Just three days ago, BCB reader lswaidz posted "Lillyisms", a post containing all the amazing things Ted Lilly has done, can do, or will do in the future.
Among all the incredible feats posted there, we left one out: his first career triple. Ted threw 6.2 outstanding scoreless innings and slammed a ball deep into the gap in right-center field at the Juice Box last night, hoofing it all the way to third base and later scoring. This helped lead the Cubs to an impressive 7-1 win over the Astros last night, the shutout ruined by a home run in the 9th inning off Sean Marshall (can anyone explain to me why Marshall, instead of Jason Waddell, was throwing in the 9th?). I don't think it's too early to start the "Ted Lilly For The All-Star Team" bandwagon.
That last note is my only complaint about the team's performance last night. Mike Fontenot celebrated his 29th birthday -- there was a study done by Bill James years ago that indicated that players often have big days on their birthdays -- with four hits, including his sixth home run; it was nice to see him break out and start hitting the ball with authority again. Same for Geovany Soto, who had three hits. And can we officially put the "move Derrek Lee down in the lineup" talk away? D-Lee had two hits and two walks and is now hitting .269/.358/.437. Even Andres Blanco joined in the fun with a two-run double that finished the Cub scoring in the sixth inning. Jake Fox had a pinch-double -- his fifth pinch-hit in six PH at-bats this year, very impressive -- and was rewarded with a return ticket to Iowa so that Aaron Miles could be activated. I don't understand this at all; Andres Blanco and Bobby Scales can do anything Miles can, and Fox was a useful bat off the bench. He'll be back.
Milton Bradley originally wasn't going to play last night, but talked Lou into using him; he had a tough day at the plate, going 0-for-6 with three K's and leaving ten batters stranded, but made a nice diving catch in right field in the ninth inning. Speaking of runners left on base, the Cubs could have scored far more runs than they did; they left sixteen men on base, which could have been cause for alarm if the pitching staff wasn't doing so well and they hadn't scored seven runs already.
It was a good day all around for the Cubs; late in the first round of what Bud Selig and Co. have now termed the "First-Year Player Draft" (and I cringed every time I heard him say "Los Angeleeeeeeeez" in announcing Dodgers and Angels picks), the Cubs tabbed outfielder Brett Jackson from UC-Berkeley. Complete coverage of the draft in BCB's minor league section, and also last night, Josh77 posted a link to this video of Jackson taken by his father and posted on YouTube. The instant analysis of the pick on the MLB Network was universally positive; I hope they get Jackson, who is a huge Cubs fan, signed soon and playing. As a college player he could probably head right to the Midwest League, but I'm guessing he'd go to Boise at first.
And even better -- the Cardinals and Brewers both lost last night; that puts St. Louis, the Cubs, and the Reds (who won their game) in a virtual tie 2.5 games behind Milwaukee, but the Cubs, who have lost fewer games than the Cardinals or Reds, lead by one percentage point and are technically in second place by themselves, just one game down to the Brewers in the loss column. And, Len Kasper reported during last night's telecast that Aramis Ramirez had done a bit of hitting in the batting cage and taken a few ground balls, only one month after his shoulder separation. They won't rush him, but he does still appear to be on target to return after the All-Star break. And, the Cubs are now 8-4 since the eight-game losing streak ended. Keep the faith.