Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to read is true. Not even the names have been changed to protect the innocent. -- Apologies to Jack Webb and Dragnet
You've heard this one before, I'm sure. Cubs starting pitcher throws very, very well and the Cubs' offense, though anemic, has scored enough runs to take a lead into the very, very late innings of a 2012 baseball game.
Pow! There comes a Cubs relief pitcher! There go many opposing runners crossing the plate! There goes another defeat posted!
Travis Wood was the very, very good Saturday at Wrigley Field, throwing seven strong innings, striking out eight, and making a key defensive play on a bunt that kept the Cubs in the lead. He had thrown 99 pitches through seven. You can argue back and forth about whether he should have stayed in the game or not, but there he was, James Russell, lefthanded pitcher, and the first four batters due up are all righthanded hitters.
Now, Russell isn't your typical LOOGY, put in games to retire lefthanded batters. This year, though, RHB are hitting .292/.356/.492 against him, while LHB are hitting .256/.301/.449. I'm thinking this particular inning might have called for someone else to come into the game.
But there he was, Russell on the mound facing RHB, and they pounded him: double, single, double resulting in two runs and a 3-2 Reds lead. A double play followed, and perhaps the Cubs could get out of the inning down by just one, but that was followed by another double and a single, resulting in a fourth Cincinnati run, and those, as they would have said on Dragnet, are "just the facts".
Another fact: Aroldis Chapman is still really, really, really good. Once he came into the game in the ninth inning, the Cubs really stood no chance of coming back. Chapman struck out two of the three hitters he faced. Starlin Castro managed to hit the ball to make an out -- a weak foul popup to Wilson Valdez. Chapman is now one batter short of striking out 50 percent of all the hitters he's faced -- 105 of 212 -- which would be, by far, a major-league record.
That's really about it for this abbreviated, delayed recap of a game played on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in front of a full house that had to be almost a quarter Reds fans. The wedding I attended Saturday evening was very, very nice, the highlight of the day (and it would have been even if the Cubs had won). The Cubs will go for a series split Sunday afternoon; the game preview will post here at 11:30 a.m. CDT.