Well he went down to dinner in his Sunday best
Excitable boy, they all said
And he rubbed the pot roast all over his chest
Excitable boy, they all said
Well he's just an excitable boy...
-- Warren Zevon
Those of us who have followed Carlos Zambrano's career from day one know that he's very, very excitable. Last night there were times when I thought his head was going to blow right off his shoulders when he didn't get a couple of close ball/strike calls, as plate umpire Jim Wolf's strike zone did seem a little strange last night. To Wolf's credit, it was at least consistent for both teams. He also had a very slow strike call -- don't you hate that? I know the players do -- in the fourth inning Derrek Lee started to walk to first base on a 3-2 count on a pitch that looked like ball four, only to be called out on strikes. (Speaking of umpires, umpire Kerwin Danley was injured when hit by a Brad Penny pitch in the Dodgers/Rockies game in Los Angeles last night. He was taken to a local hospital and let's hope he's OK.)
The called K was just about the only thing D-Lee did wrong in last night's 7-0 Cub shutout of the Nationals, their first shutout of the season. Lee singled, doubled, walked twice, scored twice and drove in three runs, as Z pitched his best game of the year, allowing only four singles and a double, lowering his ERA to 2.21. He did issue four walks -- nearly doubling his previous total for the entire season of five -- but was never really in trouble, and the Cubs breezed through this game, scoring three times in the first inning on a Lee RBI single and, after Kosuke Fukudome had walked to load the bases, Mark DeRosa singled for two runs. Five of the first six Cubs reached base. It was the Cubs' 16th win in April, tying the club record for wins in April, set in... 1969.
Fukudome was about the only Cub who didn't contribute much last night -- too bad, because he was celebrating his 31st birthday. Geovany Soto also had a tough night at the plate, going 0-for-5 and striking out all five times. BCB reader bluekoolaide's FanPost asks "What's wrong with Soto?" but I don't think anything's wrong other than he's having a rough patch, which can happen to anyone. He'll likely get today off, which would be expected anyway (day game after a night game) and thus can rest till Tuesday night when the Cubs come home to face the Brewers. Incidentally, the Yahoo AP recap of the game says:
Cubs C Geovany Soto struck out five times, each time against a different Washington pitcher.
That's a pretty good trick, considering the Nats used only four pitchers last night.
Other good things last night: Michael Wuertz, who has struggled, threw a scoreless inning, issuing a leadoff walk but then inducing a double-play ball; Jon Lieber threw an efficient ninth (14 pitches, making him probably available today again if needed), and ONEDEC had three more hits. When Alfonso Soriano comes off the DL and DeRosa returns to 2B, Lou will have a choice to make between ONEDEC and Ryan Theriot at SS. The logical thing would be to play ONEDEC, but Theriot has also hit. I don't want to start the Theriot firestorm again, but Lou likes playing the hot hand. There will be some choices to be made, and isn't that a nice problem to have? It's clear that Ronny Cedeno has, perhaps at last, figured out what he needs to do to be a solid regular major league player. He's earned playing time.
Once again, I commend all of you to BCB reader 08cubs' FanPost; he was at the game and has an excellent recap including photos.
Note about the Nationals: I have seen plenty of big men on a baseball field. But there is no way around this: Nats catcher Johnny Estrada is FAT. I know that's not a politically correct way of saying it... but geez, how does that guy crouch 100+ times a game? No wonder the Brewers dumped him. In 15 games he's 7-for-32, but has failed to score a run. Do you think he could go through an entire season scoreless?
So, Ted Lilly will take the mound this afternoon, trying to build on the good outing he had last Tuesday at Wrigley Field; win this game and you've had another successful road trip.
Finally, for those of you who have been so outraged about more advertising at Wrigley Field or the proposals for possible sale of the naming rights to the ballpark, during last night's game there was advertising that was genuinely annoying: during one of Fukudome's at-bats (and maybe elsewhere, too; that's the only one I actually saw) an ad for a movie opening on May 9 flashed across the CSN screen, then vanished. Unlike advertising at the ballpark, or naming rights, which can easily be ignored and don't interrupt the action, this ad DID get in the way. (And was pretty ineffective, as I can't even remember the name of the movie.) I know CSN wants to squeeze every ad dollar they can out of these telecasts, but that one was pretty ridiculous.
I'll have a game thread up later this morning. Keep the winning going.