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Fickle about Figgins

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As we move a little deeper into off-season action, it might be getting more apparent that neither of our Chicago teams will make a strong case to sign speedy, multi-position free agent lead-off man Chone Figgins.

One school of thought has it that the Cubs won't make a run on Figgins because that already have too much committed salary (around$120 million) for next year, and probably will have to commit even more to re-signing other players who have filed or are expected to file for free agency--Rich Harden, Reed Johnson and John Grabow being some examples. The Tribune reported that Harden and Johnson already filed for free agent status.

I think the Cubs should wave good-bye to both at this point. While Harden is spectacular in short stretches, he doesn't go deep enough in most games. His health issues have lessened, but that makes his 4.00-plus ERA for the 2009 campaign even more troubling. Maybe the Cubs could go after a non-glitzy bottom-rotation known for relaiability, like Joel Piniero, who was great for the Cardinals in '09. As for Grabow, the Cubs need the southpaw in the bullpen.

Johnson has a lot of defensive value and the scrappiness factor that so often defines winning teams, but he is already 32. If the Cubs do unload Milton Bradley and don't sign another outfielder (Jake Fox and Micah Hoffpauir aside), Johnson probably would be worth keeping. I'm back to suspecting the Cubs may keep Bradley, despite the reports of interest in him elsewhere. The Cubs may assume the worst is over with Bradley, though it's hard to believe that until we see it.

The Cubs seem indecisive about offensive contributors/defensive liabilities Fox and Hoffpauir, which make me think we will see another season of spot duty for both, though there is potential that an American League team could make an offer for Fox (a potentially great DH) that the Cubs won't be able to refuse. All of this, plus new owners, suggests no Figgins for the Cubs.

The Sox, meanwhile, might be more interested in giving Jordan Danks an outfield job than spending money on Figgins. I wouldn't mind taking a gamble on Danks (who may feel at home with his brother in the dugout) and keeping the resurgent Scott Podsednik as an insurance policy, but it sounds like the Sox don't have much interest in re-signing Pods (visions of 2006, I guess).

Signing Figgins would end all outfield questions (except whether or not Alex Rios actually will hit next year). But, the Sox might making signing a new DH a higher priority, unless Carlos Quentin moves into that role. though that again would heighten the need to sign a player like Figgins.

Decisions, decisions...

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.

Good luck and lack thereof

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A cat was seen skulking across the field during Tuesday night's Cubs-Reds game, but it wasn't a black cat. A fan was seen leaning over the left field side wall to catch a foul ball, but he wasn't wearing headphones and Moises Alou wasn't playing left field. So, we have no other recourse than to view these curiously familiar situations as good luck for the Cubs rather than bad.

The Cubs themselves may have been disinterested in omens of any kind, since they were busy cruising to a 7-2 victory behind 6-inning maestro Rich Harden. We may rarely see Harden go longer than the 6th inning, since that is usually about the time he closes in on 95 pitches and sets off the dugout alarm system that screams "PULL HIM! PULL HIM!" But, in most cases it's enough too make a huge impact, and he did last night, holding the Reds to 2 runs while striking out 8 batters. Interesting stat I saw on the MLB Network today: Harden currently has more strikeouts--34--in any 25 inning span to start a season than any other pitcher in baseball history. Not that it will mean much in the long run...

Most of the Cubs hitters did their jobs, drawing walks are getting hits off former Cub Micah Owings so that RBI-guru Aramis Ramirez could come up in his preferred situation with runners on base and get his fill: 3 RBIs last night on 3 hits, 14 RBIs now on the year. Micah Hoffpauir, who I am fast coming to prefer over Milton Bradley, had his first homer of the season (and the first Micah-on-Micah homerun in baseball history!) and added another RBI later on. Ryan Theriot stayed on pace for a 200-hit season with another multi-hit (2-4) game. Everything's rolling right now--except for Neal Cotts, of course, who started a relief appearance last night with strikeout, but quickly lost his bearings and let the next two batters on base. Rescuing Cotts is becoming a full-time job for Carlos Marmol, and he did it again last night, saving Cotts ERA by shutting down the would-be Reds rally.

Cotts, I think, will soon go the way of Mike MacDougal, the wild, unreliable reliever that the White Sox parted ways with before their Tuesday night game in Baltimore. MacDougal always appeared to have a nice arsenal of pitches and had been effective as the one-time closer in Kansas City, but his stay with the Sox was about 98% disappointing.

