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A Marquis Opponent: Cubs 2, Rockies 5

Lou said it best in his postgame remarks: "He's got to be absolutely sure he can make it in that situation."

Correct, and Mike Fontenot's attempt to take third base on a pitch that didn't quite get far enough away from Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta took the Cubs out of what was a most promising rally, with Geovany Soto at bat, a run in, two runners on and nobody out in the last of the ninth. Some of us could have been forgiven if we saw visions of last May 30's comeback against Colorado; instead, momentum changed, and Geo grounded into a game-ending DP instead, finishing off a disappointing 5-2 loss to the Rockies.

Before I go on, a criticism or two of Fontenot, who I like a lot and who I think is generally one of the smartest players on the team. What advantage would he get from being on third base, three runs down? Sure, a sac fly would score him from there, but that many runs down and the tying run at the plate, staying put would have been a far better idea. Maybe Geo walks... that might have brought Aramis Ramirez out of the dugout to bat for Aaron Miles (A-Ram was, presumably, available to PH and would have batted for the pitcher if not for Miles).

Maybe this game wasn't destined to be won. Jason Marquis threw the kind of game he pitched when he was "on" during his Cub tenure -- sinkers, ground balls, few strikeouts, efficient use of his pitches. Give the guy some credit. I'm sure that he wanted to prove a point to Lou and Jim, and he got his point across. Those who booed him again when he was introduced simply don't understand that he did exactly the job he was asked to do in his two years with the Cubs. Was he overpaid? Sure he was, but no one forced Jim Hendry to dole out that contract. It's not Marquis' fault.

In any case, who looked like a $7 million pitcher today? Marquis, or Rich Harden? Harden had a strange day. Striking out the side in the first inning, he looked dominant, though a bit "effectively wild". Then, after a K and a walk in the second, Harden deflected a grounder that, had he let it go past him, might have been an inning-ending DP. Instead, Troy Tulowitzki beat it out for an infield hit, and after another walk -- Lou said that Harden, after the first, was just "throwing, not pitching" -- and a strikeout, the good-hitting Marquis singled in two runs.

The Cubs might have broken through against Marquis in the first inning had Kosuke Fukudome not made an ill-advised attempt to steal second as Derrek Lee was striking out. After that Marquis didn't allow a hit till D-Lee singled in the fourth. Lee had a nice day, with three hits including his first homer of the year, the one that gave us brief hope in the last of the ninth. It wasn't an easy day to homer, with the wind blowing straight in (listed in the boxscore at 8 MPH, it was stronger than that), but the Rockies' Seth Smith managed one to straightaway CF in the third. Harden's day ended after that inning; he faced 15 batters, and only five of them hit fair balls (of his nine outs, eight were K's and one was a runner trying to take an extra base). After the day started again cloudy -- but far more pleasant than Monday -- the sun came out in the middle innings, to loud applause, and suddenly it felt nearly springlike (at least in the sun; people in the shade still had blankets on).

Good today: the bullpen. David Patton, Luis Vizcaino, Neal Cotts and Angel Guzman threw six innings, allowed four hits and three walks, and struck out six. Unfortunately, it was the extra run that Guzman gave up in the eighth that perhaps prompted Fontenot's scamper; maybe if the Cubs are down only 4-2, he stays put. Also good today: Micah Hoffpauir with a pinch-hit RBI double. The more he does this, the more he sells me that he actually can be a good bench player. Still -- small sample size, since he has exactly four PH at-bats this season.

Anyway, a tip o' the cap to Jason Marquis. Sometimes the other guy is just better than you are; that's what happened today.

Finally, in honor of Jackie Robinson, every player on both teams wore his retired #42 today. That was a nice tribute. It made keeping score interesting, not to mention the occasional comment when #42 got up in the bullpen: "Which #42 is that?"