Well, maybe it was.
Matt Murton sent a home run way out onto Waveland Avenue, his fifth in 99 at-bats (project that out to a 500-AB season, and you might have a 20-25 homer guy); as usual, the measuring system (which, I learned a few years ago, is run by Gary Pressy, Cubs organist) shorted it probably by 40 feet at 410 -- it was at least a 450-foot shot, and needed no help from the wind.
That blow was the game-winner off Anthony Reyes as the Cubs beat the Cardinals 7-4 today, their tenth win in the sixteen meetings between the two clubs in 2005.
The last time the Cubs won ten or more games from the Cardinals was in 1992, when they went 11-7 against our rivals from Missouri.
We don't have much this lost season, but at least we beat the club that's likely to wind up with the best record in baseball this year pretty soundly all season.
Chris Carpenter hadn't lost since June 8 and he still hasn't; the Cubs hit him pretty hard even making outs in the first inning and in the second, they got to him with a Corey Patterson double (!) and a Henry Blanco two-RBI single (!!); the four runs scored in that inning were one more than they had scored off Carpenter in the entire twenty-eight innings he'd faced them this season prior to that (including the first inning today).
So, after the Cardinals had tied the game on a couple of unearned runs off Carlos Zambrano in the fifth, it was up to Reyes (who provoked many humorous comments from our section with his high, old-fashioned, horizontal-striped Cardinal red socks) to give the lead back with the homer to Murton. Todd Walker also homered, although that ball didn't go nearly as far as Murton's, landing in the first row below us.
And, Derrek Lee raised his league-leading average to .341 with his forty-seventh double (and ninety-fifth extra-base hit, and yes, I'm keeping track of his quest for 100 XBH, a real milestone).
Today, I brought Mark (he got yet another ball during batting practice, this one flung up to him by Jerome Williams -- the kid has a knack of getting baseballs, one every game, it seems), and Howard brought his daughter Nora. Nora likes baseball, but today, she busied herself reading a book called "A House Called Awful End", which, when I saw the title, I said immediately reminded me of what had been going on at the Cubs' "house" most of the summer.
Not today, though -- Z was terrific today, with a fairly low pitch count until he ran into a bit of trouble in the ninth. Dusty Baker came out to talk to him after he gave up two hits, but Z must have said something pretty powerful, because Dusty left him in to get the last two outs, easy ground balls, the last one by Einar Diaz, the Cardinals' backup catcher. Z also had two hits, a single and a double in his first two at-bats, getting the thoughts of "cycle" going in our heads -- and that's not ridiculous, because Z has two triples and a home run this season.
That was all he got, but the hits raised his average to .303 and his SLG to .474 and his OPS to .777 -- those are pretty good numbers for anyone, much less a pitcher.
The Cardinals changed their lineup between the time it was announced and the time they batted in the first inning; Jim Edmonds was announced in CF, but So Taguchi (Sign seen: "He's SOOOOOOOO Taguchi!") started, as did John Mabry for the announced Larry Walker in LF. Mike Terson didn't make any acknowledgement of these changes other than to announce the batters as they came up to bat; and he seemed flummoxed by some of the double-switches that Tony LaRussa made later in the game. I hope the Cubs are going to find someone else to be the PA announcer on weekends next year, or bring back Paul Friedman full-time. I can't think of another team that has three different PA announcers, one of whom really can't handle the job very well.
Speaking of Cub PA announcers, Wayne Messmer did double duty today -- singing the national anthem at the Bears game at Soldier Field, then coming up to Wrigley Field to do one of the lovely duet anthems he does with his wife Kathleen.
There isn't a whole lot more to say about this winding-down season, which now has twelve games remaining. The Cubs must go 8-4 for a winning season, which is certainly possible; nine of the twelve games are against the Pirates and Astros, against whom the Cubs are 16-7 so far this season. We have that to watch for; Lee's quests for various titles and achievements, and the club WILL give Greg Maddux an extra chance to get to fifteen wins, as Dusty announced that Greg will start every fifth day, rather than every fifth game, with Jerome Williams apparently the odd man out (after he starts on Tuesday) and everyone else getting extra days of rest. Maddux will now start next Thursday in Milwaukee; the last home night game of the year Tuesday the 27th; and the final game of the season in Houston on Oct. 2, which could be a very meaningful game for the Astros.
This could be viewed as selfish, except that Maddux didn't ask for the chance; Dusty Baker and Larry Rothschild decided to give it to him out of respect for all that Maddux has done in his career, and from that standpoint, I agree with it. Why not? Greg's a competitor, and I know he loves to get the ball. Here's hoping he wins all three of those starts.
Finally, my friends Helen & Rob from California, who you may remember hung out with us in Mesa at spring training, were in town for a few games this week. We weren't able to hook up, but I wanted to share with you what Rob calls "My Big Fat Wrigley Field Adventure, Day 1: Reds vs Cubs", and also Rob's Big Fat Wrigley Adventure, Part 2: Cards vs. Cubs.
They also took this shot of me; (sunglasses on cap, in shorts, holding my scorecard) that ought to give those of you who haven't been in the bleachers for a while an idea of where our little perch is.