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May 2009 Archives

Finding their rhythm

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As I write this Sunday night, the Cubs are losing early 6-0, but I'm going to ignore that and say their crisp 7-0 victory of the Dodgers on Saturday afternoon was a great demonstration of a team finding their rhythm.

The Cubs scored 7 runs on 10 hits, scoring on singles, extra base hits, walks, and one homer by Reed Johnson. They did waste a couple of baserunners, and probably should have had more like 10 runs, but they used patience and textbook contact hitting to get other runners home. Ryan Dempster pitched 7 shutout innings and the bullpen was airtight--and don't forget this game was against the best team in the MLB right now.

Milton Bradley was 3-4 for his biggest hit output as a Cub thus far in Wrigley. Johnson continued is hot hitting with a 3-3 outing, and Mike Fontenot continued working his way back from a slump with a 2-3 effort, including a run-scoring doubel and triple. The more even hitting throughout the line-up, combined with ongoing great pitching from the starters looks to me like a sign of good things to come.

The White Sox have been finding their own rhythm, winning with 9th inning runs both Saturday and Sunday against Kansas City, and finishing their first series sweep in ages. Saturday's 5-3 win came after Mark Buerhle pitched quite well, but just not well enough to survive the 8th inning, before the real action began. Old-is-new-again lead-off man Scott Podsednik singled home a run to break a 3-3 tie and Alexei Ramirez added an insurance run on a follow-up single.

Pods factored in another 9th inning rally Sunday as the Sox this time picked up 3 runs in the 9th to break a 4-4 tie, eventually winning 7-4. This time, Chris Getz single in 2 runs and Pods singled home the final insurance run. Bobby Jenks saved both games.

The real story with Sunday's game, however, was that the Sox beat--and beat up on--Zack Greinke, who has been beating everyone this year while giving up less than a run per 9 innings. The Sox scored 4 runs, 3 earned, off of him Sunday by twice getting 2-0ut run-scoring hits, and general pushing Greinke deep into counts. Pretty impressive stuff against the A.L.'s best pitcher this year.

Only good thoughts

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The Cubs won 2-1 over the Dodgers Friday, and I guess I had become so accustomed to all-or-absolutely-nothing offensive efforts, I had no idea that the Cubs had not won game while scoring less than four runs since last Sept. 11 (according to the Tribune).

The Cubs managed hits Friday, though not with runners in scoring position, as has been the problem of late. But, they did get just enough from a Koyie Hill solo homer and a bases -loaded sac fly from Kosuke Fukudome for the vcitory. Another very strong pitching performance, this time from Ted Lilly, kept the Cubs in the game.

The Cubs are now 3-1 since their 8-game losing streal ended and are winning for the month, 14-12 with two games to go. While stars and core line-up goes continue to gradually--very gradually--come back from slumps and injuries, guys like Hill, Bobby Scales (though he had a scary 9th inning error Friday), Micah Hoffpauir and Jake Fox are stepping up and doing just enough. More good news: The Gatorade machine survives another day. And, we're getting closer and closer to the return of Aramis Ramirez.

The White Sox, meanwhile, actually won in Kansas City, a feat that was starting to seem as hard as winning in Minnesota. After pounding K.C. 11-3 Friday night with a great pitching performance by Clayton Richard, the Sox also are 3-1 in their last four games, and 5-2 since the 20-1 demolishing at the hands of the Twinkies last week. Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko, Alexei Ramirez and Josh Fields each had 2 RBIs in this one.

May has not been as good to the Sox: They have an 11-15 record for the month headed into Saturday night's game, though if you ask anyone in Chicago who is in better shape right night, almost anyone would say the Sox. Both teams are in fourth place in their divisions, and the Sox have a losing record, but it's the Cubs who have more work to do, and a taller mountain to climb comeptition-wise.

The last bit of probably good news for the Sox is that they traded Lance Broadway (who was no longer impressing anyone despite past first-rounder status) to the Mets for catcher Ramon Castro and designated catcher Corky Miller for assignment. Castro is probably an offensive step up from Miller and is an Ozzie guy, having been in Florida when Oz was coaching for the Marlins (the Cub fan side of me will acknowledge no further details about teh Marlins during that period).

