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Plan Of Attack

That's the title of Washington Post writer Bob Woodward's new book about the run-up to the Iraq war.

I was reading it yesterday afternoon, sitting outside as it was a nice sunny (though coolish) day in Chicago.

Those of you who have read this blog for a time know exactly where I stand politically, so I won't go into my feelings about the book and the war any further.

But the title of this book -- OK, I admit, in a roundabout way -- leads me into the subject of this post. You also probably know how superstitious I am regarding the Cubs; just as players are this way, I've taken to becoming this way. Yes, I know that this has nothing to do with their actual performance on the field. But it makes me feel better.

So I have learned my "Plan Of Attack" for the West Coast night games, since I can rarely stay up to watch the end, given that I get up at 3 am for work.

I have learned that Mark has been staying up listening to the end of the games on the radio. Last night he didn't quite make it to the end of the game, but he said he fell asleep when it was 7-3, and that was good enough, because the Cubs held on for a 7-5 win over the Padres. So the Plan of Attack must have worked. I shut last night's game off after the fourth inning in a 2-2 tie, going to sleep to get up for work, and told him, "Get us a win."

Sammy Sosa hit his 549th career home run in the very next inning, giving the Cubs the lead they would not relinquish; that homer puts him in ninth place on the all-time list, one ahead of Mike Schmidt, and next up, 14 away, is Reggie Jackson.

Noting that, I might get another milestone later this summer. Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 489th homer last night in the Reds' 4-0 win over the Dodgers, and the Reds are back in Chicago for two games in mid-July... this might be just about the right timing for his 500th. If he doesn't get hurt again.

Now, back to the Cubs. Sergio Mitre threw yet another game that appears to be his trademark -- struggling with seemingly every batter, yet he comes out of it with six innings pitched, three runs allowed, and another win, his second of the season.

Dusty gave Todd Hollandsworth another start, this time subbing for Derrek Lee at 1B -- reason being, he had been 7-for-13 with three walks and two homers lifetime against SD starter Adam Eaton, and he responded with a 2-for-4 game. This is why Baker is such a good manager -- he gives his bench guys enough playing time that they respond whenever they get starts, and Hollandsworth could be the most valuable pickup of the offseason.

That guy, whoever he is, who is wearing Jose Macias' uniform had two more hits, raising his average to .297 (but he Still Sucks), and Moises Alou had four hits, including a homer to left-center that just made the first row. Sosa's was, at 421 feet, the longest one hit in the 21-game history of (Corporate Name) Park. Aramis Ramirez also homered, and with 22% of the season now gone, the Cubs have three players (Sosa, Alou and Ramirez) with at least nine homers, giving each of them a chance at 40, though with Alou I'd think 30 is a more realistic target. Once Derrek Lee gets going I think he also has a chance to hit 30 this year.

On Thursday one of my fellow soldiers in the Cubs Blog Army, Chris of The Northside Report (not to be confused with my friend Scott Lange's Northside Lounge), wrote of his fears that the Cubs would go into San Diego and get swept, due to the lack of hitting (and what he considered to be three shaky pitchers, including, inexplicably, Greg Maddux).

The offense got rolling, and while I don't have that much confidence in Glendon Rusch either, the right-handed Cub offense ought to feast on David Wells, despite Wells having a 1.71 ERA in his last three starts. Wells isn't much of a strikeout pitcher any more -- he's got only 14 all season in 44 innings -- and so the Cub fastball hitters ought to be ready for him. Instead of being swept, the Cubs could have their first road sweep of the year and come home with a four-game winning streak and wouldn't that be nice?

Something of note for those of us who like to keep score, and this only happens once or twice a year, generally in the American League where there's a DH and thus no need to pinch-hit for pitchers: last night's 3-1 Oakland win over Kansas City had no lineup changes, which included a double complete game by pitchers Mark Mulder and Darrell May. That was rarer than the usual double complete game, because the visiting team won, thus both pitchers threw nine full innings.

Hey, I'm a baseball geek and proud of it!