August 18th, 2007
| W – S. Marshall (6-6) L – A. Reyes (2-12) S – R. Dempster (19)
Homeruns: J. Encarnacion (8) B. Ryan (4) A. Pujols (27) D. Ward (1)
Due to their win yesterday the Cubs entered today’s game with sole possession of first place for the first time in a long time. With the win in game one of the series the Cubs accomplished a few things other than jumping in front of the Brewers. They cooled off the surging Cardinals and extended their lead over them to three full games. They also won the first game of this series, which on paper looked like a probable loss facing Braden Looper who has been very strong against the Cubs and seemingly unbeatable in day games. That puts the Cubs in position to do real good things this weekend and amazing things if Sean Marshall could do the job today…with Big Z throwing Sunday and Lilly throwing on Monday.
This weekend was also the air and water show in Chicago which means that fighter jets will buzz Wrigley Field numerous times during the weekend causing batters, umps, and hitters ducking and covering. This is usually humorous except for the time that Steve Trachsel was pitching for the Cubs and had a strike three called back because the hitter was too frightened to swing. Trachsel who had been in control of the game, had a melt down and gave up run after run in a Cubs loss.
When Trachsel was pitching for the Cubs he often took criticism for pitching and working too slowly. Sean Marshall is cut from the same cloth. He takes a long time to work and especially so if he gets into trouble.
As Joe mentioned in the preview today’s game presented us an interesting (In the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog eating contest…disgustingly intriguing sort of way) pitching match up. Sean Marshall has been unreliable and sometimes really bad in recent outings only pitching 13 innings in his last three games. His opponent was Anthony Reyes. The winner of World Series game 1 last year started this year at 0 and 10. He was sent down to the minors and has been pretty good since his return.
Interesting (Maybe) Preliminaries
Jacque Jones has been hitting .360 since the All Star break with 26 RBI. Lee and Ramirez have 12 RBI COMBINED.
Albert Pujols has a .659 slugging percentage since the All Star break. I have heard it said that great hitters seem to bat more than one time in the line up. I often find myself counting innings ahead to see when Pujols is due up again and what situation he might be hitting in.
Can we stop hearing about the brilliance of Tony LaRussa for batting his pitcher eighth? If this were some great idea people would have been doing it for years. In the game today the Cardinals had runners at first and second with one out in the second and the pitcher Anthony Reyes due up in the eighth spot. The announcers Matt Vasgersian and Joe Girardi talked about how LaRussa’s strategy worked great because this was a perfect sacrifice situation. But this meant that a true hitter would now bat with two outs instead of one. Even though one runner would have moved into scoring position it does not make up for the lost out. With good hitters failing seven out of ten times, you would rather have a true hitter batting with one out rather than two.
When the lineups were finally announced after the rain delay they were announced by representatives of the teams, which is how FOX often does it. However, this time a bat boy for the Cardinals announced their team and Jimmy Farell the retiring Wrigley Field umpire’s room attendant announced the Cubs. While Jimmy Fallon or Will Ferrell would have been entertaining…Jimmy Farell was not. Farell mispronounced Ryan Theriot’s name (Tear EE OTT) as well as Jason Kendall (Ken DELL). Attaboy Jimmy!!! You must have learned from Lou who calls our left handed reliever “Steve Eyre.”
Rain Delay 1
I thought there would be two redeeming aspects of this rain delay. First, being able to see Roger Clemens pitch a little. Second, to hear some of Joe Buck calling a game. (There probably is a little manly sports related infatuation with Joe Buck since he called both the World Series and Super Bowl by the time he was 35). I enjoy hearing Joe Buck because I think he calls a great game, his success is not merely due to nepotism. Sadly, Joe was not there because he announced a football game last night.
I figured we would have Dick “Adolpho Soriano” Stockton calling our game but instead we got Matt Vasgersian and Joe Girardi. Pretty bad. Vasgersian might be remembered for being in the Padres booth for Rick Sutcliffe’s drunken rant a few years ago. (If you can find this on youtube check it out.) Sutcliffe was invited to return to the Padres booth, where he used to work with Vasgersian, for a half inning. Sutcliffe was so out of it that he began commenting on the fact that Vasgersian had been rumored for many jobs over the previous off season. “Matty. Whaddya still doing in San Diegooo?” One of the jobs that Vasgersian was up for was following Chip Caray into the Cubs booth. He was one of the final candidates…and thank goodness they chose Len Kasper.