Still, the Sox could have used Mac for mop-up duty Tuesday night, as they got popped by the Orioles 10-3. Jose Contreras again took it on the chin, and has not been able to find his control since his promising early return from injury during spring training. Contreras had 6 BB and 6 ER in 5.1 IP. At 0-3, he's responsible for half the Sox losses this season.

He didn't get much help from the offense, which managed only 3 runs (2 of which were unearned after a Baltimore error) off a rookie pitcher, Brad Bergesen, who seemed to befuddle them. The only bright spot in this one, other than a reliable RBI each from Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko, was that Alexei Ramirez went 2-4 for the second game in a row. He seems to be scratching his way out of his slump.

The Sox looked great in Tampa the weekend, but apparently left their bats in Florida. They haven't had much luck at all in Baltimore in recent years, though what does luck have to do with anything?

It's still early, he says

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Rockies 5 Cubs 2
Cardinals 7 Cubs 4

Tigers 9 White Sox 0
White Sox 3 Rays 2

Again had a few problems with BlogSpot earlier today and so I'm catching up:

Rockies 5 Cubs 2--My first trip to Wrigley this year. Not much has changed, thankfully, except for the Captain Morgan's Club monstrosity along Addison which further clogs of the sidewalks. Why doesn't someone close Clark and Addison already on game day?

I'm just grumpy because the Cubs never got it going against an old mate. Jason Marquis had his ups and downs as a Cub, and as he pitched against his former teamates as a member of the Rockies, he looked a lot like his Cub self: A very hittable pitcher who gets into plenty of jams, but sometimes finds his way out via a timely ground-out, strikeout or--in one case--a strike-him out/thrown-him-out double play.

Colorado beat the Cubs 5-2 Wednesday as SBW watched from the cheap seats, in a game where you kept anticipating a Cubs comeback that never quite happened, right down to the fizzled bottom-9th attempt at a rally. That inning started with a Derrek Lee solo homer (The crowd was on D-Lee at the start of this one for his slow start this season, but he went 3-4 in this game.) The Cubs added 2 baserunner and had Geovany Soto (the tying run) at the plate with no outs.

But within a couple of minutes, the game was over: Mike Fontenot made an ill-advised attempt to advance from second to third on a pass ball. From my lofty perch, it looked like he left late and that the ball didn't get all that far away from Rockies catcher Chris Ianneta. Why he was in such a rush to advance is anyone's guess--if he get's to third and scores on a sac fly, the Cubs would still be down 5-3. Lou could not have been happy.

Next, Geo, who was in his first game back from a shoulder injury and looked pretty rusty the whole game, grounded into an easy double play. The Cubs blew some earlier chances with runners on, but tying run at the plate with no outs will be the hardest to forget. Micah Hoffpauir had an RBI double for the first run, by the way, and Fukie still has his mojo.

The other story of this one was that Rich Harden had a very strange outing, only 3.2 IP, but 8 Ks and 4 BBs. Lights out in the 1st inning, and then increasingly hittable and wild after that. Marquis drove in 2 runs. Soriano let a run score on an error. What else? Neal Cotts was brought in to face lefties, but could get them out--remember that one for later.

Cardinals 7 Cubs 4--Today was just as frustrating, if not more so, as the Cubs squandered some early BBs courtesy of Cards pitcher Adam Wainwright. Milton Bradley made a surprise appearance as a pinch hitter with the bases juiced and was called out on strikes and then thrown out of the game for arguing--get used to that. Bradley started off with the count 3-0 and then looked like he didn't want to swing. I'm sure he would have gotten a pinch-runner if he got on, but he looked extremely tentative, and while Bradley and the crowd got on the home plate ump, it looked to me like he let 3 straight strikes blow right by him.

Other than that, Fukie again showed up when few others did, stroking a 3-run homer. he was caught stealing for the second game in a row--needs to work on that. D-Lee had a sac fly for the other Cubs run.

On the mound, Sean Marshall was definitely at least adequate, with 5 IP, 3 ER and 4 Ks, but was pulled after 93 pitches. Piniella and his staff are keeping him on a short leash to start the season, but I sure would have liked to see him go another inning in this one. He was pulled after an inning-opening single, and handed a 4-3 lead to Aaron Heilman, who gave it up the same inning. Later, Neal Cotts was handed the game with a lefty up and a runner on third, and guess what happened? Single to right field. I loved Cotts as a very effective member of the 2005 World Champion Chicago White Sox, but the last few games he is not doing the one thing he is required to do: Get lefties out.

