Will the Chicago summer ever get here? Right now I'd take hot and humid. The temperature hovered in the mid-60's last night at Wrigley Field and both teams' bats were about as cold as the Novemberish temperatures. Combined, the Braves and Cubs managed 15 hits -- 11 singles, three doubles and a triple (the latter probably would have been only a double had Micah Hoffpauir played Brooks Conrad's drive off the wall better), and both pitchers, Carlos Zambrano and Javier Vazquez, threw mostly shutdown ball.
Vazquez was just a little bit better and this was another "tip your cap to the other guy" game, a 2-1 Cubs loss to the Braves, evening the series at one game each.
There's not a whole lot more that can be said about this game, and with a day game coming soon, I'll keep this mercifully short. Z threw well on short rest, keeping his pitch count reasonably low for six innings (91 -- I know we can all remember games when he had 100+ pitches in FIVE innings); Sean Marshall and Aaron Heilman did a good job of keeping the game close, and that's a good sign for the bullpen, which has had more than its share of problems this year. The Cubs were victimized by several good defensive plays, including a number by Braves SS Yunel Escobar, who has outstanding range.
It was good to see Aramis Ramirez get around on some pitches; he had a pair of hits and while he still isn't driving the ball as he used to, I'm sure that will come with timing. Alfonso Soriano, who was loudly booed every time he came to the plate -- ridiculous, in my opinion -- had two hits and had another line drive grabbed by Martin Prado at 3B.
A few words about Ryan Dempster's injury, a fractured big toe apparently suffered when he jumped over the dugout railing to celebrate Sunday's win over Milwaukee and landed wrong. Credit Dempster for being a standup guy and telling the truth. It was, apparently, completely an accident. As usual, funnyman Dempster tried to deflect the pain with a joke:
"I guess it's what I get for making fun of the guys who go on the DL for burning their faces in the suntan booth," he said.
Dempster claims he might only miss "three starts"; the Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmyer tweeted this last night:
Demp says might miss only 3 starts. Says it's about ain tolerance.
"Pain" tolerance, of course; that's a typo. As someone who once suffered the same injury that Dempster had in a similar freak accident (OK, if you have to know: I tripped over the stupid bench they put at the foot of the bed in a hotel room in Las Vegas several years ago), it hurts like hell and took a couple of months to heal properly, and I'm not a professional athlete who has to use his feet and legs to push off for power in his pitching. If Dempster thinks he can manage the pain to pitch, great -- but you also wouldn't want to see him make subtle adjustments in his motion while favoring one foot, because that could cause arm trouble.
Enough. The Cubs can still win this series later this afternoon. The game preview thread will post at 11:30 am CDT.