Rich Harden throwing a pitch, from my point of view. There aren't many poles at Wrigley, but I found one of them.
Carlos Lee, playing slugger Ryan Theriot quite deep. Theriot immediately validated Lee's positioning by driving one to the warning track in left center for a double. Lee taunted fans in the bottom of the first, then did so again later in the game by faking as if to throw a ball into the bleachers, only to hang on to it. I guess when you bat .300 against a team lifetime with 28 HR, you get a little cocky.
One of the best signs Miller Lite has produced to date. A direct response, of course, to the madness seen in the first video on this page.
With a rainout Friday and an off day Monday, I'm not sure why Piniella went with Jose Ascanio and Neal Cotts out of the 'pen in a 4-3 game. Ascanio hit two batters with his first two pitches, then followed that up by allowing a single and throwing a wild pitch. The 4-3 score quickly became 6-3, and though Cotts threw a scoreless frame and the Cubs scored two in the bottom of the ninth, Soto's liner with runners at first and second went right to the third baseman, and the rally fell short. I suppose you have to use relievers other than Guzman, Marmol and Gregg every now and then, but with two off days out of four, I'm not sure this was the day to do it.
That said, the offense wasted some great opportunities to tack on runs, including having runners at second and third with nobody out in the third and failing to get either runner home. The Cubs stranded six runners in the first four innings. On a positive note, Derrek Lee had a home run and his first four-hit game since 2007.
Rich Harden had a relatively poor start, needing 112 pitches (his highest pitch count of the year) to get through six innings. All four runs he allowed scored in the fourth inning, the first time Harden has allowed four runs in a single inning since 2004 (courtesy of Brian Brennan, who heard the factoid over the radio while in the little boy's room at Wrigley Field).
One unfortunate aspect of the game (other than the fact that the Cubs lost): the weather! "The weather?" you ask. "Wasn't it sunny and pleasant?" If you were in the bleachers or anywhere near sea level, yes it was. But if you were in the shade in the upper deck at Wrigley Field, no it wasn't. The wind was blowing and some of us were wishing we had more than just a few layers on. It's the middle of May! Upper deck or not, I should not have to worry about layers in mid-May. When I return to Wrigley in a month, it better be at least 75 degrees.
The Cubs will head to St. Louis for the second time this season starting Tuesday. The pitching matchups:
Tuesday: Lilly (5-2, 3.27) vs. Pineiro (4-3, 4.17)
Wednesday: Dempster (3-2, 4.65) vs. Carpenter (1-0, 0.00)
Thursday: Marshall (2-2, 4.02) vs. Wainwright (3-2, 3.83)
As you can see, the Cardinals expect Chris Carpenter to return from the DL for this series. They also hope to have Rick Ankiel back.
The Cardinals are as cold as the above picture of Wrigley Field. They lost two of three to Cincinnati, two of three to Pittsburgh, and then got swept in a three-game series by the Brewers (they were spared a four-game sweep because of a rainout Friday). Yesterday marked the first time in six games that the Redbirds had scored more than two runs--they scored four.
Ted Lilly has won his last three starts, going at least six innings in each start. He has not yet faced the Cardinals in '09, but is 6-2 lifetime against them. Joel Pineiro has lost each of his three May starts, and has not faced the Cubs this season.
Ryan Dempster faced the Cardinals twice within a week back in April--he pitched six innings in each start, allowing four and three runs, respectively. He got a no decision in each start. Chris Carpenter left after three innings in just his second start of the year. In his career against the Cubs, he is 7-3 with a 3.08 ERA.
Sean Marshall might be pitching to stay in the rotation (see yesterday's post). He will be facing Adam Wainwright for the second time this season; on April 16, he went five innings and allowed three earned runs in a game the Cardinals won 7-4. Good news for both Marshall and Lilly: the Cardinals are batting just .227 versus lefties. Wainwright hasn't won since April, but beat the Cubs back on April 16 and allowed just one earned run over seven innings in a 4-3 Cubs win on April 24.
One other note: Khalil Greene has been benched by Tony La Russa. His .204 average wasn't getting it done, and the Cardinals are opting for another Greene instead, rookie Tyler Greene.
Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks is out for the year (wrist). This is a significant blow to the first-place Brewers--Weeks was batting .272 with nine home runs and 24 RBI, and his backup is 38-year-old Craig Counsell.
Quote of the Day
Reed Johnson, commenting on the steroid "speculation" surrounding Ryan Theriot:
"Theriot's thing is hamburgers. He eats a lot of Drumsticks. Have you seen those ice cream things? I've seen him eat French toast. I just follow him around and try to eat whatever he eats. He'll occasionally take his shirt off and go in the weight room but he just works beach muscles. It's not functional stuff that would help you on the baseball field. He goes in there and does bi's and tri's and chest, and then checks out his spray tan in the mirror."