottom of the 9th with a chance to do it again, but struck out.

Sight seen: when we walked in, a bunch of 20-something men sat down wearing t-shirts that read -- well, I can't remember, but it was something about drinking, and we figured we were in trouble, but they were actually pleasant enough, and busied themselves flirting with a group of young women sitting in front of them wearing t-shirts reading "midwestern girl" (yes, in all lower case). By the time it started raining hard, they were all huddling together, and I suppose not only for keeping dry.

Signs seen: these were made down in the first row during the game by some enterprising people who came armed with markers. Sign #1 read: "Alfonseca 4 President". Followed by sign #2, which read: "So He Can't Pitch Anymore".

And I hope those signs were left in the rain -- since Antonio Alfonseca pretty much saved the day today. It just goes to show you that no matter how long you follow baseball, every day brings something new, interesting and exciting, that you hadn't expected to see.