Everyone back in off the ledge?
Good! Nice to see you inside and safe. And warm, too. Brrr. It was cold today -- Jeff entered and announced that he was going to sit in RF today "where it's warmer in the sun". Too bad the sun vanished not long after game time and I can't imagine it was any warmer there than it was in LF.
No matter. The Cubs beat the Brewers 6-3 this afternoon, their first win of 2008. (Note: the Cubs 15th win this year, whenever it occurs, will be the 10,000th win in club history.)
The team clicked on all cylinders today, even after another one of those "here we go again" first innings. Ryan Dempster has always walked too many hitters, and he walked Rickie Weeks to lead off the game. When Tony Gwynn doubled, it was "uh-oh, what next?" What was next was a sacrifice fly, scoring Weeks, but when he bowled over Geovany Soto, Soto couldn't hold on to Kosuke Fukudome's throw and Gwynn also scored, leaving Dome with a tough error.
But that was it. Dempster faced 21 more batters and retired 18 of them, allowing two harmless singles and one more walk. He looked sharp after those first two batters, and threw strikes -- 60 out of 91 pitches. Well done, Mr. Dempster. Do it again next time out. Dempster's only other bad note was his two poor at-bats -- fouling a bunt for strike three on his first attempt, and then trying to bunt through strike three on his next (trying to catch the Brewers by surprise, I think, because I don't think anyone expected him to bunt in that 4th-inning AB). Give the guy a bit of a break for those, as he has had only 14 at-bats in the last two-plus years, since he became the Cubs' closer.
What I quibbled with at the time of that 2nd AB was not asking Felix Pie to try a squeeze, with the bases loaded and nobody out. Bill Hall was playing back at third; they weren't expecting it, and with the score tied, it would have been an easy way to score. Fortunately, Alfonso Soriano drew a bases-loaded walk to give the Cubs the lead, their first lead of the year.
Read that again: Soriano drew a walk with the bases loaded. Excellent at-bat, and he had another RBI in the sixth, flaring a single that landed between Ryan Braun and J. J. Hardy. Incidentally, as bad as Braun was at third base last year defensively, he appears to be just as bad a left fielder. He didn't make any errors today, but he seemed lost even on balls he got to, bobbling a couple and kind of "surrounding" the ball. (He had no chances at all today.) I think the Brewers are going to have to trade him to an AL team in a couple of years, because he appears to be a born DH.
When Carlos Marmol -- and I'm still a bit worried about him, because today he didn't have real good command, just as he didn't have much in spring training -- allowed a run in the 8th, it created a save situation for Kerry Wood, with a three-run lead. Wood loped in from the bullpen to an ovation -- well, it would have been an ovation if anywhere near the 37,973 announced was in the ballpark; it probably was never more than about 20,000 today, and by the 8th, about half of that number had left -- and dispatched the Brewers efficiently, allowing a two-out single to Craig Counsell and then getting Jason Kendall on a called third strike to end the game.
That was Wood's first major league save. Let it be the first of about forty this year.
We were joined today by BCB reader lalocp -- who had given me some email help when my computer had a virus a couple of months ago -- and a friend of his, and also another couple who we just met and who said they'd sit with us again tomorrow. A couple of other BCB readers again stopped by to say hi. Despite the cold -- and we apparently have just missed a large amount of rain which is going to go through overnight -- it's always nice for your team to get that first victory of the season, to not let opening losses grow too far or too fast. Rich Hill faces Chris Sampson tomorrow, as the Astros come to town.Click here for my scorecard from today's game