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One For The Ages...

... well, almost.

If not for Michael Barrett -- and isn't that the way it always works, one of the slower guys on the team? -- beating out an infield hit in the fifth inning, last night would have gone down as the second day in major league history on which two no-hitters were thrown, the other being June 29, 1990 when Fernando Valenzuela threw one for the Dodgers against the Cardinals, and Dave Stewart no-hit the Blue Jays in Toronto for Oakland.

And on a night when Jason Schmidt decided to show everyone why he should have been the NL Cy Young Award winner last year, that's what you start rooting for. It was hard because with the score only 1-0, you figure you still have a chance to win the game if you can get anyone on base, but apart from Barrett's single, the Cubs had only a Moises Alou walk and, of all things, a dropped third strike allowing Matt Clement to reach base, and the Giants made that run stand up for a 1-0 win over the Cubs, snapping the four-game winning streak and starting the homestand on a down note.

We had June weather much of April, and last night we had April weather in May, and by tomorrow it should feel like August, hot and humid. Last night's chill wasn't oppressive, and the wind was blowing in, but the Cubs only hit six balls out of the infield anyway. Carole kept complaining about the lack of action on the field, and unfortunately, the only hit was early enough that there was really no no-hitter tension at all. Instead it was the first one-hitter at Wrigley Field since Jon Lieber and Kerry Wood threw them on consecutive days, May 24 and 25, 2001.

Ernie had called Carole after seven innings had passed in the Atlanta/Arizona game to let us know about Randy Johnson's masterpiece in progress, but we already knew by webphone, and there was a buzz going through the crowd as a few other people were talking about it. Naturally, the fancy new message boards gave no information whatsoever about the perfect game, either in progress or when it was over. However, they did post information on both of Matt Clement's wild pitches, which came with Schmidt on base in the eighth inning. We figured Clement was just trying to tire him out by making him run too hard, but to no avail.

We were all astounded that Felipe Alou left Schmidt in for 144 pitches and a complete game, especially since the no-hitter possibility was long gone, but then after looking at the Giants' bullpen roster, we understood. Alou did have Matt Herges and Scott Eyre warming up in the 9th, I suppose in case anyone got on base, but no one did. Schmidt had 13 strikeouts and pretty much made everyone look bad all night.

For Clement's part, he didn't have his "A" game on but pitched gamely through eight innings. If you give up five hits, two walks and a run, you should win 99% of the time, but (naturally) a Barry Bonds walk led to the only run of the game. Just for tradition's sake, Kyle Farnsworth came in and walked the first batter he faced -- Bonds, who had missed the Giants' weekend series due to back spasms. Bonds now has more than twice as many walks (56) as hits (27), and a .624 on-base percentage. After having skied a few balls into the bleachers during BP (against the wind), Bonds got roundly booed every time he came to bat. This strikes me as both a sign of respect for an opponent, and perhaps a statement by some in the crowd about Bonds' supposed involvement in the ongoing steroid scandal.

This game reminded me of a game the 1984 Eastern Division champion Cubs played against the Mets on September 7, 1984, going into New York with a 7-game division lead, only to see Dwight Gooden one-hit them, on, of all things, a hit almost exactly like Barrett's last night, an infield single to 3B by one of the slowest players on the team, Keith Moreland.

It was another scratch-off giveaway day (a Fergie Jenkins autographed ball), so Jeff, Howard and I picked up the usual collection of discarded cards. Just before gametime I decided to count them to see how many we had... 31. Fergie's number. I thought this was good luck. But I couldn't resist picking up four more cards later, and thus turned Fergie into Alan Benes, and that's probably why we didn't win any of the second chance giveaway balls.

Jon got a ticket at the last minute and showed up with raspberry Milano cookies, which we ate as "Rally Milanos" when the Cubs were batting. This failed, as did the orange Milanos he brought last time. Thus, all fruit-flavored Milanos have now been banned from the bleachers, as were the segregated (all-black) Oreos that Carole brought. Only Mint Milanos for us!

Finally, Sammy Sosa sneezed his way onto the DL with the violent sneeze that apparently sprained a ligament in his back. Wow. I sneeze pretty hard, and I got back spasms too, on Sunday, but a couple of Aleves took them away. While Sosa will be missed, Todd Hollandsworth is a much better option this year than Troy O'Leary was last year when Sosa was out, and even so, the Cubs went 13-12 without Sammy in the lineup in 2003. Jason Dubois, who tore up the Arizona Fall League last year and has 12 homers in 39 games at Iowa so far this year, will be recalled to fill the roster spot later today. And while Sosa is out, our little bench better watch out, because while Sammy frequently throws warmup balls into the bleachers, he rarely throws them more than about halfway up. Hollandsworth threw a couple fairly close to us, and of course every time there's a $10 baseball thrown into the stands, people are diving all over each other trying to grab it.