If I'm Cleveland manager Eric Wedge, I tell Kerry Wood to get on a plane back to Cleveland tonight or tomorrow morning so I'm not even tempted to use him in tomorrow's game.
Wood wild-pitched in the winning run in yet another amazing Cubs comeback, this time resulting in a 6-5, 13-inning win over the Indians, the Cubs' third straight win in walkoff fashion (and fourth overall walkoff in this homestand).
Personally, I think Kerry Wood did a fine job for the Cubs last season and was doing at least a decent job for the Tribe up to now (except on the road, where he entered today's action with a 7.45 ERA). But, especially after yesterday's blown save, Wood had to be running his head through all kinds of scenarios and emotions on the mound and was absolutely not focused on the task at hand.
This all worked out fine for the Cubs, of course, and with Milwaukee's second straight loss to Detroit, 9-5, the Cubs are now even with the Brewers in the loss column (yes, that's important, because it's possible they will be ahead of them in the loss column by tomorrow, meaning fewer wins to make up).
Can someone explain to me why Cubs pitchers keep giving up homers to Luis Valbuena? The guy came into today's game hitting .204, and although he had a couple of years in double figures in homers in the minors, he doesn't seem the picture of "power hitter". All four of Valbuena's homers this year have been hit in Chicago -- three in this series, the other at the Cell vs. the White Sox.
Lou said in his postgame remarks that had the game gone to the 14th inning, Randy Wells, tomorrow's starter, would have been on the mound, leaving a question mark as to who would have started Sunday's game. Most likely, Sean Marshall, who faced only one hitter and threw only four pitches, would have been pressed into service.
The late and extra innings were a comedy of errors, mostly mental, some managerial -- seriously, why was Carlos Zambrano pinch-hitting instead of Jake Fox in the 11th? Yes, we all know Z can hit. But in reality, he's not a very good pinch-hitter; he's now 2-for-20 as a PH, both singles, with ten strikeouts. In that situation Z has one job (at least in his mind) -- hit the ball halfway to Milwaukee. He took a called third strike which was right down the middle. The Cubs also had a shot at winning the game with one out and a runner in scoring position in the 8th and 10th, but failed both times (Andres Blanco -- and then, Blanco gets a key hit in the 13th to drive in the tying run after Valbuena gave the Tribe the lead with his homer).
All this after Ted Lilly threw another capable six innings, though the longballs he gave up were uncharacteristic of his last few outings. It wasn't just the two homers; the two doubles leading off the game that gave Cleveland its first run were both hard-hit. I still worry about Carlos Marmol, who doesn't seem to have his command back, and though Aaron Heilman's line shows two scoreless innings, he walked the bases loaded in the 8th and threw only 27 strikes in 52 pitches.
Cub props today to: Derrek Lee, hitting his 4th homer in three games, and Kosuke Fukudome, who had four hits and a walk and scored the tying run in the 13th. And speaking of people trying too hard, Milton Bradley... well, he should have stopped at second in the first inning, because he was thrown out easily by Shin-Soo Choo (who is a very underrated player and a dangerous hitter).
What else can I say? This team goes from you thinking, "There they go blowing it again", to finding a way to win when behind in extra innings. They are, as I said yesterday, finding their identity and finding new heroes every day. You rarely see three walkoffs like that in a season, much less three days in a row. It was the Cubs' seventh extra-inning game this month, with nine games still to go in the month (record: 4-3).
Finally, a shout-out to the three guys from Toronto and environs, Cubs fans all, who made the trip in from Ontario for this game. Nice talking to you -- and man, did you ever pick a great game to see. Onward to, hopefully, a sweep tomorrow.