That's how I feel after three consecutive days of very strong downpours hit Wrigley Field, with three different results on the diamond: a win on Saturday, a rainout yesterday, and today's 6-4 loss to the Cardinals, a game I felt bad about the moment Ryan Theriot tried to stretch his leadoff double into a triple and got thrown out by Rick Ankiel. The Yahoo game recap attached to the above boxscore said it was a "perfect" throw, but it wasn't -- it was to the dugout side of third base, but Theriot wasn't even close to making it, so Scott Rolen had plenty of time to swing around and tag him out.
The ball had actually bounced off Ankiel's head, which is why Theriot probably thought he had a chance to make third. Still, down 2-0 in the bottom of the first, why would you want to take yourself out of scoring position?
The Cubs managed to tie the game on solo HR by Daryle Ward and Mark DeRosa, back-to-back in the second, but then coughed the lead back up in the top of the third when Aramis Ramirez couldn't handle Rolen's bouncer with runners on second and third. At the very least, he'd have gotten an out at first even if a run had scored -- instead, a run scored, and then another one on what would otherwise have been an inning-ending groundout to first base.
Derrek Lee also homered today, his 100th as a Cub, and that briefly gave hope as it made the score 5-4 in the last of the sixth. Why Lou had Ted Lilly bat for himself in the bottom of the fifth, almost 100 pitches into a not-so-great performance, I have no idea. Yes, I understand the concept of not wanting to overtax your bullpen, but Lilly had almost nothing today and with the score at the time 5-3, I'd have thought Lou would have wanted to attempt to generate some offense with the top of the order due up. Incidentally, the HR that Albert Pujols hit off Lilly in the top of the fifth was caught on Waveland by Mo Mullins, one of the veteran ballhawks; he then let one of the kids on the street choose the throwback ball that he then let loose over the bleachers. After the game I walked by the chairs that the ballhawks set up on the corner of Waveland & Kenmore and talk to people going by. Sitting behind Ballhawk Dave was a dry-erase board reading:
Cub fans 4, Cardinal fans 5
OK, so we won that one, I guess.
After Lilly finally was pulled -- for Mike Fontenot, who hasn't had a hit in a week -- Carmen Pignatiello came in and had one job, retire Ankiel, the only left-handed hitter he was to face. He failed -- Ankiel hit Pignatiello's first and only pitch into the left-field bleachers, making the score 6-4, as a light rain began to fall. Kerry Wood then entered, and got all three batters he faced -- Pujols, Juan Encarnacion, and Rolen -- to fly out, and then the rain fell harder, and play was halted for 87 minutes.
When it resumed, only about 1/3 of the crowd of 40,141 remained, and I was a bit surprised to see Ryan Franklin, who had thrown the sixth, still in the game. Didn't matter -- the Cubs did nothing with him, and it was clear how badly Tony LaRussa wanted this game, because he had his closer, Jason Isringhausen, in the game in the 8th inning, for a rare (at least these days) two-inning save. Isringhausen has been pretty much lights-out this year (only two blown saves, but one of them was in this April 22 game at Wrigley Field, which the Cardinals wound up winning), and although the Cubs got a couple of runners on base in the 8th, Mark DeRosa hit into an inning-ending DP, and the ninth was 1-2-3, and thus ended the series. The Cubs actually had hit Cardinal starter Joel Piniero pretty hard -- in addition to Theriot's double and the two HR, there were five other balls hit very hard for outs (one of which, a sinking liner by DeRosa in the fourth, was snagged on a nice diving catch by Ankiel). Props also to D-Lee for his slick play on Ankiel's sharp grounder down the line to end the top of the fourth, and to good relief outings by Wood and Michael Wuertz, who at least kept the game close.
It doesn't feel very good, but it's another series win, two games to one, in this series abbreviated by rain -- if I never see another raindrop it won't be soon enough, I think my clothes from last night are still drying out -- and the Cubs can maintain their one-game lead if the Brewers lose tonight in Arizona (see the game thread below for the Milwaukee/Arizona Gameday link).
I learned today that a decision on when to make up yesterday's game may come as soon as tomorrow. What that decision is going to be, I have no idea and wasn't given any inkling by my source. As I noted this morning, I believe the best way to make up the game is to hold it to the end of the season and play it Monday, Oct. 1 at Wrigley Field, only if necessary to determine a playoff spot.
Let's hope the game won't be necessary, for the right reasons. Onward and westward, and let's start winning again.