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Mark Is Eight!

My son Mark turned 8 yesterday; we got him an old-fashioned wooden baseball game for his birthday, and then gave him his choice on where to go for dinner. California Pizza Kitchen... OK, I know, boring.

Well, that's it for my entry today. Catch you tomorrow.

Oh!

You want to know about the Cub game too, I suppose. Gee, I was trying to avoid that.

The Cubs got blown out by the Astros 9-3 last night in a game that wasn't as close as that score indicated.

How bad was it? Kerry Wood got shelled again. Whether his back was bothering him or not, I don't know (he claims it wasn't), but we saw the Kerry Wood we don't like again -- I don't mean the pitching, I mean his antics in the dugout, showing his frustration, showing how angry he was, and you simply can't do that, because that channels all your energy away from the job at hand and shows the other team that you can't handle it. Simply put, Kerry needs to grow up. It's almost embarrassing how a pitcher nearly four years younger shows much more maturity than a five-year major league veteran. Mark Prior insists "Kerry's our go-to guy." But he's not. Prior is.

The Cubs loaded the bases twice in the first five innings and came out with only one run. Damian Miller hit into a double play to end the first rally, and then after a sac fly, Ramon Martinez made an ill-advised run to third (why would you bother doing that with two out, and it's going to take a hit to score you anyway?) and was thrown out for another double play.

I still cannot understand why Dusty insists on starting Doug Glanville against lefties. Look, Dusty: Glanville can't hit. Whatever hot streak he had with Texas, it's gone now, and not coming back. This is the only one of the recent acquisitions that is a complete waste. Not only that, but by starting Glanville, that left only left-handed hitters on the bench when it came time to pinch-hit for Wood with the bases loaded in the fifth. So Tom F. Goodwin (yes, that "F" is back) came up, and of course, struck out.

Now what's wrong with that picture? Well, first of all, wouldn't you want a power hitter up then? Someone who could clear the bases? OK, so Randall Simon isn't exactly a perfect power hitter. But he has a better chance of making a then 5-1 game close than Tom F. Goodwin. Frankly, leaving Wood himself up to hit, then taking him out, or pinch-hitting Mark Prior, would have been a better choice.

Even at that, the game wasn't out of hand till the Astros got five straight hits off Dave Veres, who was way off his game last night.

This isn't a disaster yet. The Cubs sit exactly where they were two days ago: third, a game and a half out, and one game down in the loss column, and the Cardinals are playing the Phillies this weekend, and I'd bet the Phillies are fighting mad after getting swept in Milwaukee. Meanwhile, the Astros play the Reds this weekend at home. The Cubs finished the season series 9-7 against Houston, so any ground to be made up there, they'll need help. The Cubs can still put the Cardinals away themselves, with eight games coming up against them in the next two weeks.

But that makes it even more imperative that the Cubs win two of three in Arizona this weekend. Carlos Zambrano faces Curt Schilling tonight. Schilling has been death on the Cubs in his career, but his year has been up and down, and Zambrano, obviously, needs to throw the game of his life tonight.

I wound up listening to some of the game on the radio, and both Ron and Pat mentioned how "up" they both were for the game. Too bad the rest of the team wasn't.