clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Staccato

That's what today's game felt like -- a sleepwalk punctuated by solo home runs. Five runs were scored, four of them on solo homers, the last by Carlos Beltran, finally doing what the Astros got him for, and they beat the Cubs 3-2, wrecking a chance for the Cubs to pick up a game on the Cardinals, who lost to the Pirates 6-5, getting swept in Pittsburgh for the first time in 12 years. You could have made a lot of money in Vegas betting this week that the Pirates, with the worst home record in baseball, would sweep the Cardinals, who came in with the best road record.

Today, Brian (I'll call him Other Brian since our regular Brian finally did show up today) brought his family out to the bleachers. His son Aaron insisted, since the last time he was there he won some money playing Home Run Derby, on playing it again.

So guess who picked Craig Biggio? Of course, Aaron's mother Elise, who wound up taking dollars from Jeff, Howard and me. Biggio hit two of the solo shots today.

And I am blaming Other Brian and his family for this loss, because after they stayed through the very tense 8th inning where the Cubs tied the game, they left. And then they called and wanted the $ from Beltran's homer in the 9th! Hmmm. Well, usually you must be present to win. Jeff even told them that they were out of the game when they left, so I'll have to mull this over.

In between all the homers were several sleep-inducing innings; the teams combined for a stultifying 13 walks. There were a number of good defensive plays, including a nice stab of a liner off Roger Clemens' bat by Matt Clement, and a sliding catch by Corey Patterson, who had one of the best at-bats of his career, an eleven-pitch masterpiece off Brad Lidge, after which he walked (his second of the day!). Ramon Martinez followed with a nine-pitch at-bat, but he looked at a hittable strike three, and that was it for the Cubs. Even though Lidge threw 35 pitches in his two innings of work, all the air was let out of the Cubs' balloon after Beltran's homer. Up till then, the crowd was nearly up to playoff intensity in the bottom of the 8th, when the Cubs loaded the bases with two out after Michael Barrett's solo homer tied the game leading off that inning.

Matt Clement helped put all of us to sleep early with a 104-pitch outing in which he couldn't even finish the fifth, but Michael Wuertz managed to get him out of it and Clement's ERA even went down today, from 2.98 to 2.93. Roger Clemens sailed along pretty well and was in line for his 11th win of the year until Barrett's homer.

There was a weird argument after Derrek Lee was thrown out at 3B on an attempted sacrifice in the 5th by Ramon Martinez. Lee looked out and was called out. But then we heard the groans from the terrace fans looking at the replay on the monitors beneath the upper deck. Gary Matthews must have heard this because he spent much of the next inning jawing at plate umpire Jim Joyce and was ejected.

Mike told me yesterday in anticipation of Joyce being the plate umpire today, that his strike zone as an umpire was much like the author Jim (OK, for you sticklers, JAMES) Joyce -- in Mike's words, "all over the place for no particular reason." He was right. The zone seemed low at first, then high, then in the crucial 8th inning the called third strike on Martinez was right down the middle. The pitchers deserved better, and that's probably the main reason the game slogged on for three hours and thirty-two minutes -- the goofy strike zone was probably mainly responsible for the thirteen walks.

There's no word on the status of Todd Hollandsworth, but he clearly wasn't available today, because there were a couple of situations that cried out for him as a pinch-hitter. Dusty did a double-switch after the Martinez strikeout, putting Rey Ordonez in the game, which led Howard and me to agree that we were automatically giving up an out in the 9th. As it turned out, once the Astros took the lead, Dusty pinch-hit for him with Mark Grudzielanek, setting up a situation where Grudz would have had to play SS if the game had gone into extra innings. This is intolerable -- as I've said before, there have to be ten players in the independent minor leagues who can hit better (and at this stage of his career, field better than Ordonez), and the Cubs ought to call up Ricky Gutierrez, sooner than later, because Ordonez is simply a waste of a roster spot.

It was a depressing day, but I know tomorrow will be better.