Since many of you spent your time in the game thread posting anagrams for various Cub player names (after noting that "Beluga Tits" was a partial anagram for "Miguel Batista" -- and only partial, as "Beluga Tits" has 10 letters and "Miguel Batista" has 13), I thought I'd tell you what Howard, Mike and I all thought (and said out loud, too) in the third inning of tonight's 3-2 Cub win over the Mariners (Hooray! Another one-run win! Now 5-13 in one-run games!):
This, referring to the throw Raul Ibanez apparently intended to go toward third base when Felix Pie was trying to advance there on a Derrek Lee single; instead, the throw bounced off the Cub dugout railing, making Pie safe, Lee advancing to second, and Pie scored on Cliff Floyd's well-placed groundout to second base.
All of which provided the Cubs' first run of the evening, a nice sequence of events (and a big sigh of relief to even see Pie out there, because in the first inning, he lay on the infield dirt apparently clutching his leg in pain after stealing second base -- at first, we thought it might be a season-ending groin injury, but Pie walked it off and was fine the rest of the night).
Sean Marshall had given the Mariners a 1-0 lead the inning earlier when he served up a HR ball to the then .196 hitting Richie Sexson, but that was really the only big mistake he made all night. This also led to another joke -- since we were playing HR derby in our section tonight, I picked, as I usually do, Marshall, since a tradition for me is picking that day's starting pitcher. When Marshall ran the count to 3-2 batting in the sixth, I said, "What do I get if he walks?" Answer: "You have to pay us all a dime."
They were joking, but I did find four dimes and pay off after Marshall, who unlike his rotation counterparts Jason Marquis and Carlos Zambrano is a pretty bad hitter, did draw a walk.
He pitched efficiently for 8 innings -- an Ichiro triple (which really should have been ruled a double and an error on Pie, who fumbled the ball around a bit) and a single scored the other Seattle run -- and threw only 94 pitches (65 strikes), walking no one. He struck out only one, but recorded sixteen ground ball outs, including two double plays (I have to say, I'm liking this Fontenot/Theriot DP combination more and more every day) and a play in the first inning in which he applied the tag in a rundown play, catching Ichiro off third base. Marshall has now made five starts, been good in all of them and outstanding in several -- a real find for this starting rotation, if he can keep this up the second time around, when hitters have made adjustments. It will be then up to Marshall to make adjustments of his own; if he does so, he can be, I believe, an outstanding starter at the major league level.
Ryan Dempster, throwing for the fourth day in a row, threw only 11 pitches (8 strikes) in recording his 14th save in 16 chances. So where are you naysayers about Dempster now? The only reason his two blown saves this season make some of you think ill of him, I believe, is because both of them are so spectacular (the one in New York last month and the one in Atlanta last Sunday -- and the one in NY wasn't all his fault, as he left the game still leading 5-3, with Scott Eyre giving up the hits that lost the game). Dempster's been absolutely solid apart from those two games -- take those two games out of his season record and he has, apart from them, 29.1 IP, 15 H, 9 BB, 27 K, and 5 ER allowed for an ERA of 1.53.
Sound better that way? Of course it does. Keep this up and the Cubs will win a lot more of those one-run games (now 5-13). Dempster threw few enough pitches tonight that he could probably go tomorrow (five days in a row) if necessary.
Notes: moved up from the comments of the game thread, the brother of Seattle 2B Jose Lopez was killed in a motorcycle accident in Venezuela:
And, as you no doubt know, Matt Murton has been sent to Iowa and Clay Rapada recalled for bullpen help. I've always liked Murton, but he clearly has no place on this team, and perhaps getting some regular AB's at Iowa will get him some hits, and maybe some interest from another team for a deal. I'm not so sure the Cubs need thirteen pitchers, so I imagine someone else in the pen will head back to Iowa when Aramis Ramirez is eligible to return on June 22.
It has been clear and actually coolish the last three nights -- with temperatures dropping into the 60's once the sun went down. Tomorrow and Friday should be two of those "Chamber of Commerce" sunny days, with temperatures in the low 80's with light winds and low humidity. Onward to winning the series tomorrow.