Dodger bait

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The Cubs couldn't quite write the storybook comeback against the L.A. Dodgers Thursday night. It would have been a nice way to sooth a few of the bad memories of the NLDS fiasco last October--if not erase them. But, despite a good set-up for a would-be bottom 9th rally--the bases loaded and 1 out with a minor league underdog (Bobby Scales) and a minor league superstar (Jake Fox) due up--the Cubs' effort fizzled. Final score: 2-1

Even the bottom 8th had been set up well for a rally, with Scales hitting a pinch-hit homer, Fox smacking a pinch single and Kosuke Fukudome drawing a pinch walk before any outs were recorded. But, slumping Alfonso Soriano whiffed and Ryan Theriot hit into a double play.

The Cubs continue to have trouble scoring runs despite great pitching efforts, this one a gutsy performance by Randy Wells, who seems to have a veterans knack for minimizing damage, but has been victimized in every one of his outings by like of run support from his own squad.

Things don't get easier today with Chad Billingsley facing dugout-jumper Ted Lilly. The Dodgers have been scoring a lot of runs this year, even without Manny Ramirez, and it's because they do a lot of little things right while hitting smart and running the bases pretty aggressively. The Cubs could take a few lessons from the Dodgers before they leave town, hopefully with a three-game losing streak.

Athlete's foot

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Carlos Quentin has plantar fasciitis (two "i"s, according to Yahoo! Sports), which Bulls fans may remember pretty much derailed Andres Nocioni's career playing basketball in Chicago. By all accounts, it's a heinous condition that is either addressed by surgery and a very long lay-off, or by playing through the pain until something "pops," as it did with CQ. Unfortunately, this also involves a long lay-off.

When Quentin came to town, he had promise, but also injury problems. First, we saw the promise being fulfilled, and since late last season, the injury part has taken over. Is it too early to wonder if he will ever hit more than 30 homeruns again? Probably, but for now, his time out of the line-up means one less power option for the Sox and the loss of a pretty effective No. 3 hitter. It looks like Jermaine Dye will fill the slot for the most part.

JeDye has been doing OK, hitting around .280. Paul Konerko is the only regular in the line-up now who is still hitting over .300, which is surprising, considering he looked to be entering gradual career breakdown last year. Last night against the Angels, he was responsible for driving in the Sox' only run with a sacrifice fly (scoring Dye).

Pitching continues to be the real story for the Sox: Gavin Floyd turned in his second straight strong performance and the latest in a string of strong performances, as Sox starters haven't given up more than 3 ER in a game since May 17, when Floyd got shelled for 6 ER in 5 IP. Floyd lost this one 3-1, only making a couple of mistakes, both run-scoring double in the 6th inning. He threw a complete game.

With Quentin gone for a while and the offense rarely piling up runs like the 17-run effort in Anaheim this week, the Sox will need more of the same from the rest of the rotation.

Crazy Zammy is back

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Carlos "Big Z" Zambrano's crazy alter ego Zammy made an appearance Wednesday after a run-scoring wild pitch in which Zambrano thought he had tagged the runner out (Upon repeated viewings, it looked like it could have gone either way). Zammy screamed at the home plate ump, bumped him, tossed the ump from the game (figuratively speaking), threw the ball (still in his hand) out toward the ivy, threw his glove against the dugout fence (the same fence Ted Lilly leaped over this week to argue with an ump), and took a bat the th esame Gatorade machine that Ryan Dempster punched out this week.

It's entertaining stuff and would be more so if the performance wasn't going to cost Zambrano and the Cubs at least one outing at a time when they are a starter low.

I've said it before: Zambrano is a big baby, and it's all too clear that this very talented pitcher has pissed away numerous games throughout his career because he's in love with his own emotional act. I honestly think Zammy could tone it down at this point, but doesn't want to. There was something vaguely practiced and expected about this most recent tantrum, and it's unnecessary.

The Cubs went on (after the wild pitch left the score 2-2) to win 5-2, but no thanks to Zambrano. Reed Johnson was the hero with a great catch against the ivy in center field, and a homerun to gove the Cubs a 3-2 lead. Minor league Triple Crown stud Jake Fox also got called up and had a pinch-hit, run-scoring double, though regardless of how big a star Fox becomes, no one will remember this game for either his or Johnson's effort.

Can't win situation

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The Cubs tumbled to their eighth loss in a row by inventing a new way to lose. This time, in a 10-8 loss, the pitching was the culprit and the offense was almost good enough to survive--almost.

