For a while Saturday night, it looked as if the Cubs might be trying to break the team record for longest game by time that they had set just four days earlier. The bullpen threw 5⅔ innings of scoreless relief from the sixth through the 11th innings, and the game meandered past four hours.
John Baker, Tuesday's pitching hero, was nowhere to be seen on the mound when Hanley Ramirez smacked a three-run walkoff homer to win the game for the Dodgers 5-2. Blake Parker, who had been reasonably effective in his last few Cubs outings, was Ramirez' victim. The Dodgers evened up the series, even without Adrian Gonzalez or Yasiel Puig in the starting lineup, both nursing minor injuries. Gonzalez and Puig both pinch hit later and Puig was involved in an odd play in which a pickoff attempt was made on him and he went back in standing up. Called safe on the field, a replay review confirmed that Anthony Rizzo had tagged him on the leg before he re-touched first base.
The problem for the Cubs was the usual: failure to hit with RISP. They were 1-for-6 in that category Saturday evening and stranded 12 runners, including RISP in the eighth and 12th innings.
All of this was after Tsuyoshi Wada had a reasonably effective outing, though he was pulled by Rick Renteria one out short of a "quality start," for whatever that somewhat-flawed stat is worth. Wada doesn't have great velocity and likely never will, but he did a good job of moving the ball around the strike zone and keeping the Dodgers off balance. His only real mistake was a fastball up to Matt Kemp in the fourth inning that Kemp deposited into the left-field seats for a two-run homer, the only runs off Wada. It was similar to a pitch that Wada had struck Kemp out on earlier in the game. Wada has certainly earned a continued look in the rotation.
The Cubs actually scored first, on a Chris Coghlan double and RBI single by Starlin Castro. Castro had three hits for the second straight night and appears to have come out of his July slump just as the calendar switched to August. After Kemp's homer gave the Dodgers the lead, the Cubs knotted the game at 2 in the seventh when Junior Lake bunted his way on and Arismendy Alcantara doubled him in. The bunt single was a welcome sight; Lake on a head-first slide into first base wasn't. Those kind of slides rarely work (Lake probably would have been safe if he had just kept running) and can often lead to hand injuries.
Perhaps the strangest thing about Saturday's game was rain. Yes, rain in Southern California in August -- a light shower as the game was starting and another one, a bit harder, around the ninth inning. According to the Tribune recap of this game:
the last rainout at Dodger Stadium was in 2002, and the last rain delay was in 2008, but the rains didn't intensify to the point where they had to stop the game. Dodger Stadium's tarp is located behind the center field fence.
I know there are quite a few of you here who live in Southern California and might have even been at this game -- I'd like to hear about your experience in the unusual August rain. According to weather.com, the average total rainfall in Los Angeles for the entire month of August is four-hundredths of an inch.
Since Tuesday the Cubs have played 1,250 minutes of baseball, an average of four hours, 10 minutes per game. With Edwin Jackson scheduled to start Sunday (against the Dodgers' Josh Beckett), that average won't likely go down much. The game preview will post at 1 p.m. CT.