Taking Advantage .. and Karma (DC Game 1)

With the blowout of a 7-2 Cubs victory well underway before most of the crowd even got to their seats, I was dubious that there would be anything diary-worthy from tonights game.  I wasn't able to make it out to Wrigley for the Brewers series this weekend, so my big question for the night - whether the Cubs steady turnaround was temporary or something more real - seemed to be answered fairly quickly.  The Cubs were putting in a workmanlike performance of taking advantage of Jason Simontacchi's weakness and getting some actual well-timed hits, accompanied on defense by the easy half of a Ted Lilly no-hit bid.

As I thought about it, though, many more positives went into that lead than were readily apparent.  Goodness knows how many past Cubs teams (including the one that showed up and got swept at RFK last year) wouldn't have gotten the timely hits or taken advantage of a weak team like the Nationals.  And timely the Cubs were tonight, most notably Aramis Ramirez and Mark DeRosa who - as many pointed out in the game thread - seem to be starting to hit their stride at last.

As Lilly continued to steam ahead, I did the math quickly on his pitch count and figured he was never going to make it even if he could keep up the no-hitter.  I hadn't realized just how much labor it was taking to get the light-hitting Nats (who had exploded yesterday for three runs) out, and when I looked at the clock - well, I was wondering why I hadn't had the good fortune to watch Steve Trachsel pitch instead.  Frankly, Lilly seemed pretty lucky tonight, because with a better hitting opponent and a couple more missed opportunities at the plate, this game might have been different.

But that's ultimately the point.  There's no other way to say it (certainly at midnight) than the cliche.  A good team takes advantage of those opportunities.  A bad team - well, tough day, dude.  (And Howry's meltdown would have been even worse, but fortunately he gets a pass tonight.)

And speaking of opportunities, the Nats put former Cub Micah Bowie on the DL today (and for some reason they have had good luck in his starts), and Tim Redding will start tomorrow instead.  Redding got horrendously shelled early in the season in the minors.  Even though he seems to have settled down a bit, the odds are excellent - if Z doesn't go mental from the All-Star Vote - that tomorrow won't be much of a contest, either.

Finally, I want to add an Al-like personal experience from tonight that proves yet again how alive karma is at the ballpark.  After the 7th inning stretch every game, the Nats staff throws T-shirts into the crowd behind the dugouts.  I grabbed at one at the same time as a young boy in the row behind me, and wound up with the shirt after it fell on the ground.  I turned around and gave it to the kid, because I already have a couple of them, and my seat there gives me plenty of opportunities for more.

Didn't think much of it as the game went into the late innings.  Several people asked in the game thread how people stick around and watch the Nats lose night-after-night, and my answer (as a full season holder) is that they usually don't.  If the visiting team had been anyone but the Cubs, I would have been long out of there.  Lo and behold, Howry pitches to Dmitri Young, and a foul ball is headed my way.  I got up but didn't drop my scorecard, because it seemed to be back a little bit.  Wrong.  It dropped directly into my seat and stopped dead.  All I had to do was pick it up.

Looks like karma pays you back - and as I hope to make all the games of this week's roadtrip, let's hope it sticks around awhile.

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