MESA, Arizona -- Sam Fuld drove in a run, singled and scored another run and made a couple of nice catches in the outfield Thursday in the Cubs' 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Padres, snapping a three-game losing streak and no doubt making both Lou Piniella and bench coach Alan Trammell (who is, according to this BCB diary, not happy with the Cubs' effort so far this spring), happy men this evening.
Actually, Fuld was only one of a number of Cub heroes today, but I've been dying to use that headline, so there it is.
It was nice to get back to the ballpark and see live baseball after five months -- the last time I was at a game was, well, you know, that last NLDS game vs. the Diamondbacks, which we shall not discuss further.
I ran into BCB readers BigJohnAZ, ballhawk and jb, who gave me a donation for the fundraiser tonight. Between the money raised from the shirt sale, my own pledge, some pledges I received Paypaled to me, and the check I received today, I will present on behalf of all of us to Project 3000, $1450 this evening. Thank you all again for your generosity.
Before my thoughts on today's game, I also ran into Dave, my longtime friend from the bleachers, who has been out here all month. He said the Cubs have looked about as good as their record and have to start getting their act together. This is pretty obvious to all of us, but he also delivered the line of the day. When He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named (the human air raid siren, you know, the guy who makes weird noises in the bleachers) walked by, doing his thing, Dave said: "That's what happened to Felix Pie after his surgery."
Cracked us all up.
The sellout crowd of 12,809 saw the following today:
- Jason Marquis looked pretty good. He threw strikes, had seven ground-ball outs of his twelve outs (four innings; when is Lou going to start letting his starters go five? This is the fourth time around already!), and gave up only one extra-base hit, a double down the line by Chip Ambres. Rumor heard: scouts were watching Marquis today, and NOT scouts for the Red Sox.
- Sean Marshall gave up two runs (only one earned, because Ryan Theriot fumbled a ball which could have been the last out of the seventh), but both had ominous signs. The first was a HR by Marshall McDougall, who was probably playing only because half of the Padres are in China -- the ball wound up in a scrum on the lawn, grabbed by a guy in a Jonathan Papelbon T-shirt, who refused to throw it back (good for him, I say). The second scored after Marshall got the first two outs easily in the 7th, then walked McDougall. I hate those two-out-no-one-on walks; they always seem to lead to bad things. Marshall likely is headed to Iowa to head up their rotation. If you think about it, Marshall made the major leagues with SO little experience -- he had thrown only 10 games above High-A before 2006 -- that if he'd followed a normal progression, this year would have been the year he might have cracked the major league roster for the first time; instead, he's got 43 major league starts already. If he does go to Iowa, the Cubs will have a major-league-ready starter as backup in case someone goes down.
- Saw Kosuke Fukudome in person for the first time. Though he went only 1-for-4 (and scored the first run), he had good at-bats and ran down a ball in RF that many previous Cub right fielders would have waved at as it went by. He'll be just fine.
- Carlos Marmol couldn't find the strike zone today; he walked two Padres and finally got out of a bases-loaded ninth inning with a ground ball. Dave and I agreed that he should NOT be the closer. We were a bit surprised to not see Kerry Wood today; we figured since the Cubs had home games today and tomorrow, this would be a perfect time to see him throw two games in a row. Instead, if Lou wants to do that, Wood will have to make the trip to Tucson on Saturday. Incidentally, had the game gone into extra innings, Sean Gallagher was warming up.
- Derrek Lee had another bad day, hitting into two double plays. I'm still not worried -- yet.
- Cubs pinch-hitters did a good job today, in the decisive 9th inning -- Daryle Ward drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases, and then Alex Cintron drove in the winning run with a little flare into right field. Cintron has likely won the backup-infielder job -- and just to wrap this back up to the beginning, I think Sam Fuld is going to be the 25th man on the roster, simply because the Cubs don't have a whole lot of other options for that slot. Presuming they carry 12 pitchers, that leaves five position player slots. They are likely to be: backup catcher Henry Blanco; Cintron; Matt Murton; Fuld; and Ward.