So it wasn't a huge surprise that the Brewers, who put up 20 on the Pirates on Thursday, would have been a little offensively-challenged last night -- they scored just one run, although the entire game might have been different if Prince Fielder's blast in the first inning had been ruled a home run. It was ruled a double on the field and confirmed by replay -- again, why can't they use replay for other plays? -- and the replays showed that the outfield wall isn't one solid pad, but some green pads topped by a smaller yellow pad (which would be the HR line). The ball hit the very top of the green pad and bounced straight up -- making it in play. If it had hit the yellow-line pad, it would have bounced straight out. The umpires made the right call. You can clearly see how those two pieces of the wall are separate in Damen Jackson's photo here, and also in the photo at the top of this post.
Had that been a home run, it would have tied the game 2-2, after the Cubs had jumped out of the gate with a pair in the top of the inning, and maybe it would have wound up differently.
Instead, the Cubs kept hitting and beat the Brewers 8-1, smashing 13 hits including a pair of homers, one by Kosuke Fukudome and a massive blast from Tyler Colvin that plated the final two runs in the ninth inning.
Staked to that early lead, Ryan Dempster cruised through 7.2 innings, giving the Brewers just a single run and striking out four. Carlos Zambrano actually got up and started to throw in the eighth inning, but Lou had announced before the game that Z wouldn't get into a game until (at least) today -- likely, he was probably just getting Z accustomed to the bullpen routine and how he would have to get himself ready to warm up.
Instead, when Dempster departed after 111 pitches, Carlos Marmol came in for the final four outs. Only four of Marmol's eight appearances so far this year have been in save situations -- sometimes, a closer doesn't do well in non-save situations, but last night was the first time this year that Marmol had even given up a hit in such game situations. Part of the reason, of course, is the lack of save situations and the need to give Marmol some work.
It was nice to see the offense break loose. Everyone in the starting lineup except Dempster had at least one hit, including Chad Tracy, making his first start of the year. (Incidentally, couldn't Tracy and Dempster have been Separated At Birth?) Koyie Hill, never known for his bat, is now hitting .353. Obviously, no one expects him to hit like that all year, but it's nice to know your backup catcher can get a few hits every now and then.
Just two more things. First, someone will have to be sent back to Iowa when Ted Lilly is activated to start tonight's game. The obvious choice is Jeff Samardzija, whose ERA is somewhere in orbit around Jupiter and who hasn't pitched since Monday.
And, after last night's games, the entire National League is within four games -- 10-6 (Phillies and Cardinals) to 6-10 (Astros), all of the 16 teams having played either 16 or 17 games. Even the supposedly powerful teams in Philadelphia and St. Louis are off to pedestrian starts, and the Phillies have lost four of their last six; think they're panicking there? I think not. Way too early to draw any conclusions about where the 2010 season is headed.
Now, beat those Brewers again tonight. Last night's game drew 37,848 -- I'd expect a sellout tonight. I'll be up there; hope to see some of you there. Go Cubs.