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A Long Day's Journey Into Weirdness

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About the 11th inning, Phil turned to me and said: "Hey Al! Do you remember that the parking lot next to the fire station used to be an Indian reservation or something like that?"

I looked at him and said, "Phil, you're hallucinating."

After yet another four-hour-plus, twelve-inning marathon, I think we all felt like we were hallucinating, but today, everyone (well, everyone except the loud, obnoxious Brewer fans who stood behind us for the entire game) went home happy, as the Cubs outlasted the Brewers 6-5, winning the series and evening up their season record at 3-3, which is precisely where they stood last season after six games.

In 2004, the Cubs played ten extra-inning games at Wrigley Field. I looked this up courtesy of Jake, who decided he had to have a media guide today (and I had forgotten to bring mine), and I mentioned to Mike that was more than I had remembered. Now, two of the first three have gone past regulation, and seriously, that's enough for me for a while. I have said in the past that weird things happen every time we play the Brewers, and that usually only had to do with games in Milwaukee. Now the weirdness has migrated ninety miles south. Consider the following:

  • Greg Maddux gave up an unearned run -- as a result of his own fielding error, a terrible throw made on a comebacker that should have been an easy 1-6-3 DP. Maddux just doesn't make errors -- he hasn't made more than two in a season since 1999. He was lucky that the next hitter did hit into a DP, or the inning would have been way worse;
  • Corey Patterson actually working the count in the sixth with two runs already in and the tying run on third, before he got his pitch and beat out an infield hit to tie the game;
  • Glendon Rusch coming to the rescue again with three stellar innings of relief work;
  • Michael Barrett having just about the worst at-bat I've seen a Cub have under Dusty Baker (and that's saying a lot), with the bases loaded in the 10th inning, he swung at two pitches in the dirt, then took two VERY close pitches that were called balls (the strike zone was odd today, inside pitches being called balls, outside corner ones strikes, but at least it was consistent all day for both sides), and then looking at strike three right down the middle of the plate, a driveable pitch that could have won the game.
  • And after Jeromy Burnitz tripled JUST out of the reach of Brady Clark leaping off the CF wall (only the 28th triple of a 13-year career), Ned Yost's strategy bordered on the bizarre. Maybe he just wanted to get the game over with because the Brewers have their daytime home opener tomorrow, but Yost then ordered Derrek Lee intentionally walked, and we all figured he'd do the same with Todd Hollandsworth, because what difference do those runs make? -- and that would have set up the double play.
OK, so he let righty Derrick Turnbow pitch to Holly, instead of Barrett, due up next -- but then he pulled his infield in. This made absolutely no sense, because the only thing you could possibly want in that situation would be a double play. Instead, Holly hit the ball in exactly the right spot, past the pulled-in infield, to end the game happily for all of us, and not a moment too soon, for two reasons for me:

First, as I said in my "disappearing" post of a few hours ago, I was expecting friends at my house -- my closest friend from high school, who now lives in Boston, lost his father a couple of days ago and is in town for the funeral, and he and his wife were arriving at my house. But they said when I got there -- they wouldn't have expected anything BUT my staying till the very end.

This is a good friend for nearly 35 years. So he gets it.

And second, I had debated long and hard about wearing shorts today, and decided to take the chance and do it, because it was fairly pleasant and sunny early, and in the sun it felt warm (the ballpark people announced the game-time temperature as 71 degrees, but the boxscore reported it as 57); but once 5:00 came and the sun disappeared behind the clouds gathering for the next few days of more typical Chicago April weather, it was getting a bit chilly.

So for many reasons, I was happy to see the game end when it did. A win's a win and we'll take it.

Once again, the bullpen did an outstanding job. Todd Wellemeyer was greeted by a Damian Miller homer but otherwise dispatched the Brewers well, and the rest of the pen -- Mike Wuertz (CLOSER! CLOSER! CLOSER!), Mike Remlinger and Rusch, threw six innings of five-hit ball, striking out seven in all.

Today was the first of quite a number of autograph giveaways -- unlike previous years, most of this year's are autographed photos rather than baseballs, and no, I didn't win a Carlos Zambrano autographed photo, though I did get a look at one of the winning ones and it was actually fairly attractive, despite a big ad being plastered right behind Z's butt. Nor did we win any for the group through dumpster-diving for more cards (we got about 20 of them).

Bad news: Todd Walker sprained his left knee in a collision with Carlos Lee at 2B in the top of the 10th, and he may be out for an extended period of time. Jerry Hairston will start in his place, and who knows who the Cubs will call up -- it could be Iowa 2B Richard Lewis, or Ben Grieve to give an extra bat off the bench, or maybe Jim Hendry will scour the waiver wire.

Good news: Mark Prior threw 30 pitches off the mound today and unless there's some major setback, he will start on Tuesday against the Padres. Meanwhile, Ryan Dempster attempts to redeem himself from his horrid first start tomorrow in game one of the San Diego series. Unlike this weekend, the weather's likely to be iffy for all three days -- and since this is San Diego's only trip to Chicago this year, they'll go to long lengths to get the games in.