The Cubs collected plenty of hits and what should have been plenty of runs. They got strong performances from player who were either still mired in slumps (Milton Bradley, Geovany Soto) or had dropped off from strong starts (Ryan Theriot). But, poor pitching by Ryan Dempster, Neal Cotts and Aaron Heilman and a 6-6 performance by the Pirates' Freddy Sanchez was too much too overcome.

Some game reports today are wondering aloud when Lou Pinela will lose his cool. Unfortunately, he's already lost it out and not much has changed. Will seeing Lou wobble out on the field to yell at an umpire change anything now? Usually, I'll advocate that approach just because I think it helps press a reset button for players who can't seem to find their own edge. The trouble is that this Cubs team has done plenty of its own complaining already, courtesy of Bradley's dissing of umpires. Though I've wanted to see Ozzie get a little more excited on the Southside and maybe shake up a game by leaving the dugout now and then, I'm a little afraid the approach could backfire for the Cubs and give the umps more of a chip on their shoulder when they come into Wrigley Field.

The Cubs fell under .500, though at 21-22, things could still be worse. Last night's game was the rare poor pitching outing for the Cubs staff, and that shouldn't continue to be a problem. We'll see in the next few games if Bradley and Soto have really found themselves. That will be a start.

24 good reasons for 17 runs

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The Sox won two of three with strong pitching and just enough offense in the right spots before they left for one of those nerve-racking West Coast road trips (albeit a quick one, to play the Angels). Generally speaking, the Sox have had a ton of offensive trouble this year, and the Angels have put together some strong pitching outings.

What a surprise then to see the Sox explode for 17 runs on 24 hits. The Sox only had four walks, but it was more impressive the way the attacked pitches down the center of the plate before the Angels pitchers could really establish themselves. Patience certainly is a virtue at the plate, but it's also nice to see batters so confident and so unwilling to let an opponent settle in that they attack the ball.

Scott Podsednik continued to hang tough, with a 4-5 outing, and Alexei "The Missile" Ramirez may finally be airborne, going 4-7 with another all-around strong game that raised his average to .243. Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko were the predictable homer contributors. John Danks pitched well enough for the second game in a row, though he had an unsightly 6 walks, but there wasn't much he could do to lose this one.

The only bad moment in this game was a big one, when Carlos Quentin pulled up lame legging out a double, his nagging foot injury suddenly terribly worse--he had to be helped off the field. The Sox have been missing C.Q.'s bat most of the year, and even when he's been in, he's been off. Looks like Pods will be getting more PT, which is still a good thing, but for how long?

Looking for the bottom

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The Cubs have lost seven straight, their worst run since the bloody awful season of 2006. The culprit is the anemic offense, which has been a problem all season, but now the slumps and injuries that were affecting a few players in April have spread to the whole team like--wait for it--swine flu.

The best hitter on the team, Kosuke Fukudome, has cooled off, though he continues to look sharper than last season by drawing walks even when he's not hitting. Ryan Theriot lost touch with his brief power surge and isn't scratching out multi-hit games like last year, and Alfonso Soriano has faded after a strong start. Derrek Lee, Geovany Soto and Milton Bradley have shown glimpses of promise, but mostly remain mired in the doldrums that have affected them since Opening Day. Aramis Ramirez remains on the sidelines and Mike Fontenot, perhaps feeling the pressure of being a multi-position starter, has all but lost his job. Don't even get me started on Aaron Miles.

When Lou Piniella is talking about moving Al-So to second base, you know your troubles have almost hit bottom. But, have they hit bottom yet? We may find out when Pittsburgh hits town tomorrow, a brief respite for the Cubs between the hot-running opponents of the last week (Cardinals and Padres) and a face-off vs. 2008 postseason nemesis the Dodgers, who are 2009's best MLB team thus far. Yet, while the Cubs have recently faced teams who were playing very good baseball, the losing streak is undoubtedly of their own making. Pitching has been at least adequate and often very good in the last seven games. The most startling offensive stat: The Cubs have no walks in their last two games.

How long can it go on, and could hitting coach Gerald Perry be the fall guy, if the Cubs continue to play far below the unreasonably high expectation we have come to have for them? Perry's greatest accomplishment has been getting hitters to be more patient about begging off pitches away from the center of the plate. But, suddenly, the player have forgotten the lesson they seemed to learn so well last season.

