This recap was going to be all about the Blackhawks' appearance at Wrigley Field before Sunday night's game; how they took a complete tour of the field, shook hands and posed for photos with their baseball counterparts, (a remarkable scene, actually; I'm not sure that there has ever been an occasion where three of Chicago's sports teams from the same season were in the same place at the same time before last night), and then spent the game in the Batter's Eye suite in the bleachers, where they exchanged fist bumps with any fans they encountered walking up and down the ramps.
Great theater, and it is, as far as I know, the only time a championship trophy won by a Chicago team has ever been inside Wrigley Field. Let it not be the last, please, and it's a Cubs World Series trophy I want to see there next.
And then Ted Lilly and Gavin Floyd upstaged the Stanley Cup champions.
The Cubs beat the White Sox 1-0, but that's not the story of the game. Until Alfonso Soriano's two-out double in the seventh (following Derrek Lee, of all people, being thrown out stealing), neither Floyd nor Lilly had allowed a hit (although there had been plenty of baserunners, via walks, a Sox error, and two hit batters by Ted).
The Cubs eked out their only run of the game when Chad Tracy's bouncer up the middle eluded a diving Gordon Beckham. And then it was up to Lilly to try to put the game in the history books.
With what was at first a soft, then more moderate, rain beginning to fall in the eighth inning, Lilly put the Sox down 1-2-3; the third out was an adventure when Tracy nearly tripped over third base trying to catch Jayson Nix's popup. Tracy had also made a nice play on an Andruw Jones sharp grounder in the sixth; often, in no-hitters, you see weird or outstanding defensive plays.
Then with the place rocking despite the rain, former Cub Juan Pierre led off the ninth batting for Floyd. The first thought was -- he's going to bunt. But with the field getting wet and muddy, that wasn't the likely outcome. Instead, Pierre lined a no-doubt-about-it single to center, and Lilly was done after 108 pitches. Had Ted been able to finish, we would have seen something almost as rare as a no-hitter -- a double complete game.
Carlos Marmol came in and immediately walked Jones; he wasn't sharp last night. He balked the runners to second and then -- and I couldn't believe this -- the Cubs ordered Alex Rios intentionally walked to pitch to Paul Konerko, the Sox' best hitter this year.
Really? Yes, I know Konerko's a double play possibility... and they nearly got one; Konerko bounced to Lee, who threw home for the force. One out to go. Marmol, after struggling, got Carlos Quentin to fly to center, where Marlon Byrd nearly had to push Starlin Castro out of the way to catch the ball, which finished off:
- A Cubs' victory snapping a three-game losing streak
- The Cubs' second 1-0 win of the season
- The Cubs' first one-hitter since April 13, 2009, when Lilly and three guys who aren't on the team any more combined to one-hit the Rockies.
There hasn't been much energy and excitement at Wrigley Field in 2010, but this game gave plenty. The Cubs gained a game in the standings on both the Reds and Cardinals -- maybe I'm dreaming, but sometimes playing a game like this energizes a club, and maybe it's not too late to make something out of this season.
One last thing about the double no-hitter taken into the last of the seventh inning. I have personally witnessed a game like that before; it happened at the old Comiskey Park on July 13, 1980. The Yankees' Rudy May and future Cub Steve Trout did exactly what Lilly and Floyd did last night. May threw six no-hit innings, allowing a runner to reach on an error, before the White Sox scored a run in the seventh. Trout walked the first hitter of the game, then retired 15 in a row before hitting a batter leading off the sixth; he was erased on a double play.
Trout kept the no-hitter entering the eighth inning. He walked former White Sox Eric Soderholm to lead off the eighth, and the next hitter broke up the no-hitter with a clean single to center, a hit much like Juan Pierre's last night.
That hitter? Lou Piniella. (The Yankees wound up winning 3-1.)
This kind of thing happens all the time in baseball, weaving its generations together seamlessly, yet another reason baseball is the greatest game.