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So It Rained. Who Cares?

As the ninth inning started last night, Mike said to me, "I can't WAIT to see this blog entry!"

So I said, "Here it is!"

The Cubs won 13-4. It rained some. That's it! Goodnight!

Well, it was easy to laugh after the Cubs indeed did win easily over the Brewers 13-4, the seventh win in the last ten games, third in a row, and perhaps not coincidentally, six wins in the seven games since Sammy Sosa "agreed" to drop into the fifth spot in the batting order. It led them to the high-water mark of the season, thirteen games over .500, and into sole possession of the wild-card lead, as the Giants gave up seven runs in the first inning and got blown out by the Marlins 9-1, although the Wrigley Field scoreboard's new math had the Marlins scoring seven in the first and three in the fourth for a total of ten. The board also had the Twins and Rangers skipping the fourth and fifth innings entirely, and listed the White Sox/Tigers final score as 9-4 (it was actually 9-5), which made keeping track of out-of-town scores very interesting.

In addition to going a game up on the Giants, the Cubs are two games up on them in the loss column, and I'm going to write this in really small type because it's really too early to think about this, but I'm thinking about it anyway:
Cubs' magic number to clinch wild card: 36
Can you tell I'm happy? Hey, the Cubs even picked up a game on the Cardinals, for whatever that's worth, now only 13 games behind. I suppose cutting the final deficit to less than ten would be a moral victory of sorts.

Speaking of high-water marks, it absolutely poured down rain from about 2:30 till 4:30, and I couldn't decide how to dress. I went out in shorts only to see a time/temp sign that said "60". Thinking this might be a front going through, I went home to change into jeans, only to step back out into humidity. Back on the shorts went, though it was a little coolish, not bad, 70 at game time, and the umbrella and a pullover golf wind shirt in tow. Luckily, despite the heavy rain, I had no water in my basement.

The Tomato Inning was set at the bottom of the sixth -- a two-run inning with the bizarre sequence of HBP, walk, HBP, walk and single, and it landed squarely on the fourth spot in the batting order. You're welcome, Moises Alou, for the career-high day you got, six RBI on two homers and a sac fly.

But that wasn't the only mark that the scorecard got. I had left the card on the bench to make my usual pre-game pilgrimage to the men's room. When I got back I saw it had started to spit a little bit of rain, and Mike hadn't turned it upside down, so I wound up with a couple of water stains on the card. No, those don't have the same effect as the tomato -- they just make the thin card stock curl up. Mike, who is an expert at such things, did his best to help flatten it out, but the later rainfall put much more curve in the card than I'd want.

Badge of honor, that is.

I swear, the Cubs must be reading this blog. Two days after I complained about all the solo homers, the Cubs (for the second time this season), hit a solo (Aramis Ramirez), but also a two-run homer (Alou), a three-run homer (Alou again), and a grand slam (Derrek Lee), though not in sequence, as they did the other time earlier this year against the Reds.

I swear again. Whoever kidnapped Corey Patterson and replaced him with this guy who draws walks, steals bases and smacks extra-base hits all over the Yard, don't let the original out of the dungeon. This is the second half that Patterson appeared on target to have last year when he was injured, and this is exactly the time they need this from a genuine leadoff man. Patterson still strikes out too much to be a great leadoff hitter, but perhaps more discipline will come over time. He struck out only once today, had a single, HBP, two doubles and three runs scored. Since August 1, when he was installed in the leadoff spot, he is 31-for-84, with 15 runs, 6 doubles, 6 homers, 7 walks, 11 steals, and is hitting .369/.424/.655 for an OPS of 1.079 -- nearly Bondsian territory.

The game slogged on, and like Monday's performance by Carlos Zambrano, Matt Clement also had a no-hitter going, though only through four innings. He was probably stunned at the offensive support he was receiving, and showed little command through the first four. He walked three, but getting the Brewers (who have lost 8 in a row and have to go only 12-26 in their remaining games for me to win my bet with John from Phoenix, who bet me that Milwaukee would have a better record than they did last year), to swing at his stuff seemed easy, since he also had five strikeouts through those four. He was lucky, in fact, to get out of the first inning after walking Scott Podsednik to lead off the game. Podsednik went to second on a ground out and then inexplicably tried to steal third, and was thrown out easily.

Then Matt got careless and gave up a couple of two-run homers, but as the score was 10-4 at the time, it really didn't matter, and it started raining off and on, harder into the sixth inning, which was played in a steady moderate rain. Finally, just before the bottom of the 7th was played, the game was held up by a stubborn little rainstorm that seemed to want to place itself right over the north side of Chicago and nowhere else in the entire metropolitan area.

An hour later, when the rain ended and the field was prepared for play, more than 90% of the crowd had gone home, mostly due to the score and the relatively late hour. I'd say there were no more than 2,000 people left in the stands, and even then, Sammy Sosa wouldn't throw a ball up toward us. Actually, I'm kind of glad he doesn't, because of the mad rush to grab those baseballs, there's much piling on and none of us really needs to do that for a $10 baseball. Meanwhile, Howard hung his pink poncho (it really has to be seen to be properly appreciated) on the back fence to dry.

Also after the rain, Dusty emptied the benches, wisely getting Aramis Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra out of there rather than risk further injury to them, and also giving Todd Walker two innings in left field, the first time he has played the outfield at the major league level. He caught a routine fly for the last out of the game. Another oddity, though you do see this from time to time -- Glendon Rusch qualified for a save under the "pitch three innings with any lead" part of the save rule. He did throw three effective innings, allowing three harmless hits and walking no one.

Howard, Mike & I amused each other by smacking each other on the head with the clipboards for some really bad puns. They were so bad, in fact, that I can't remember what a single one of them was.

This club now appears to be clicking the way we thought they would all season. After losing the first three games to Milwaukee, this win clinches the season series (9-7 with one game left). We owe these guys a sweep.