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Freaky Wednesday

Last night was another night of having to miss part of the game, this time for yet another very good reason, a parent open house at Mark's school -- you know, meet the teachers, etc.

So it shouldn't have surprised me when, just after I got to the car, Corey Patterson singled and promptly got picked off. Again.

Then I got into the house and turned on the TV and thought, "Hmmm. That doesn't sound like Len Kasper calling the game."

It wasn't. Today's game was scheduled as a CSN Plus game, as the White Sox had the primary game on CSN. For those of you not in metropolitan Chicago (or even for some of you that are, depending on your cable system), many of us get CSN Plus games on CLTV, Tribune Company's local cable news channel.

I listened for a while and thought, "Well, Len's sick or had to be somewhere else." Then I looked at the scorebox and it said FSN North, which is the Brewers' cable channel.

The announcers are Daron Sutton, son of Hall of Fame pitcher and TBS broadcaster Don Sutton, and color commentator Bill Schroeder, a former Brewers catcher who had one huge half-season in 1987 (a year where power numbers were anomalously high) where he hit 14 homers with a .927 OPS in 250 AB.

Actually, they're not bad. It is, of course, weird to hear the announcers on what's supposed to be your home channel rooting -- and rooting hard, incidentally, if you didn't watch it -- for the other team. Sutton, I'd say, is one of the best up-and-coming young announcers in the game today. I don't know how old he is, precisely, but he can't be much older than early 30's, as his dad just turned sixty this year.

All of this was apparently due to some satellite and technical glitches at Comcast Sports Net, which also lost their local feed of the White Sox game for over an hour.

Neither team's fans missed anything good -- the Sox got annihilated by the Indians, and the Cubs lost to the Brewers 7-6, even after a stirring 9th-inning comeback off Brewers closer Derrick Turnbow, who had converted twelve consecutive save tries and had blown only three prior save chances all season (for comparison's sake, LaTroy Hawkins had blown four of them by the time Ryan Dempster was named closer in early May).

I actually missed the 9th-inning comeback, as I had fallen asleep temporarily with the Cubs trailing 6-4, and figuring they would lose. I woke up in time to see Jeff Cirillo drive in the winning Brewers run; the bullpen failed last night, walking four (including Jermaine Van Buren's leadoff walk in the 9th, which turned into the eventual winning run -- Van Buren has a great arm, but needs to learn control at the major league level; he's walked eight batters in his 5.1 major league innings) and allowing four runs.

One of those runs scored on a perfectly executed squeeze bunt with Sergio Mitre on the mound, Damian Miller, not the world's fastest baserunner, scored on the bunt by Brewer SS J. J. Hardy.

A couple of things about Mitre and Hardy. I've said it before in this space -- I do not see how Sergio Mitre fits into the major leagues. He had two great starts in June, and should have immediately been traded. He doesn't appear to have the stamina to be a starter, nor does he seem to have a clue for the situational pitching required to be a reliever. Nor does he have overwhelming speed or control. Maybe I'm missing something here, but I don't think so.

Mark these words -- J. J. Hardy is going to be a force in the National League, maybe as soon as next year. He had a terrific spring training and really impressed me when I saw him there, but got off to a horrible start and then got hurt. Since his return after the All-Star break, he is hitting .301/.361/.490 for an .851 OPS in about 150 at-bats. He just turned 23 last month. Keep an eye on this kid. With Rickie Weeks, he will form one of the NL's premier DP combinations for the next decade.

Enough pumping up the Brewers. Frankly, though, last night's game wouldn't even have gotten to the last of the 9th if not for Mark Prior; not for his pitching, but for his bat -- he had two RBI singles, keeping the game close even while he himself was walking four and allowing three runs in a 120-pitch marathon. This is something that he and Carlos Zambrano both must work on over the off-season -- keeping their pitch counts down. I realize that strikeout pitchers like Z and Prior are going to have higher pitch counts than someone like Greg Maddux; that's just the nature of the beast.

But 120 pitches in six innings isn't going to win too many games.

Neither is a pitching staff that walks eight batters. I've hammered on this before, too, but you'd think that Dusty Baker would realize, eventually, that when HIS pitching staff gives up so many walks, it results in runs for the other team, and say, maybe it could work the same way for the Cubs?

Makes sense to me, anyway.

Finally, tucked away in Mike Kiley's notes column today is this interesting little nugget:

Baker said he has pondered whether Murton might be a leadoff candidate next season, but he will wait to see how the Cubs reshape.
That is indeed something to ponder. Sure, Murton may develop 20-homer power, but he already has the plate discipline to be a leadoff hitter, and this would go against the "book" that says you have to be a speed merchant to lead off.

A point to ponder, indeed. I'll have a game thread up in a couple of hours.