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Al's Day, Er, Night, At The Ballpark, Er, At Home, Er...

What is it with the Cardinals and rain?

The horrendous Mother's Day rainstorm forced tomorrow's day/night doubleheader. So I guess ol' Mother Nature figured on this return of the Cardinals, she'd make everyone labor harder on Labor Day, with a similar rainstorm that just wouldn't stop. Only difference -- it was about 20 degrees warmer today.

Well, it rained. And rained some more. Got some updates every half hour, and by about 4:30 it looked like it wasn't going to stop. So I left.

By the time I got home there was no more rain on the radar, and it had stopped, and they had pulled the tarp off the field. And so... I had some dinner, and went back to the park (Floyd, the security supervisor, told me I could get back in with my stub). Got a better parking place than the first one, too.

It was well worth the time, let me tell you. I'd say about 15,000-18,000 of the 38,410 announced crowd stayed around for Mark Prior's 14th win of the season, a well-pitched 7-0 win over the Cardinals that was finished off by Kyle Farnsworth (in a nice confidence-building inning), since Prior labored at times in his 131-pitch outing.

The wind was howling in at 25 MPH and cost several players home runs -- Albert Pujols whacked one in the first, and Aramis Ramirez would have had a grand slam on any normal day. The Cubs strung together several hits in a row in their six-run fifth inning...

Which I wholly credit to Howard, who called about 6:15 and said he'd just come out of a movie, and were they playing? Well, it was the top of the third, and I had his ticket, since he'd given it to me to sell if I could. I said, "Come on over!" About 45 minutes later, he arrived... and before I could even come downstairs and meet him, he met me at the top of the ramp and said he had to bring the ticket back downstairs to show them he really had it.

So the first inning he actually saw was that bottom of the fifth rally. Hey, whatever it takes -- if that's what can make the Cubs rally, I'm all for it.

Kudos also to Ramon Martinez, who made a tremendous play on Fernando Vina's sharp grounder up the middle in the top of the fifth, in what was at the time still a scoreless game; that held Mike Matheny at third, where he'd otherwise have scored. Sometimes plays like this get lost in a game dominated by a pitcher like Prior (who also had two hits and an RBI), and it ought to not go unmentioned.

So -- the Cubs are back to a game and a half out, and with Wood and Zambrano throwing in tomorrow's DH (it will likely be Zambrano in game 1, since he tends to have a lot of nervous energy and Dusty will want to get that out early rather than let him sit around and think, plus the fact that Wood's record is better in night games), there is hope yet again.

Looking forward to meeting Scott Lange of The Northside Lounge blog at tomorrow's afternoon game.