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So, Just How Much Is A Hollands Worth?

One ballgame, at the very least.

Todd Hollandsworth made an amazing, running-into-the-wall catch to possibly save the game in the 12th inning, and he may be, of all the Cubs' off-season moves, the most important pickup, because I cannot imagine where this team would be if Tom Goodwin, say, had had to play right field the last month while Sammy Sosa was out.

(The consensus, incidentally, in the Cubs newsgroup, was that Sammy would never have made that play. I agree. If the Cubs do let Moises Alou go in the offseason and seek a free agent outfielder, it ought to be a right fielder. It's time for Sammy to move to left, just as Billy Williams did late in his career.

Speaking of Sosa, he began a three-day rehab assignment at Double-A West Tenn yesterday, his first since 1992, with an RBI single and a walk, serving as the Diamond Jaxx' DH. Unlike Mark Prior's ballyhooed appearances at Lansing and Iowa, Sosa's appearance yesterday resulted in a less-than-sellout crowd of 5509. The Jaxx won 2-1, and perhaps more important than Sosa's appearance were the five scoreless, no-walk innings thrown by 2002 #1 draft choice Bobby Brownlie, who could earn a promotion to Triple-A sometime later this year. Sosa said afterwards he felt fine, and his return is still on target for Friday at Wrigley Field.

Everyone contributed to the Cubs' second 15-inning win of the year, 6-5 over the Angels in Anaheim yesterday.

And I mean everyone. In the bottom of the 15th, after Dusty had used up all seven of his relievers, finally justifying the 12-man pitching staff I've been railing against for weeks, Greg Maddux was warming up.

Fortunately, Jon Leicester shut the Angels down after Todd Walker had singled in the eventual winning run in the top of the inning, and the Cubs had their win, over a team that was just about as evenly matched with the Cubs as any they've faced this year, and that includes the fact that the Angels have been just about as decimated with injuries as the Cubs have.

After Brian & Kristy's wedding Saturday night I was pretty tired so I spent the first half of Sunday afternoon taking a nap.

Yeah, I know, what an exciting life I lead.

Then I kept waiting for the game to end so I could -- hold your excitement here -- go out and put gas in the car.

I guess maybe I can take some credit here. It was nearly 8:00 and I figured I had to go to sleep again to get up for work, so I went out and put the game on the radio in the car. Naturally, that's when the winning run scored. Had I known this, I'd have gone out two hours earlier. During the short time I had the radio on in the car, Dave Otto actually made a cogent remark, something which had eluded him during his two years doing TV color commentary while Steve Stone was away.

He noted that the longer a game like this goes, the larger the psychological factor of winning such a game is. And I agree with him, even though the last two times the Cubs won a game this long (May 15, 2003, 17 innings in Milwaukee, and April 9, 2004, 15 innings in Atlanta), they promptly lost the next day, and in 2003, began one of their worst stretches of the season (losing 11 of their next 19). This year, after losing the next day in Atlanta, they won the following day, lost the day after that (the home opener), then won nine of the next eleven.

I still believe that a game won in this fashion, gives the team a lift that cannot be immediately measured statistically. Today, Mark Prior faces Roger Clemens in Houston, in a game ESPN has tagged for national broadcast, and it has to be better facing this coming off a win, than off a loss.

More heroes from yesterday: Derrek Lee had the best offensive day of his season, going 5-for-5 with two walks, a homer and a stolen base, again showing that perhaps he has read the calendar, since June has historically been his best month. Corey Patterson had three hits and scored the winning run. Leicester, in only his second major league appearance, got the win and threw three very effective innings. In fact, apart from Kyle Farnsworth and LaTroy Hawkins, both of whom wound up with blown saves, the entire pitching staff, from Matt Clement (who lowered his ERA to 3.15) to Francis Beltran (showing no ill effects from being hit in his pitching hand) to Jimmy Anderson (for whom I have no parenthetical comment), threw well.

Anti-heroes: Jose Macias struck out and looked really bad doing it after running the count to 2-0 in the ninth. Macias was 0-for-7 and now has batted 95 times this year without drawing a single walk. Macias has never walked much in his career (82 times in 1275 at-bats), but this is a bit extreme. I do not know what the record is for most times batted in a season without walking, but former Atletic, Brewer and Angel Rob Picciolo must be Macias' hero -- he walked only 25 times in 1628 career at-bats and did have a season, 1984, when he walked zero times in 119 at-bats.

Why Dusty Baker thinks a guy like this is a good player to have on your team, I have no idea. One of the reasons the Cubs won yesterday was the seven walks they drew.

Stat corner: The win kept the Cubs 2.5 games behind the Cardinals; in fact, the top 12 teams in the National League are all within 5.5 games of each other, which means the league hasn't sorted itself out yet. In a real anomaly, the Cardinals'win at Texas yesterday gave them a 23-12 road record, with only a 13-15 home record. They are the only major league team with an overall winning record, to have a losing record at home.

There are one hundred games left. I believe this team could win sixty of them, which would give them 93 wins, and that ought to be enough to win the competitive NL Central.

So, this week, while the Cubs are playing the only NL series of the week, St. Louis comes home to play Oakland, who the Cubs will also face at home next weekend. The A's are 18-0 against the NL Central in interleague play. Let us hope that streak continues for three more days, and only three more days.