(By the way Steve Stone worked with Hawk Harrelson on White Sox broadcasts last week. There are rumors that the Sox might be interested in hiring Steve Stone and moving Darrin Jackson to the radio booth. Stone and Hawk got stellar reviews.)
Vasgersian will always be remembered for being on one of the two primary announce teams for the XFL. How legitimate was the XFL? The two main announce teams were comprised of Vasgersian teamed with Jesse “The Body” Ventura and Jim Ross teamed with Jerry “The King” Lawler. Three wrestlers/ wrestling announcers and Vasgersian. While I would guess that Matt does not like that this is on his resume he had some great XFL type commentary when Daryle Ward hit is grand slam in the third inning. Vasgersian called it “A Chicago Style Salami”. Dirty jokes aside…commentary at its’ worst.
The team also went on to opine that the crowd’s excited response to the grand slam was partially due to their understanding that Ward was playing in place of Cliff Floyd who attended his father’s funeral this morning. Heartwarming but probably false.
(On a real side note I was saddened to hear that “Adolpho” Stockton has been replaced by Kenny Albert on FOX NFL’s “B” team. The Bears get the “B” team a lot because the “A” team is often at NFC East games. I don’t love Stockton, but Kenny Albert does not speak “big game” to me.)
The Two Innings
The Cubs Third
Kendall led off the third with a walk.
Marshall flailed and failed at a sac bunt but Kendall advanced when strike three got away from the catcher Molina.
A big play in the inning came when Jacque Jones beat out a double play ball at first base keeping the inning alive.
Derrek Lee lined a ball into the opposite field scoring the first run. He was 3 for 4 today and hit the ball hard. He should have had a first inning double, but So Taguchi played a quick bounce off the wall and held Lee to a single.
Ramirez who is hitting .349 with runners in scoring position walked the bases loaded.
Just when I was questioning why Lou is batting Ward clean up instead of Murton or Kendall he hits a long fly ball grand slam into the center field bleachers. His first Cub home run. Cue the XFL tryout comments and the Cubs are up 5-0.
The Cardinals Sixth
Marshall began the sixth by walking Pujols. Even though he only had thrown 70 pitches Lou pulled Marshall. 5 inning for Marshall with only one walk, five hits and two solo home runs. I like that Lou pulled him so quick. Marshall seems to fall apart real fast in the fifth or sixth. Today he didn’t have that chance.
Marmol came in and things got weird.
Marmol was erratic and walked Encarnacion.
Rolen came to the plate representing the tying run. He flew out and Pujols advanced on a sac fly.
Then Marmol threw a wild fastball that bounced off the bricks. Kendall made an athletic play to grab the rebound and flip it to Marmol who was covering home making a play on Pujols trying to score. The ball beat Pujols but he clearly slid under the tag. The Cubs got a break and he was called out.
Then I saw a play I have never seen before. Chris Duncan struck out on a pitch that hit him in the thigh. It got by Kendall but Duncan could not advance on a dropped third strike because the ball had hit him.
Inning over. No damage done. Except for those who like watching good baseball.
Rain Delay 2
Bob Howry gave up a solo shot to Pujols in the eighth.
Encarnacion singled and Duncan stepped up representing the tying run again.
Duncan has a lot of power and hits righties hard. The rain came down real fast as the Cubs rushed to warm a leftie as fast as the rain. Howry got to 1-2 on Duncan working the outside corner. He then took his time, drying his hands and walking around the mound until the umps had no other choice than to call out the groundscrew for the second rain delay.
One hour later a warm left handed Carmen Pignatiello throws one curve ball to strike Chris Duncan out looking. Just like you write it up.
The Cards outhit the Cubs 8 to 4.
The Cards hit three homers to the Cubs one.
This was one of those games that the Cubs only scored in one inning and allowed the other team to claw back in it.
But the Cubs only walked two and the home runs were all solo shots.
Remember how great rain delay theater used to be. Reruns of This Week in Baseball and The Baseball Bunch. Today we had to sit through many minutes of Jeanne Zelasco, Kevin Kennedy, and Erik Karros holding court. Long live Mel Allen’s voice!!! How about that !!
STARS OF THE GAME – All based on WPA