Well, Z certainly looks alright.
On the Fourth of July, the Cubs rode a strong return from Carlos Zambrano and home runs by Kosuke Fukudome and Geovany Soto to declare independence from the Cardinals, opening up a 3 1/2 game lead in the division with a 2-1 victory. It's a good thing America's a melting pot, because without Japanese and Venezuelan players not much would have happened tonight.
The game was pretty much about Carlos, who handcuffed the Cardinal offense for six innings. For the most part, he either stayed well ahead of the hitters or induced them into quick outs. (In reviewing my photos during the game, I noted "Pujols strikes out. Check. Pujols pops up. Check.") Actually, there were only a few moments of tension during the game, as Kosuke homered on the ninth pitch of his first at bat for the early lead. (And I say domo arigato to Kosuke, who hadn't previously done very much at any games I've attended this year.) Geovany Soto also had a great game, with the aforementioned homer, a walk, and two singles. Two runs might not have been enough for most of this week, but tonight it was just enough. Jim Edmonds got a very nice and very loud standing ovation and doffed his helmet to the Cardinals fans, and then proceeded to strike out three times and meekly fly out.
The main threat from the Cardinals didn't come after Albert Pujols hit his 300th career home run in the eighth (meh) to bring them within a run. It came in the second, when Yadier Molina reached on exactly the type of infield hit that occasionally sends Z mental. With two runners on, however, genius Tony LaRussa had his pitcher in the 8th slot, ending the threat.
Although the end of the game was exciting after the Pujols home run (Howry - strong start, but meh), fortunately no one was on base ahead of him, and Neal Cotts and Kerry Wood held onto the lead for four more outs. Actually, the bottom of the ninth was one of the stranger things I've seen in a ballpark, with the St. Louis fireworks display beginning as Kerry warmed up on the mound and continuing throughout the inning. Didn't bother Woody, though.
A fine evening at the ballpark, and a fine way to spend the Fourth.
Z on the mound.
Dome with Pujols
Wood closes it out.