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A Baseball Proverb

It's not really a proverb, but it ought to be.

Mike says, and I agree:

"If anyone tells you they know everything about baseball, laugh in their face!"

Last night's game should have been a no-brainer for the Cubs; they were facing a pitcher they had beaten several times last year, and badly. He's lefthanded, and the Cubs have been doing well against lefties this year.

Instead, it wound up being that no-brainer for the Astros, as they beat the Cubs 4-1 in a game that, all together now:

wasn't as close as the score indicated.

If I really tried hard this morning, I could rank pretty high on the cliché meter, but I think I'll pass, since there's going to be another post for today's afternoon game in a couple of hours.

Instead, I'll just say that:

Kerry Wood had very little stuff nor command last night, but he cooked his own goose (there! Happy?) by throwing a dribbler by Astros pitcher Wandy Rodriguez past Aramis Ramirez into left field.

With two out in a game that was still scoreless.

That scored the first run and opened the floodgates (I can't help myself!) for two more runs on a Chris Burke triple, and that, as they say, was pretty much that.

So Wood's ERA actually went down from 4.50 to 4.12, as those three runs were all unearned. However, he used a quite inefficient 75 pitches to record eleven outs, and had to be taken down in the fourth inning.

Credit to the bullpen: they then proceeded to throw 4.1 innings of four-hit ball. They (OK, Bob Howry by himself) walked two and struck out five.

That's something I want to delve into a bit more deeply. Three of those K's went to Carlos Marmol, who hasn't allowed a run in either of his appearances, and looks like the real deal. It's hard to believe, given the way he throws and his build, that only three years ago he was a struggling catcher in the lower depths of the Cub farm system.

Marmol consistently was throwing at 96/97 MPH. And he also threw a curveball that got over the plate in a way that Rich Hill only dreams about.

Marmol's been a starter for the last couple of years and it would have seemed to me that the Cubs could have used him there, given the upheaval that's been the starting rotation this year.

Having seen him throw twice now, and seeing that heat and the movement he puts on his pitches, he's got "future closer" written all over him. It's way too early to put a 23-year-old in such a role, of course, with four major league innings (and none in his career thrown above Double-A) under his belt (Stop me before I cliché again!). But he has been impressive so far.

Meantime, the Cubs did nothing except strand runners against Rodriguez, Chad Qualls and Brad Lidge, eight of them all told. Well, except they scored a consolation run against Lidge. Once again, Cub hitters were hacking away, to no good result. Astros pitchers threw 146 pitches, about 16 per inning.

Meanwhile, Cub pitchers threw 164. That doesn't seem like a lot more, except when you realize that's only eight Astro hitting innings, thus 20.5 pitches per inning. Todd Walker did walk twice -- and was stranded twice.

Credit to Jacque Jones for making a spectacular leaping catch on Lance Berkman's drive after the Burke triple, or the Astros might have had a really big inning. In the long run, all that accomplished was raising a bit of hope that the Cubs might come back and win.

An update on Mark's Wrigleyville Eagles -- they lost the championship game 9-5 to a clearly superior team from St. Clement's. Mark pitched two innings, striking out three. He told me after the game that he decided to throw nothing but fastballs -- which worked pretty well, since most of the St. Clement's hitters were swinging and missing. Unfortunately, it was 8-3 by then.

This sort of thing is something we are all too familiar with.

Finally, thank heavens -- in the epic 6/6/06 battle given us providentially by MLB schedulemakers, not only did the Angels beat the Devil Rays yesterday, they smote them, annihilated them, 12-2. The cosmos is safe, for another day at least.