Anyway, it's a good thing its only April 16.

Tigers 9 Sox 0--Almost nothing worth mentioning from the Sox' blow-out loss on Wednesday. Jose Contreras started well, but got knocked around his second trip through the Tigers' batting order, almost the same thing that happened in his first start. Also, Contreras is just about one of the easiest pitchers around to steal on, and he proved it in this game by letting big, slow Miguel Cabrera steal second base off of him. Cabrera is an amazing player, but if he steals another base all year it will have to be because Contreras is on the mound.

Still, while Contreras was most definitely not dealing in this one, it was Mike MacDougal who really put the game out of reach, giving up 4 ER on 4 hits and 3 BBs in 2 IP. Ozzie seemed determined at the opening of the season to give Mac yet another chance, but we'll see how long that lasts. I'd mention the Sox hitting highlights, but there were none.

White Sox 3 Rays 2--Speaking of stealing bases, the Rays are absolutely relentless in that department. But, they could not do much with lefty John Danks pitching tonight. Danks was pretty tough with 6 IPs, 1 ER and 8 Ks, and left with a 2-1 lead. The runs came on a 2-run homer by Jermaine Dye.

The Rays found it much easier to steal on the Sox bullpen, getting a stolen base off Octavio Dotel and stealing 3 bases off Bobby Jenks as he tried to close out the 9th. Jenks gave up a run, but the Sox fortunately had purchased insurance in the top of the 9th on an RBI infield hit by Josh Fields.

The Sox actually left the bases loaded in the 9th, and didn't make the most of their chances tonight. That usually spells misfortune against the Rays, but this time they escaped.

The new Cardinals

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The Brewers are the new Cardinals. Sure, the Beermakers-Cubs rivalry has been building up steam for a few years now, and really became a marquee (not Marquis) match-up last year. But, losses to the Brewers have somehow always made me feel: "Well, at least it wasn't the Cardinals."

No more. Today's 4-3 loss to the Brewers--even though it's just the fourth game of the season and the Cubs are now 2-2--took a lot out of me, and made me realize how much the losses to the Brewers hurt. And it wasn't just the bottom-9th comeback to tie and win by the Brew Crew. A pretty good pitching duel between Rich Harden and Braden Looper early on netted Harden 10 strikeouts, but had him losing 2-1, with one of the runs unearned and derived from a 1st inning error by Ryan Theriot.

The Cubs moved ahead in the 6th inning on a 2-run homer by Koyie Hill, subbing for the injured Geovany Soto. In the epically-long bottom of the 7th inning, 3 different Cubs pitchers were used to walk to Brewers batter and hit another before Carlos Marmol finally shut things down. Yet, the early appearance by Marmol seemed like a bad omen (Over the three final innings, the Cubs pen would walk 5 batters.) Lou Piniella turned to Luis Vizcaino in the 8th, but needed closer Kevin Gregg to come in and get the last out of the inning.

In the 9th, Gregg got the first batter to ground out, but looked shaky against the second man, walking him on a pitch that bounced about 8 feet in front of the plate, a pitch that Hill would later take the blame for. Next batter: Rickie Weeks, of the swing-and-hope-it's-a-fastball school of hitting. Weeks, who had an uncharacteristically great day in the field up to that point, got what he wanted.

Gregg, perhaps over-compensating for the previosu walk, grooved it down the middle, and Weeks pounded it over Alfonso Soriano's head in left. It seemed like a bad choice of pitch by Gregg against a notorious free-swinger, though Weeks had the count in his favor, so that makes for a pretty tough call. The thing that sort of bugs me a little bit more is we saw another late reaction and pitiful attempt by Soriano to reach the ball hit by Weeks. He seemed to be playing fairly deep, and the baseball textbook would likely say that in that situation (runner on 1st, up by 1 run, bottom of the 9th) you want to play deep to stop a double. So, what happened? Was it hit so hard, Soriano could do nothing but wave lamely? Was the sun, coming through the window wall of Miller Park on the 1st base side, a factor in his ability to see the ball?

Maybe I'm being tough on Al-So, but he seems to land in the middle of these types of situations. I'm willing to think I'm over-reacting right now, and that it's entirelly possible I'll cool off about this later. But, I think I now hate losing to the Brewers more than anybody.

