I had to get that line out of the way... and now, we resume your regular Sunday post.
I knew this was going to be a good day before I even got into the ballpark. I decided to stop at Murphy's across the street from the bleacher entrance for a cheeseburger to eat for lunch.
I got carded.
Now, many of you know how old I am from previous posts and I don't think I need repeat it here; suffice to say that I haven't seen a cardable age since the Cub starting rotation included Rick Reuschel and Mike Krukow.
That pretty much made my day.
Then the sun came out, and Jason of the title of this post smacked a three-run homer that clanged off the railing just to our right and back onto the field, and the Cubs hung on for a 4-3 win over the White Sox this afternoon.
I changed pencils. I changed spigots for the Super Big Gulp at the 7-11. I changed the way I drove to the ballpark (had to, as I was dropping off my dad at Mark's ballgame). Yes, I changed my underwear and socks. Don't ask those sorts of questions!
Now, a question for the assembled here.
What do you do? We have all screamed at Dusty Baker for leaving starting pitchers in too long. We have also screamed at him, as we did yesterday, for going to the bullpen only to see yet another miserable failure.
What do you do? Take out Mark Prior after 110 pitches and eight solid innings, punctuated only by two wind-blown homers? Ryan Dempster was warming up and ready to go.
This had to be Prior's call, and despite a frighteningly large pitch count of 126 (84 strikes -- he walked only one), I think it was the right call. After Prior had retired the first nine in order, I thought (to myself, of course -- superstition says you don't say these things out loud in the third inning) that he had no-hitter stuff.
Actually, the first Sox run was Howard's fault, partly. He had written down the first two Cub outs (popup to first, fly to right) in the bottom of the third, in the squares for the White Sox fourth.
So when Scott Podsednik obliged by popping a bunt to Derrek Lee, Howard said, "Now we need a fly to right!"
He got one from Tadahito Iguchi, but it got too far up in the jetstream and landed in the first row of the bleachers in right -- apparently hitting a young woman in the nose, because I saw security leading her out with cloths over her face and blood dripping and the paramedics who are always stationed next to us attending her. She was OK afterwards, as far as we could tell.
The Sox played what's been "Cubbie ball" today -- their only scoring was three solo homers, Iguichi's, one in the sixth by Jermaine Dye that just barely got blown into the juniper bushes in dead center field, and a one-out no-doubt-about-it job from Paul Konerko that I was sure would bring Dusty Baker out of the dugout to get Prior -- but no one budged.
If Dave had been at the game I think he would have approved -- he's a big believer in starters finishing, even in this day of bullpen specialization. We shall see if this affects Prior in his next start Friday against the Rockies -- but at least now, the bullpen has been saved and rested for tomorrow.
Brandon McCarthy, the Sox' 21-year-old rookie making his major league debut, was VERY impressive. Physically he resembles a somewhat thinner Prior, and his pitching motion is similar. He had Cub hitters off-balance, getting four of his five strikeouts looking, and allowing only a solo homer to Henry Blanco while he was in the game (he got charged with a second run after he left, after having hit Derrek Lee). Blanco, for his part, played a nice series, and offensively is attempting to drive in all his runs this year on solo homers. In fact, the last run he drove in in spring training was on a walk-off solo homer in Las Vegas vs. the Mariners.
Michael Barrett will likely start tomorrow against the Astros, and the Cubs could use his bat.
But the offense belonged to Dubois -- and not only was the homer one of the first in a long time not a solo job, it came with two out. The Cubs have had lots of problems driving in runs with two out (twelfth in the NL coming into today with a .242 BA with two out -- and the .314 OBA with two out is fifteenth in the NL), so this was most gratifying to see.
Funny moment: Corey Patterson stepping in to hit against Shingo Takatsu. I can imagine the conversation between Corey and 3B coach Chris Speier:
Chris: "He's throwing in Japanese. Close your eyes and swing!"
Before you get all upset, yes, I'm kidding.
I'm not kidding about this actual exchange heard in the bleachers during BP. As you likely know, when a club -- be it the Cubs or any visitor -- has a chance to sweep a series, fans often bring brooms. Security at Wrigley Field won't allow brooms inside, but apparently one Sox fan managed to smuggle one in and was waggling it in front of Mike Remlinger.
Rem's comment: "Did you bring that from work?"
And the latest theory on why Carlos Zambrano's having elbow trouble: he's spending several hours a day on the computer e-mailing his friends and relatives in Venezuela.
You couldn't make this stuff up.
With that, on to hosting the Astros, who are -- I kid you not -- 2-19 on the road. Astros blogger throwslikeagirl says this year's Astros could be a candidate for "Worst Team Of All Time."
Well then, time to win.