Some thoughts on a very long morning, afternoon and early evening at Wrigley Field which ended with the Cubs defeating the Dodgers 4-3 in 11 innings:
- The Cubs made the right call on delaying the game the way they did. There weren't really any suitable makeup dates if this game had been postponed, and this is the Dodgers' only visit to Chicago this year. It rained from about 12:30 to 1:15, when the grounds crew took the tarp off and did all their pre-game prep work. However, another line of storms was due a little after 2. Had they started, they'd have been able to play only an inning or so before another hour's worth of delay, since it then rained until just after 3 (which included some flashy-looking lightning displays). Better to delay it and play unencumbered by rain (no rain fell once the game started), which they then did... and did... and did...
- Travis Wood started off shaky, just as he had in spring training and at Iowa this season, with too many walks. Somehow, though, right after Juan Rivera's two-run home run made it 3-0 Dodgers, something clicked in Wood's game and he retired the next 11 hitters in a row, before departing for a pinch-hitter. Given the fact that he had two hits, equalling the total of all Cubs pitchers combined this year before today, maybe Dale Sveum should have left Wood in to hit even if he was going remove him from pitching. Wood's good outing should leave him in the running to make another start.
- The Cubs' bullpen was excellent Sunday afternoon, throwing five shutout innings and giving up just three singles and no walks. Maybe there's hope for this maligned pen after all. Credit where credit is due: Shawn Camp, who I've disparaged here, now has allowed just one run in his last six appearances. Looks like he might be a decent middle reliever after all.
Oh, there's more. A lot more.
The paid attendance was announced as 38,125. Of course, there were many no-shows, but considering the weather and the very late start, a surprisingly large number of people showed up -- I'd estimate about 29,000. Of those, maybe 8,000 stuck around through a chilly afternoon, a two-hour-and-forty-one-minute rain delay, and a game that was almost an hour longer than the delay. It certainly was entertaining.
I had a long rant ready to go about the play at the plate where David DeJesus was called out attempting to score the winning run on Tony Campana's double in the bottom of the ninth. Ian Stewart had already scored the tying run, and it looked like DeJesus had a good shot at ending the game right then. It took a perfect relay from Mark Ellis, and DeJesus was tagged out. After that, catcher A.J. Ellis dropped the ball, which brought Dale Sveum out of the dugout. It appeared at first glance that Sveum had a point, but replays showed that the throw from one Ellis to another was held long enough to record the out, and the ball was dropped on an attempted transfer.
Replay review would solve all of these issues, of course. But that's a rant for another day.
Onward the game went. Rafael Dolis threw two solid innings of relief, setting up the winning rally in the 11th. Darwin Barney's hard shot went off Adam Kennedy's glove, and when Rivera was slow to get to the ball, Barney hustled into second with a double.
I personally was surprised that the Dodgers then intentionally walked Welington Castillo. Castillo had been awful offensively since his callup to replace the injured Steve Clevenger. Coming into his 11th-inning at-bat, he was 0-for-11 with five strikeouts. Why wouldn't you want to face a guy in a slump like that?
Anyway, the Dodgers gave the Cubs a break with the intentional pass, bringing Jeff Samardzija to the plate as a pinch-bunter. (I presume his intention was to bunt.) Instead, Wright hit Shark with his first pitch, loading the bases and setting up DeJesus' walk-off walk, six hours and 20 minutes after the original first pitch had been scheduled to go at 1:20 p.m. CT.
In doing so, the Cubs took two of three from a Dodgers team that came into Chicago with the best record in the National League. Today, the Cubs looked pretty good; in addition to all the things mentioned above, Bryan LaHair had three hits and a walk and is now hitting .390. Tony Campana had not just that ninth-inning double, but another double in the first inning, his first two extra-base hits of the season.
And after Travis Wood's good start Sunday afternoon, the Cubs will have some decisions to make about how the rotation will shape up in the future.
Now, off to dry off, and get ready for the Braves to come to town starting Monday.