The fans are getting pretty agitated and will be more so if the Cubs fail to win a couple against Pittsburgh. There's already quite a bit of grumbling about the Bradley signing being a bust, and the delicate relationship between him and the fans could be nearing a breaking point. I don't think moving Soriano is the answer, and I'd actually rather see D-Lee sit to get Micah Hoffpauir in the line-up. I have to credit Lou for experimenting with the line-up, but nothing seems to be working. Perhaps a visit from minor league stud Jake Fox is in order. The only other thing to really look forward to, short of the current line-up wking up, is the return of Aramis Ramirez, which as probably at least a month away.

No Peavy, just Peaved

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Looks like Jake Peavy won't be coming to the Southside (or the Northside, at least for now), so the White Sox are left only wwith the public embarrassment of having traded for a guy who wasn't interested in being traded to them. Shouldn't that part get figured out before the deal is actually made? Did they think Peavy would bend their way if all the paperwork was prepared?

It may not seem like a relief now, but I think by later this season or certainly next, the Sox will be very happy they didn't ship Clayton Richard and Aaron Poreda out of town for Peavy. And, I remain convinced until proven wrong that Peavy doesn't have much backbone for pitching in anyone's small park.

Unfortuantely, the Sox pitching staff did nothing yesterday but show that they desparately need help, getting pounded 20-1 by the Piranhas, who did not nip away at the Sox so much as they ate them whole.

Peavy headed to southside?

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In a potentially shocking move, San Diego stud Jake Peavy could be headed to the Southside in a major trade, acoording to multiple reports. The shocking aspects are numerous: It was the Cubs who since before spring training were rumored to be the team closest to a Peavy, and there has been speculation that deal still might happen as the season and the Cubs sale unfolded.

The reports suggest Peavy may be concrned about picthing for Ozzie, which is ironic because this year Ozzie has been pretty lenient with his pitchers, letting Contreras get booed out of multiple games and failing to light a fire under slumping Gavin Floyd and John Danks. Personally, if I was Peavy, I would be more concerned about pitching in the little league park that is U.S. Cellular Field after having a good run in San Diego's Petco Park, one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks around.

It's not clear the trade will actually happen, but if it does, you have to wonder who and how many the Sox are giving up. Where exactly can the afford to shed bodies right now?

And, I wonder how stunned Jim Hendry is...

Slump buster

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I returned from vacation just in time to see my pick for 2009 White Sox MVP thus far--Mark Buehrle--pitch another gem and break a six-game Sox losing streak. The Sox beat the dread Piranhas 6-2 at home, giving Buehrle a 6-1 record and 2.77 ERA.

Buehrle has gotten a bit of luck getting run support from a Sox offense that has been increasingly anemic for his rotation mates, but if it weren't for Buehrle's luck, the Sox would have none at all. Having just been swept in a four-gamer by the Blue Jays (who afre in first place, but still...), it was good to see the Sox come back and take it to their most-hated rival (no, that's not the Cubs in my book).

The Sox still have plenty of problems, with Jose Contreras pitching in the minors to figure himself out, a talent void in center field (Sorry, Pods, but it's no longer 2005), a lingering slump at shortstop (The Missile is still sputtering on the launch-pad), and now downward batting averages at second base and third base as well.

Finally, to my mind, The Great and Powerful Oz seems a bit lost for possible solutions to it all. Injuries have been a problem, as they are for all teams, but this team seems undermotivated. I wonder if a well-timed tantrum by Ozzie could help things out. In his first few seasons at the helm, Ozzie's emotions, and how and when he chose to put them on display, were a key ingredient to the Sox' success. It's been a tough year all around, but at 16-22 and with the Tigers and Royals playing better ball than expected so far, I would like to see Ozzie step up and step out of the dugout a little more frequently, even if--and particularly if--it's intended to get a rise out of his own players.

Say it ain't so, Jose

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The White Sox dropped Jose Contreras from the starting rotation after another horrible outing Friday night in which he gave up 5 runs (3 ER) in 3-2/3 IP to the Rangers, who stomped on the Sox 6-0. Contreras is now 0-5, and is painful to watch as he struggles to throw strikes. He piled up 81 pitches last night.

