If you are younger than, say, about 40 and have often wondered what some of those wacky Wrigley Field games in the 1970's were like when the score was 18-12, last night's entertaining 6-4, rain-shortened Cubs win over the Padres gave you a little taste of it.
Sure, neither team scored ten runs, but the six home runs hit in seven and a half innings before a ferocious thunderstorm ended play actually seemed as if it might be more when the game began; three home runs were hit in the first inning alone, with the wind officially blowing out at 14 MPH.
I can tell you that wind was far stronger than 14 MPH; during the last couple of rain events that finally got so strong that they had to hold up play for good, it was too strong to even hold up my umbrella. As noted in this FanPost from section229beer, they sent all the seat vendors home at 5:30 due to the threat of bad weather (which would have forced a Thursday doubleheader -- you would have owed me another Super Big Gulp, Jessica). I did spot at least two who stuck around, carrying the tall sticks with bags of cotton candy and kettle corn on them.
At game time it wasn't even raining -- but after Ted Lilly did his usual jog around the warning track before his bullpen warmup, he jogged back to the dugout area and the field was covered until about 7:30, for a first pitch that finally occurred at 7:40. In another "didn't we see this game last night?" occurrence, Adrian Gonzalez again gave San Diego a 2-0 lead with a first-inning homer. Unlike the previous night, though, this homer was definitely wind-aided; it would have been a routine fly ball on most days.
Not so for Alfonso Soriano's 53rd career leadoff homer (tying him with Craig Biggio for 2nd all-time) in the last of the first -- that wound up on Waveland with two of the regular ballhawks (not Ken, though) in hot pursuit. Ryan Theriot followed with his fifth homer of the year (and fifth this month, tying him for the major league lead in that category with half the month remaining). I was surprised to learn two things about that event from the cubs.com game recap:
- It wasn't Theriot's first career two-homer game; he also did it on September 17, 2006.
- The last time the first two Cubs in the lineup homered in the first inning was April 27, 2000, when Eric Young and Ricky Gutierrez did it in Houston.
Fun stuff. Anyway, Lilly, despite the wind, gave up only one more homer, again to Gonzalez in the sixth -- no shame there, Gonzalez, who is now tied for the major league lead with 13 homers, is San Diego's one legitimate star hitter. Ted had excellent command and struck out seven while issuing no walks, and left to a standing ovation with one out in the seventh. Angel Guzman, slowly becoming a polished setup man, finished the seventh and Carlos Marmol, though a bit shaky again with two walks as rain began to fall, allowed a run on a weird play when pinch-hitter Jody Gerut singled with runners on first and second. A run scored, but Brian Giles was caught afterward in a rundown, and then the skies unleashed a downpour. The game was finally called around 11:10, by which time most in the stands, myself included, were long gone. Kevin Gregg had started to loosen up in anticipation of coming into a ninth inning that was never played; because of the rain, Marmol wound up with his third save of the year.
It was nice to see Geovany Soto hit his first homer of the year; he also singled and is starting to hit the ball with more authority. Derrek Lee, meanwhile, made a couple of nice plays in the field, but again looked lost at the plate. He could use a day off, in my opinion. The Cubs could go into a first-place tie today if they win and the Brewers and Cardinals lose (they would then be 20-14, tied with the Reds, who have the day off).
At this writing the sun is shining and it's supposed to be around 68 degrees this afternoon with lighter winds. Let's sweep this series. The pregame thread will post at 11:30 am CDT.