Fell asleep again, darnitall.
I guess the sight of Neifi! hitting a first-inning home run (now seriously -- if anyone had told you that on June 5, Neifi! would have had more HR, runs and RBI and an OPS 100 points higher than Sammy Sosa, you'd have laughed in their face, right?) put me into a happy sleep.
Well, all that did was made me miss the Cubs' best inning (seven runs, eight hits) of the year. Not all of it -- I crashed with the TV on, and woke up just briefly, saw the score was 11-1, and figured:
THAT ought to be enough! I turned the TV off and went back to sleep.
It was more than enough. The Cubs continued on their merry way, giving the Padres a few consolation runs, but winning big, 11-5.
For a first-hand (and a bit naughty!) report from (Insert Corporate Name Here) Park on Thursday's game, please check out Smooth Jazz Man's diary over at my SportsBLOGS colleague Dex's Gaslamp Ball site.
(Incidentally, if you're wondering where the name of that site comes from, the Gaslamp Quarter of downtown San Diego is near where the new ballpark is located.)
Len and Bob were prescient on the telecast last night. I know this sounds odd -- who'd expect these two to properly prognosticate? -- but in the pregame notes they stated that Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Michael Barrett and Jerry Hairston had all feasted off lefthanders this year (Aramis, in particular, leading the NL in average -- .436 coming in -- off lefties) and with a not-so-great lefty, Darrell May, going for the Padres, it ought to be a good night for hitting.
Man, were they right on. Those four hitters alone went 10-for-19 with four runs scored, six RBI, two doubles and a homer (by Aramis).
EVERYONE hit last night. Greg Maddux chimed in with a RBI single. Even Enrique Wilson got a hit, for heaven's sake.
Everyone, that is, except Corey Patterson. Funny take on this by Ross in the Diaries. Corey walked -- yes, he'll take it, even though it was an intentional pass -- and scored two runs.
Maddux (Quality Start! Quality Start!) gave up three earned runs in six innings, nudging his ERA up a touch to 4.12, but it was good enough for his 309th career win, tying 19th Century star Charley "Old Hoss" Radbourn on the all-time list. Next up: Tom Seaver at 311. Maddux also struck out four, putting him 39 K's away from 3000. When he gets there he'll become only the second pitcher to have 3000 K's with fewer than 1000 walks -- the other, Fergie Jenkins. And Jenkins just barely made it, with 997 BB's. Maddux has over 100 fewer career walks (882) than Fergie did. Until last night, in fact, Maddux hadn't walked a batter in three starts and still has only 12 in 74.1 innings this season.
The starting lineup has been so good lately that the weakness of the bench hasn't even been a factor. Consider that Jose Macias has had only three at-bats (and gone 0-for-3) since the Cubs started their current winning ways on May 27, eight of their last nine.
It got so bad for the Padres that the despicable Robert Fick, who you'll remember was last seen at Wrigley Field in the 2003 NLDS giving a forearm to Eric Karros, was inserted at catcher even though he's only caught three games (for Tampa Bay last year) since 2001. Good. Hope he took a few too many foul tips off his fingers.
The Cubs have also won 13 of their last 17, but haven't been able to pick up any ground on the Cardinals, who gave up nine runs to a bad Astros team yesterday but won anyway, 11-9. St. Louis has put up a gaudy 21-4 record against NL Central teams, mostly the bottom-feeding Pirates, Reds and Astros -- but is only 15-15 outside the division. Last year the Cubs and Cardinals didn't play after July 20. This year they'll play the bulk of their head-to-head games (all but the two they split in April) after July 21. This is still an odd way of doing it, but at least the games will be played when they are the most meaningful.
Onward. For those of you who were willing to give up on this season ten days ago, remember that two-thirds of it remains. Patience. Faith. Hope.