I was at the game, and when he finally exited, he was met with a loud chorus of boos, but also screams that he should get out of town, and that he should go have sex with himself (in far more colorful language, of course). To my mind, everyone was being a bit harsh to a guy who not only helped win a World Series, but alos has proven himself capable of coming back from losing streaks and turning them into winning streaks.

Contreras definitely has problems, and it now seems likely maybe he should have com back more gradually from injury, if only to give him more time to work out what seem like mechanical kinks. Still, I don't think we have heard the last of him.

At 13-15, the Sox definitely need help. Contreras isn't only pitcher having problems, and offense has been inconsistent as well. Alexei Ramirez was neched for a while this week, and previouslt hot hitters like Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin and Chris Getz have been cooling off. Ozzie Guillen has been tremendously patient so far this year, but I have to think he's about ready to blow off some steam, perhaps in an on-field rant after a questionable call, something that may serve to wake up his slumbering Sox.

The year of the injury

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What's a good way to ruin the positive vibes brought on by winning 6 of 7? Losing 3-2 to Milwaukee after being up 2-0 is a nice start, but watching your main RBI man dislocate his shoulder and head to the deal for 4-6 weeks finishes the job.

Aramis Ramirez was injured for the second time already in this young season, and this time it was a doozy: He dislocated his shoulder diving for a line drive and proceeded to roll around on the ground in tremendous pain.

One of the keys to success is avpiding big injuries to key players, and while Alfonso Soriano was injured during parts of the last few seasons, the Cubs seemed to have bats to spare. Not so this year, and in addition to A-Ram's injury, obviously the worst this season, we still have Derrek Lee and Geovany Soto battling chronic pain, Carlos Zambrano out briefly with a pulled hammy, Carlos Marmol have recovered from a sprained knee that looked bad when it happened and Kevin Gregg possibly having some sort of pccasional stiffness.

The Cubs have let two division titles go by without winning a play-off game, and perhaps the nature of the sport is catching up with them a little. But, it's still early--we're going to say that until at least the All-Star break.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee's win tonight gave them sole possesion of second place in back of the Cardinals, and the Brewers have been looking very strong lately, so the Cubs need to hang around regardless of who gets hurt. Tonight, Randy Wells, just up from the minors, kept them in the game and left with a 2-0 lead after only 84 pitches. Wells pitched well in spring training, and the way the bullpen has been going, blowing the game for him tonight, maybe Wells has a chance of sticking around for some relief duty after Zambrano gets healthy (Jeff Samardzija was already shipped out for being ineffective in his brief call-up, so the pen spot is there for the taking.)

Another bit of news: The Joey Gathright Era has ended. He was traded to favored trade partner Baltimore for versatile, speedy Ryan Freel. With A-Ram out, the timing could be good for Freel to get some starts, since he has played plenty of third base in the past. Freel, like Gathright, has had strong moments in a career that has never quite fulfilled its promise. He can still steal a base, but he's older than Gathright, and, uh-oh, kind of injury prone (He already missed time this year after getting hit in the head with a pick-off throw.) Oh well, if he does any better than Gathright's 3-14, he'll be worth the paperwork.

Mighty K.C.

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The Sox have lost two in a row in Kansas City and four in a row overall. With the struggling Jose Contreras set to take the mound Wednesday night, I'm not feeling confident about their chances to bust the losing streak.

With the exception of a 3-0 loss to 2009 Cy Young Award Winner Zack Greinke the other night (What? You say they haven't given him the Cy Young yet?), the problems have been mostly in the pitching department. Last night, gavin Floyd let another lead get away from him after the Sox put him ahead 4-1 early on. Things actually looked pretty good in the early going because the Sox managed to hit well off Kyle Davies, the K.C. pitcher who previously has mystified them.

But, Floyd eventually let 6 runs go to waste before departing, and Matt Thornton and Octavio Dotel helped the Royals to a 7th run as this one went into extras 7-7. The Royals won 8-7 in 11 innings. No, K.C. is not the whimpering mess it once was, and the Sox are now 1-4 this season against the Royals. The worst stat from Wednesday night's game was a woeful 11 walks issued by Sox pitchers.

The Sox actually out-hit K.C. 16-11, so maybe they should have come up with a few more runs. Jermain Dye and Josh Field both homered, A.J. Pierzynski was 4-5, Carlos Quentin was 3-5, and Scott Podsednik had 2 RBIs, but as a team, the Sox left 13 men on base.

