A fair amount of the play in the early innings of last night's 7-5 Cub loss to the Orioles, snapping their home winning streak at 14, resembled the bumbling spy Maxwell Smart (I haven't yet seen the new Get Smart movie, though I think I will -- I was a big fan of the TV series when it originally aired when I was a kid).
Some of the game recaps in the traditional media focused on a certain second baseman, who plays for the Orioles, who was the subject of at least 15,357 rumors on this site alone all winter. Granted, Brian Roberts had a good game last night, singling and tripling (including his 1000th career hit), and scoring two runs.
But the key play in this game was the misplay Eric Patterson made in left field when Luke Scott led off the sixth inning with a short pop fly into left-center. Now, usually that's the left fielder's ball -- any time an outfielder can get into range to catch a ball like that, you'd say he should, because he's got a better angle on it. In this case, Ryan Theriot was waving his right arm frantically, calling everyone else off -- the right thing to do when you've GOT IT!
Patterson bulled ahead anyway, chasing Theriot out of the way, and the ball dropped in between the two of them and Jim Edmonds, who had no shot at it. Scott was originally credited with a double, but later charitable (and correct, I think) scoring changed it to an error, making all three runs allowed by Michael Wuertz unearned (Jeremy Guthrie, the Orioles pitcher, would have made the last out of the inning by striking out).
That really was the game, because it made a 4-1 game into a 7-1 game, and if those runs don't score, Edmonds' three-run HR in the 7th and Aramis Ramirez' RBI single in the 8th would have won the game instead of just putting the Cubs back in it. They had a terrific chance to at least tie the game up in the 9th when they loaded the bases with nobody out, but Ronny Cedeno, Kosuke Fukudome and Henry Blanco all struck out and that was that.
Let's talk about Cedeno's K for a moment. He really didn't have a good at-bat -- he was set up well by O's closer George Sherrill, who put two fastballs by him and had Cedeno (he's got to give back ONEDEC! for a while, I think, having turned back around to the bad old Ronny) looking for a breaking ball outside -- and then Sherrill got him with a fastball again. So although Cedeno looked bad, give credit to Sherrill -- he does, after all, have 26 saves, the second-most in baseball.
Sean Marshall, I thought, threw well enough; he struck out seven and had his curve working quite well -- until he issued a walk in the 4th that helped lead to the first two runs, after which he started getting hit hard and often. The bullpen did a decent enough job of keeping the Cubs in the game -- as noted, the three runs off Wuertz shouldn't have scored.
You didn't really think this home winning streak would last forever, did you? That's a good long run, 14 games, and no streak like this one lasts forever. Credit to the Cubs for turning what looked, after six innings, to be a blowout loss, into a close game in the 8th and 9th that had the ballpark (and unlike a lot of midseason games, hardly anyone had left by the 9th) rocking, on an absolutely gorgeous, though coolish for late June, evening.
This is the first time the Orioles have visited Wrigley Field and there were a surprisingly large number of orange-clad Orioles fans in attendance. They were readily apparent not only for their bright-colored shirts, but they took part in what is a Baltimore tradition -- during the National Anthem, when the phrase near the end "Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave" is sung, they yell, very loudly, "O!" when "Oh" is sung. It was louder than you might have expected, mostly from the left field corner; the crowd last night, 41,537, was the sixth-largest crowd of the year.
That, and some pre-game discussion of the upcoming Peoria Chiefs game at Wrigley Field (to which, I learned from BCB reader BartlettBob, who sat with us last night, you cannot buy bleacher tickets at the box office -- only online), prompted me to go on an expedition to find out what the real seating capacity of Wrigley Field is. I remembered, years ago, there used to be posted signs, required by the Chicago Fire Department, of how many seats are in each area of the ballpark, including the bleachers. I figured if I added them all up, I could get pretty close, because there are so many different numbers online as to the current capacity. The Cubs website says 41,160, but that's been the same since last year; they haven't, it seems, added the 70 CBOE seats to that total. ESPN.com has -- sort of. They say 41,210. Ballparks.com, a pretty good authority, says 41,118.
So what do the official "ballpark figures" say? What they say is, the fire department and the Cubs have to get together and make a new sign. There's only one sign, now posted near the Cubs administrative office entrance. It's dated July 29, 2004 -- that's just about when the city came in to inspect, in connection with the falling concrete found earlier that month. The sign says the "fixed seating" capacity is 38,548 with "fixed seting including standing room" (yes, it's misspelled "seting") as 39,075.
Hey, Cubs: those numbers aren't even close to being right -- they don't include several of the premium seating sections nor the bleacher expansion. How about an accurate count?
Anyway, onward. The Cubs lost at home. It hadn't happened in five weeks. It was bound to happen sometime. We'll get 'em tonight. Final question for all of you: I noticed a third overflow thread was posted. Do you all think I need to post three overflow threads?
Click on photos to open a larger version in a new browser window. All photos by David Sameshima