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Yawn, Part Deux

At least this time this somnolent game, unlike the last one when we were all so bored (Dave fell asleep for a time), the Cubs beat the Astros into submission 7-1 today.

Matt Clement's pitching line looks pretty good -- 5.2 IP, 3 hits, one run (unearned), 8 strikeouts. But he was in trouble in almost every inning, throwing 97 pitches and boring us to tears most of the time. Luckily, Jared Fernandez was just about as bad for the Astros (I almost typed "Reds", the team he was with until about a month ago), and some timely hitting by Hee Seop Choi and Alex Gonzalez, two players in deep slumps, staked the Cubs to a 5-1 lead by the time Clement had to be pulled.

Clement did get his 10th win, which gives the Cubs four starters with ten or more wins, and all of them have a shot at 15 wins, which would be a very impressive feat.

Dave, during the time he wasn't sleeping, said he heard Dusty Baker on the pregame show on the radio saying that he was starting Choi because he had been swinging late, and someone swinging late might have a good chance to hit the knuckleballing Fernandez, and he turned out to be right on. See, this is why Baker is such a good manager -- he has good reasons for what he does, even if they sometimes seem bizarre to the rest of us. There is a reason he was successful for ten years in San Francisco, even in years where he didn't have the best talent.

The nine pitchers used by both teams combined to issue thirteen walks and Houston pitchers hit three batters, including two by the just-acquired Rick White (how could any scout who saw him throw for the White Sox this year ever think that he could help a major league team?) -- contributing mightily to the boredom that we were all feeling, something that was finally broken in the seventh inning when some clouds that were building finally lifted, allowing the Air Force Thunderbirds to wake everyone up with their rehearsal for this weekend's Chicago Air & Water Show. It's always fun to watch the air show from the ballpark, especially on Thursday & Friday, their "rehearsal" days, when there aren't many people on the lakefront, but the pilots know there are 40,000 people watching at Wrigley Field, so they give us a pretty good show. They flew probably only 500 feet off the ground in formation, and were unbelievably loud today.

Speaking of large crowds, the Cubs set a new attendance record for a 4-game series, drawing 159,040 to the four games against Houston; this is even more impressive considering none of the games was on a weekend.

The ballyhooed rematchup of Mark Prior & Kevin Brown will not occur, as the Dodgers changed their rotation (as I have now learned, due to a minor injury to Andy Ashby, who will now face Prior tomorrow) and Brown threw today in Miami, and defeated the Marlins 6-4, which helps the Cubs pull within 2 1/2 games of the wild-card lead, as well as now being only 1/2 game out of the first-place tie forced today when the Cardinals beat the Pirates 4-3, but not before Jason Isringhausen gave up two runs in the ninth inning.

Dusty is supposedly also thinking about skipping Shawn Estes' turn in the rotation due to the off-day Monday, and throwing Clement, Prior and Wood against the Astros in Houston, and I think that would be a very good idea; further, in at least the first game of the series, he could act as another situational lefty in the bullpen.

Sight seen: four women wearing shirts that said "Bachelorette Babes", one of whom had a pink hat which read "Party Princess". They weren't doing anything odd, just standing around talking.

Sign seen: Yesterday a kid maybe 10 years old had a sign that said "My 1st Cub Game". Today the same kid was back with the same sign, changed to read "My 2nd Cub Game". We also sat near some people from Iowa, at their first game (we could tell because one of them had a RED Cub jersey (at first I thought it was a Cardinal shirt); he said it was an Iowa Cubs batting practice jersey, and his girlfriend had a Harry Caray's restaurant shirt -- just screaming out "TOURIST!!" Otherwise it was a lovely peaceful afternoon, no brawls or even ejections.

I know that many of you may not see this till tomorrow or later due to the massive power outage in the Northeast US and parts of Canada. I fervently hope that this is not terrorist-related; at this writing it appears not to be, and I hope all of you find yourself safe, wherever you are.