Still, I find pitching more troubling right now, as the bullpen has begun to weaken, and Contreras, Floyd and even John Danks have strung together a series of poor outings. Who thought at the start of the season that Bartolo Colon would be the second-most effective pitcher on the Sox after Mark Buehrle. Giving Contreras a breather might not be a bad idea, especially with Aaron Poreda picthing well in the minors, but Ozzie Guillen seems resolved to let Contreras find his old self while hacking his way through meaningful games.

Yes, it is still early, but K.C. is in 1st place, and we don't want them to get used to it.

Better off with Ted

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The Bulls haave lost and are out of the play-offs, the White Sox are in Texas losing 9-1 in a game interminably delayed by rain, so alll Cubs for this post. And the Cubs actually got a win today that seemed easy, a rare thing this year. They beat the Marlins 6-1 behind a very strong performance from Ted Lilly (8 IP, 1 ER, 10 Ks, 0 BBs).

It seems easy partly because the Cubs scored early and often, but also because they didn't dip until the bullpen until the 9th inning, and neither Lilly nor Aaron Heilman, who pitched the 9th, yielded a walk--the stat category that has been the source of many problems for Cubs pitchers this year.

Lilly also helped himself with a rare (very rare) 2-run double on what was described on ESPN as a "softball swing." Let's put it this way: He was lucky the Marlins pitcher hit his bat. The other offensive blows came from Ryan Theriot, who homered for the second day in a row, Derrek Lee, who finally got his second homer of the year, and Mike Fontenot, who singled in a run. Things really seemed to click today, as every started except Kosuke Fukudome had a hit, and he still was active with 2 BBs and 2 SBs. Whatever the Cubs ate for breakfast, they shoulod have it again tomorrow, as they go for their second three-game winning streak of the season.

Scotty Pods is back

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Scott Podsednik is back in black. After a brief stop in the minors the White Sox called him up (and sent down Jerry Owens) for what likely will be the swan song to Scotty Pods' career. The only question: How long will it last?

If tonight is any indication, Pods is feeling comfortable with the organization which he helped drive to World Series Championship glory back in 2005. He was 2-4 with an infield hit, and caused enough havoc on the basepaths to draw a balk. He also had a nice hit-and-run on his second hit.

Who know how long it will last, but with Owens shipped and Brian Anderson injured, we're likely to see more of Pods in the days to come.

The Sox won, by the way, 4-3, behind gutsy pitching from Mark Buehrle against the team he no-hit last April, the Texas Rangers. But, tonight was almost as impressive, as Buehrle held the Rangers to 3 runs in a park that usually yields many more.

Jim Thome had a bases-loaded double to score 3 of the Sox' 4 runs, and Chris Getz tripled to score Podsednik in the 7th inning immediately after the balk brough him to 2nd base.

The-Riot delivers some chaos

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"You can't quiet The-Riot."--Slogan on T-Shirt seen outside of Wrigley Field.

Other than the resurgence of Kosuke Fukudome and the more patient hitting of Alfonso Soriano, the one thing a slumping Cubs offense has been able to count on this year is Ryan Theriot, who always manages to get a hit or two.

Well, today he had the unexpectedly big hit, a grand slam that rallied the Cubs from a 5-2 deficit against the Marlins, and that re-awakened Wrigley fans from their grumpy drunkeness. It was Theriot's first career grand slam, and it could happen to a more deserving guy, who even when he's not hitting manages to force pitchers to burn their arms by going deep into counts.

The Cubs eventually won 8-6 in a game in which Rich Harden started poorly and only got worse, lasting 3.2 IP with 5 ERs and only 2 Ks against 4 BBs. There were a couple signs of resurgent offense in this one (though we thought that was the case the other night in Arizona, too--we'll see if it sticks). Most notably, beyond Theriot's blast and a couple of timely walks drawn by the Cubs, two slumping Cubs came alive, Derrek Lee was 2-4 and Geovany Soto was 2-3 with an RBI.

The bullpen was sufficient in this one, with closer Kevin Gregg yielding the only Marlins run after Harden left the game. Still, Carlos Marmol was shaky for the second straight game, walking 2 to open the 8th inning, but battling back to strikeout the side. Neal Cotts was pleasantly unsucky, giving up a walk but striking out 2 in his scoreless inning on the mound. Still, the bullpen walked 5 men total, which ain't good even if only one run scored in 5-1/3 of work.

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