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A Team Effort: Cubs 7, Orioles 4

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This recap is going to be pretty short because: a) my computer kept crashing this morning any time I opened IE, so I finally gave up and am using Firefox for this; b) there's going to be another game thread up in a couple of hours for the day game today; and c) the Cubs made quick work of the Orioles 7-4 last night.

That's not completely true -- Ted Lilly kept trying to put Baltimore back into the game by giving up two-run homers to Jay Payton, a pair of them; but the six runs the Cubs scored in the first two innings were enough to compensate for that. Lilly didn't have his "A" game, or as Mike said to me last night, even his "B" game -- but his "C" game was enough to make it through seven innings, allowing only five hits (two of them the Payton HR) and four runs.

That helped save most of the bullpen (Scott Eyre has thrown about 500 pitches there this homestand without getting into a single game), and things seem to be getting back to normal for Carlos Marmol -- he was far closer to the strike zone last night, looking like the dominating Marmol of the first two months (16 strikes in 21 pitches) and Kerry Wood was completely unhittable, hitting 98 a couple of times on the perhaps admittedly biased Wrigley radar gun, striking out the side in the 9th for his 20th save.

Every starting Cub reached base at least once last night and only Eric Patterson (who walked for his only on-base appearance) didn't have a hit. The biggest blows were Geovany Soto's two-run single in the first inning and another HR from the apparently-rejuvenated Jim Edmonds, who is now hitting .305/.376/.622 as a Cub in 82 at-bats, including six doubles, a triple and six home runs.

A few things, though, worry me about a win that looks real good statistically: first, as good as the offense looked, they stranded a ton of runners -- fourteen men left on base, including leaving the bases loaded in the second and eighth. With 12 hits and 10 walks, the Cubs ought to have scored at least three or four more runs and put the game far out of reach. Derrek Lee grounded into another double play -- that's sixteen for him, on pace for 32, which would be third-most in major league history (Lee is tied with the Dodgers' James Loney for the most in the majors so far this year). And, Kosuke Fukudome, who was in the original starting lineup (last night, former Vine Line editor Jim McArdle, who's working on a book for this season, came to sit with us and had the early lineup on his scorecard -- I copied it, but it changed by the time it was announced; also had to switch Baltimore's starter when the original starter from the preview, Brian Burres, was switched out for Matt Albers, who didn't make it past the fifth Cub hitter before he was lifted with shoulder trouble), had to be scratched with tightness in his left calf. In his postgame news conference, Lou said that rather than starting today, Dome is "day-to-day", which could mean anything. I doubt you'll see him today and given that statement, he might wind up missing some time this weekend on the South Side, too.

I guess we shouldn't complain too much, right? Did you ever think you'd see me thank Gary Sheffield here? Thanks, Gary. Sheffield's 9th-inning single gave the Tigers an 8-7 rain-delayed win over the Cardinals, increasing the Cubs' lead to 4.5 games.

Two more notes from around baseball, passed along without further comment, and then I'm done and on to the pregame thread, which will post at 11:30:

  • Astros pitcher Shawn Chacon has been suspended by the team for physically assaulting GM Ed Wade when Wade wanted to discuss Chacon's demotion to the bullpen.
  • Barry Bonds won't play for an independent league team and his agent now claims he'll play for the minimum salary, with proceeds donated to "buy tickets for children". No, sorry, I have to comment here. You believe that? I don't.

Onward. Let's win this series.