How many times will you see a headline like that?
I'll answer that with another question: how many times have you ever seen a ball bounce over the 11 1/2 foot high bleacher wall at Wrigley Field for a ground-rule double? (Answer: maybe once every 3-4 years.) And another: how many times has a ball like that been one that otherwise would have ended the game with a Cubs win? (Answer: I've never seen that before.)
The Cubs came from behind to beat the Reds 3-2 with an exciting ninth inning that began with Carlos Pena's third home run this week and ended on a Kosuke Fukudome single up the middle after the above sequence of events. Blake DeWitt, whose earlier homer gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead, singled with one out, and after Tyler Colvin struck out, Jeff Baker hit a ball to deep center that Drew Stubbs appeared to misjudge. It wasn't clear to me that he ever touched it, but even if he did, it then bounced off a wet warning track over the bleacher wall and the basket into the seats. According to the Wrigley page at ballparks.com, that basket extends the height to over 15 feet. Balls have to hit at a particular spot and angle to not hit the bottom of the basket and bounce back on the field -- and that one did, forcing DeWitt to stop at third, where Fukudome's third hit of the day drove him in to win it, in a steady hard drizzle that was turning into light rain.
You know, for a change, because it just hasn't rained enough this baseball season in Chicago.
Casey Coleman started and threw six solid innings, giving up just three hits through that many, but then got into trouble by walking Chris Heisey to lead off the seventh, and then allowed a single by Ryan Hanigan. That brought Kerry Wood into the game, and after he recorded a pair of outs, one on a sac bunt by Bronson Arroyo, Wood gave up a seeing-eye single to Stubbs -- a ball that was very much like Kosuke's game winning hit -- and the Reds had a 2-1 lead. Still, Coleman gets a quality start for that outing and that's very encouraging, because he'll be holding down the fourth rotation spot until either Randy Wells or Andrew Cashner return (probably Wells returning first).
James Russell did the job he's best suited for -- LOOGY relief -- and credit to Marcos Mateo today for recording the last four outs and getting credit for his first major league win when the Cubs had their ninth-inning rally.
It's nice to see Pena starting to come alive with the bat. The three hits today raised his BA to .195 -- yes, still not great, but up almost 40 points since his low point of the season was reached last weekend (.159), and his SLG, while still pretty low (.325), is also up considerably from a pathetic level of .171 just five days ago.
Meanwhile, Aramis Ramirez has six hits in his last 38 at-bats, and as I mentioned to our group in the bleachers today, is now on pace to hit five home runs. Maybe he should be the next guy to get a day off, after Alfonso Soriano and Starlin Castro got needed breaks today. Baker or DeWitt could start at 3B tomorrow.
Both Baker and DeWitt, along with fellow bench player Reed Johnson, have been solid contributors this season. That's a real change from a year ago, as was a game like this -- previous Cubs teams might have folded after that unlucky bounce, but this one came right back and got the hit when they needed it the most. The win moves the Cubs back to within two games of .500 and three games of first place, and they've got another chance to win a series tomorrow when Ryan Dempster, who was terrific in Los Angeles on Tuesday, faces Johnny Cueto, just off the DL and making his season debut.
On a day on which we are promised good weather:
Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 64. East northeast wind between 10 and 15 mph.
Yeah, that's what they said on Friday morning, too. I'll believe it when I see it.