So I'm screaming at the TV -- OK, not screaming, because it's late and I should be sleeping because it's late and I have to get up at 3:30 am for work on Sunday, and it was more like beseeching -- "Put Bay on! Put Bay on!"
Well, the Cubs didn't put Jason Bay on base in the 14th inning, even though the winning run was already on third base and Bay had already homered last night and he's been a Cub-killer ever since the very first game he played against the Cubs on September 19, 2003 (which was also the only time I've been in PNC Park), and he smacked a ball way over everyone's head which normally would have been a double, but instead became a game-winning RBI single and the Pirates beat the Cubs in 14 innings, 5-4.
(Before I go any further, thanks to BCB reader CubbyBlues for posting the extra innings thread.)
The game was lost, really, far before the 14th inning, and you can name any number of turning points:
- Jason Marquis' "one bad pitch", thrown to Bay in the fourth inning, hit for a two-run HR, to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead at the time (credit where credit is due: other than that, I thought Marquis threw pretty well last night);
- That "lefty power bat", Micah Hoffpauir, striking out with one out, the tying runs having already scored in the 8th, and the lead run on base;
- Alfonso Soriano getting picked off second base after leading off the 9th with a double;
- Kerry Wood, for the third time this year, hitting the first batter he faced (Doug Mientkiewicz), and for the third time after doing this, the Cubs lost. STOP DOING THIS!
- Jim Edmonds' lazy fly ball ball leading off the 11th, batting for Wood. Two or three years ago, Edmonds would have hit that pitch over Nate McLouth's head, or maybe even into the seats. Hey, Jim and Lou: Edmonds is done. D-O-N-E done. Move on, please.
- What was Lou thinking, double-switching Derrek Lee out of the game? Yes, Henry Blanco has played first base before. But Blanco couldn't handle Ryan Theriot's low throw on Freddy Sanchez' grounder leading off the 14th, and that wound up being the winning, unearned run. (D-Lee would have made that play, and it wound up being an error on Theriot.)
I'm beginning to wonder about Lou. Did you see the way he trudged out to the mound twice in the 12th, to relieve Jon Lieber with Scott Eyre, and then after Eyre did his job (a sweet-looking K of Adam LaRoche), again to replace Eyre with Michael Wuertz? Lou looked whipped, tired, like he'd rather have been back in his hotel room ordering room service. And really, he should have been. Perhaps the two biggest gaffes of the ones I listed above were Soriano's and Wood's. You just can't get picked off when you're in scoring position in that situation. That could have easily led to an insurance run, which would have made Wood's HBP less critical. I'll just say it again: KERRY, PLEASE STOP DOING THIS! The AP game recap confirms my feeling about Lou:
Cubs manager Lou Piniella, citing fatigue, declined to talk to reporters after the game.
This Cub team has shown remarkable resilience, and they have often come back from tough losses to win the next day. Do that today and they'll have a .500 road trip, which is about all I hoped for and wanted when this one began.
Finally, there was one moment in last night's game -- and this would have been the lead had the Cubs won -- that really shows how players react in much the same way that we do when we're watching. Did you see this? After Carlos Marmol struggled with his control with the first batter he faced, Bay, he threw a slider with his first pitch to LaRoche. There was a moment -- just a moment -- when he turned around and the CF camera caught his body language saying, "I've got it now!" He knew he had figured it out. I sat there thinking, "LaRoche has no chance." And he didn't -- Marmol threw the identical pitch for strike two, and then, with LaRoche apparently standing there sitting on another slider, Marmol blew him away with a 95 MPH fastball, and then for good measure struck out Jason Michaels with a nasty curve.
In this season where all things seem possible, there have been more moments like that than moments like that bad 14th inning. Keep the faith. More good things to come. A game thread will be up in a couple of hours.