Thursday, September 11th, 2008
I’ll start off tonight’s diary with the thought that I hope the rain in St. Louis holds off so we can get this game in. I do, however, reserve the right to change my opinion and pray for rain if things go sour.There’s been a lot of chatter about Ted Lilly’s home plate dust up last night. Was it irresponsible? Was it reckless? Was it cool? I think it might have signaled a sea change in the Cubs attitude of the past few weeks. Lou Piniella warned about how a complacent attitude would ultimately lead to defeat. The mindset of “don’t take any risks, don’t get injured” had maybe crept in and contributed to the lack of fire recently. So yeah, Lilly was taking a risk, but that’s what we needed. Turns out Lilly came through the collision just fine, and Molina got hurt. Lilly’s aggressive attitude is what was required. That’s what got us here, and that’s the only thing that’s gonna keep us here (in first place), At least that’s how I see it.
As far as tonight goes, I expect Rich Harden to come out blazing. And, gee, it looks like Soriano came out blazing, too, starting the game with a lead off double. But the Cubs come up empty after the first two batters get on (1st & 3rd).
This brings us to the discussion about sacrifice bunting vs. no sacrifice bunting. It seems that quite a few baseball fans have strong opinions about this topic. I’m gonna defer to those of a higher pay grade, like Lou Piniella or Tony LaRussa, and, of course, all the commenters at this site, as to whether the sac bunt is “good” baseball of “bad”.
My feeling is that whatever works is “good” baseball. If the sac bunt advances the base runner at the cost of one out, the question is: is that result better of worse than what would have occurred otherwise? Better than a double play? Yep. Better than a strikeout (which Dee Lee just did)? Yep. Better than a two run homer? Nope. Better than a run scoring triple? Nope. But in some situations it’s fairly predictable with no catastrophic downside.
Bottom line, I guess I’d think of the sacrifice bunt as just one more weapon in the arsenal, to be used when called for.
And oh, by the way, the Cubs have stranded 4 runners on base in the first 2 innings. While scoring none. That’s not catastrophic, but it’s surely not desirable.
Albert Pujols just grounded out to ARam after swinging at a 3-0 pitch. How do you folks feel about swinging on 3-0? What about the pitcher automatically “wasting” one on 0-2? Are these valid tactics? Counterproductive?
We’re reminded of the date today, September 11th. I recall that seven years ago, on September 10th, 2001, my dad & I were at Wrigley Field for a night game. That was my first night game at Wrigley. We’re both kinda hazy on who played and who won. I think it was the Brewers, and I think the Cubs won, but in all the 9/11 excitement, I just can’t remember.
I had retired just 6 months earlier, after 20 years traveling the world on active duty in the US military. My dad & I had spent many summer afternoons together at Wrigley during the 50’s & 60’s, and being retired gave us the time to renew that pattern. So I guess you could say that I spent the last night on Earth before the World changed, with my dad at Wrigley Field. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Back to the game. I congratulate the Cubs on the tactic they used to advance Soto to scoring position in the 5th with no outs. Reed Johnson hit a grounder to Pujols, but instead of turning a double play, Pujols flubbed it. Runners on 1st & 2nd with no outs. Harden is up. Now do you bunt? A wild pitch advances the runners to 2nd & 3rd, which the attempted bunt failed to do. Like I said, whatever works. Now Soriano and Theriot walk, forcing in a run. Whatever works. The Cubbies get 2 runs and strand 2 base runners in the inning. Repeat: They stranded 2 base runners. Not catastrophic, but not desireable either. Should I pray that the rain picks up, or that it stops?
We have completed 5 full innings now, so the game is official. Cubs lead 2-0, but it appears the Umpires are going to let the game continue. I’d feel better with 10 more insurance runs (IFBWTMIR). Have I said that before?
The Cubs, in the top of the 6th, are demonstrating an alternate method for advancing the base runner: back to back doubles. Works for me. Cubs lead 3-0.
Oops! Bottom of the 7th, score 3-2, LaRussa calls for sac bunt to move tying run to 2nd with no outs. One out. Two outs. Three outs. No runs. The Cards ran out of chances (outs).
Here’s a dumb question for you: Since when do the Cardinals wear blue hats? I been away.
Cubs are displaying some world class defensive plays in the bottom of the 8th.
Into the 9th inning. IWFBWTMIR. Cubs strand 2 runners in the 9th. No runs scored. This is turning into a real nail biter.
Cards open their 9th with a double, just like the Cubs did. Cards try the sac bunt. Cubs get the lead runner at third. Too bad, soooo sad!! How about a double play? OK, we get a K instead. 2 out. Pujols is up. Do you pitch to him? Put him on to load the bases? I say pop him up.
Unbelievable! Cubs win 3-2 to start a 2 game win streak! (Cards strand 2 runners and score none in the inning.)
Now we head back home up Route 66 to rest and get ready for the last 16 games (or so) of this remarkable season.
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