The wind was howling out to right field at 15 MPH, with higher gusts, and so it appeared that many home runs might have been hit toward Sheffield Avenue today at Wrigley Field.
There were a pair of homers -- one leading off the game by Arizona's Willie Bloomquist, only the 14th in a 2000-plate-appearance career, and one by Alfonso Soriano, his second in as many days -- but both went to left field, as did a couple of extra-base hits in the Cubs' eighth that nearly made it over the wall, and the Cubs defeated the Diamondbacks 4-1, evening up their season record at 2-2.
Randy Wells was the victim of that leadoff homer; he then gave up a single and it was, "Uh-oh, here's the bad first inning Randy Wells again". But Wells settled down and despite a bit of control trouble (four walks), he gave the team six good innings, allowing just that single run, and striking out six.
I guess I shouldn't complain too much because the Cubs won, but I'm already a bit worried about Mike Quade's bullpen use. There was no need to use three pitchers to set Arizona down in the seventh inning. Why couldn't Sean Marshall have thrown the entire inning? He's not a LOOGY. Sure, it worked, but are we headed for five Cub relievers with 80 appearances? Kerry Wood had a solid inning -- getting out of it after Starlin Castro made an error -- and we saw Good Carlos Marmol today. But the latter two have now thrown three days in a row; what if either or both are needed tomorrow?
There was a lot of good today -- the Cubs coming from behind after another one of those "uh-oh, we're down in the first" things which last year would have led to a loss, Geovany Soto throwing out two runners trying to steal, Soriano's homer, Soriano getting a key two-out single which increased the lead to three, John Grabow even contributing an out when the lead was only one run. The flip side to "overusing" the bullpen is the idea that everyone on the team is contributing. I was a bit surprised when Quade sent Reed Johnson up to bat for Carlos Pena, but at least it was a situation (unlike yesterday) when Johnson was up where he can do the most good (vs. a LHP). Quade wasn't afraid to play the ninth inning with Jeff Baker at first base, and as it turned out, that didn't matter. The more Baker can do this, the better he'll be at it.
Now let's talk about today's attendance, which was announced as 26,282. That comprises season tickets, group sales (there was one group that sat way up in the RF corner in the 500 level -- maybe they asked for those specific seats?), and bleacher tickets not already sold on a season basis.
There couldn't have been more than about 9,000-10,000 people in the park, which is the fewest I've seen since maybe the end of the 2000 season. The bleachers looked a little less than half full, maybe 2,000, and people were scattered in clumps elsewhere. Obviously, the lack of a notable opponent and the lousy weather kept people away. I'd expect the announced crowd to be about the same the next two days; tomorrow, more people will probably be in the ballpark, partly because it's supposed to be a sunny (though coolish) day, and partly because they are giving away Starlin Castro bobbleheads.
Nice to win. Let's do it again tomorrow. Oh, and the Brewers are 0-4.