TEMPE, Arizona -- I am in the middle of a BCB Fantasy League draft as I write this post, so if it seems a bit disjointed or incomplete, that's why. I'm switching back and forth between this page and the draft screen so I can keep up.
And since my team is going to be called "Marquis Experience", yes, I'm going to draft him. Hopefully, none of the other people in the league are reading this before I take him!
And that's the reason for the title of this post -- the Cubs beat the Angels 8-7 this afternoon, and had they lost, it wouldn't have been Marquis' fault, even though his pitching line -- seven hits and four earned runs in 4.1 IP -- doesn't look very good.
The last run, at the very least, wasn't his fault; Alfonso Soriano lost another fly ball in the sun that was easily catchable, a popup off the bat of Maicer Izturis that went for a gift double (it had to be ruled a hit because no fielder touched the ball), and Gary Matthews Jr. then singled him in. After Marquis struck out Orlando Cabrera, he waslked Vladimir Guerrero and at that point Lou Piniella had seen enough; he brought in Neal Cotts, who got Garret Anderson to line into a double play to end the inning.
And the rest of Marquis' performance wasn't awful either. Yes, he gave up two home runs -- but a lot of pitchers have given up home runs to Anderson and Guerrero. Those were pitches he'd surely have rather had down in the zone; they got up, and were hit out. Of Marquis' thirteen outs, eight were recorded on ground balls and two others were strikeouts, so for the most part, I think his sinker was working pretty well. Marquis will throw again Saturday in Las Vegas, and then be, I believe, ready for his first start of the regular season in Cincinnati.
Today, Jessica had extra tickets, so dfrancon and I sat four rows behind the Cubs dugout -- a terrific seat. For me, that's a very different angle to view the game, and what I noticed today is that you could hear the sounds of the game up close -- balls slapping into infielders' gloves as they fielded ground balls; I even heard Angel Pagan (who came into the game in the 8th inning for Soriano) yell, "I got it!" as he called off the other outfielders to catch a ball off the bat of Robb Quinlan. dfrancon took a ton of photos and I'm sure will post some of them.
The Cubs' offense, which had been stymied the two other times I saw them play the Angels (on March 18 by John Lackey, and yesterday by Ervin Santana), broke through in the third inning against Angels prospect, lefty Joe Saunders, who seems to be the prototype soft-tossing lefty sinkerballer in what Bill James would have called the "Tommy John-Larry Gura" mold. Saunders threw six full innings and in between giving up eight hits to the Cubs, did record twelve outs on ground balls.
While I was standing behind home plate waiting to say hi to jessica and jazzman56 (who didn't arrive till later), I saw one of the Diablos (who run the ballpark for the Angels) holding on to some printed lineup lists, so I asked him for one. On it were the names of the six Angels who had been brought over from their minor league camp (three of whom got into the game), and if nothing else, the Angels have some of the most creatively-named players in their system: Marcus Gwyn (one "n", who wound up being the losing pitcher), Darren O'Day, Warner Madrigal (no singers with him that I could see), Larry Infante, Hainley Statia, and the only ordinary name among the bunch, Miguel Gonzalez.
Other good things that happened today: Aramis Ramirez had three hits, and came out in the eighth inning with his pants rolled up to his knees, showing off his socks -- that's a look we haven't seen from Ramirez before. It made him look taller. Neal Cotts gave up three runs, but only one was earned after a tough error on Ryan Theriot, and all the runs scored after Cotts had been removed from the game in favor of Rocky Cherry.
Both Bob Howry and Scott Eyre threw 1-2-3 innings today in relief, good tuneups for the season with a one-run lead in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively.
After the game Lou Piniella was spotted having a rather animated discussion with members of the Chicago media contingent, including Bruce Miles, Paul Sullivan and Carrie Muskat (he was using his hands quite a bit, gesturing around. I was a bit too far away to hear or read lips).
The BCB fantasy league draft is just about over and so is this post. Yes, I did take Jason Marquis with my last pick. Till tomorrow.