Bronx bombed; Snow show?

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The Cubs are winless at the new Yankee Stadium. Of course, their record there is only 0-2, and the games don't actually count yet, but today's 10-1 loss came as close as you could get to actually counting, since it was the final pre-season tune-up for Monday night's opener in Houston.

Rich Harden looked pretty awful, pitching only 3.2 innings, giving up 7 earned runs, 3 HRs and 4 BBs while striking out 2. He'll have another 10 days or so to fix whatever went wrong before his next start, though when Harden doesn't pitch well, it's hard not to think the worst.

The Cubs looked pretty sluggish in both games at the new stadium, scoring early Friday night and then fading to a 7-4 loss in which it was Ted Lilly's turn to give away runs. In today's game, former Yankee Alfonso Soriano looked pretty swell, hitting a HR and going 3-4. He has generally looked better as spring has sprung, which can't be said for several of his mates. In both of these games, the Cubs seemed to be soaking in (and literally soaking) the new Yankee digs more than anything.

We're looking forward to Monday night anyway, and the hope that Carlos Zambrano remembers whatever he was doing so right when he no-hit Houston last September.

Meanwhile, we're also looking forward to Monday afternoon, when SBW will be heading down to the Cell for the White Sox opener. But, will there be baseball? Snow has been forecast for that morning, with driving winds and temps in the low 30s around mid-day. Ouch.

I love our teams, but they need to open on the road every year and stay away from home until mid-to-late April--it just means more home games later, right? My pal The Commish and I have been to many a Southside inaugural, and have had our share of good and bad weather. One year, we had a 70-degree day for the opener sandwiched between two much colder days. Then in 2006, we barely got to see the World Series Championship banners get hung before the game was delayed by drenching rains.

Maybe Mother Nature will cut us a little slack, but it doesn't look good. If they do start Monday, at least it might be quick: No. 56 will be on the mound setting his typically brisk pace.

A weekend to refresh, weather permitting

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The Commish and I are headed to NYC today to pay our respects to Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium before thay go to ballpark heaven. We are taking in the Yankees-Rays contest tonight, and the Mets-Braves game late Saturday afternoon. This is all weather permitting, of course. Not only is it a rainy day in Chicago, by NYC is supposed to get rain late tonight through Sunday. In any case, I'll be blogging from NYC this weekend, and will attempt to scout the Yanks for the Sox, who face them for an upcoming four-game series, and will do the same for the Cubs with the Mets, who they face for four games later this month.

Weather already has had its way with the Cubs-Astros series, as Hurricane Ike, arriving in Houston, forced the first two games of a weekend series to be postponed. The Cubs my fly down Saturday for a Sunday game and Monday double-header, or the games may take place at a neutral site. The break will let the Cubs refresh, though they now have a two-game winning streak after slipping by the Cards 3-2 last night.

The bad thing about the break is that it's the last one for this season, and I wonder if the Astros will make the Cubs pay by bringing Roy Oswalt back for a Monday game. The Astros are the hottest team in MLB since the All-Star break, but Oswalt is hotter, having pitched his second straight complete-game shut-out last night, and it would have been three in a row if Cecil Cooper had let him pitch the final 2/3 on the 9th inning in his 3-0 demoralizing of the Cubs in Wrigley Field on Labor Day.

Anyway, before the break, the Cubs again didn't muster much offense, but it was enough, their first two runs scored on a base-loaded walk and then an error, but we'll take what's given. The third run came on consecutive doubles by De-Ro and Mighty Mite, but with Fontenot on 2nd base and no outs, the Cubs couldn't manage to bring him home. Harden was mostly terrific, as usual; Marmol was shaky, but was helped by two fantastic game-saving catches by Al-So and Fukie; Woody was again not very good, but was helped by a bad slide into 3rd base that resulted in a very-close-call out. Woody had to get Pujols with the tying run at 2nd, and got him to harmlessly pop out to end this one. After Woody's bad September so far, that was a pleasant surprise. And, the Brewers lost.

The Sox need a break this weekend, and hopefully will be able to beat up on some Detroit pitching after losing the series finale to the Blue Jays last night 6-4. This was a stange one in that both Gavin Floyd and Jays starter Marcum were spotless until the 8th inning. All season, Floyd has been great for long stretches, with his mistakes and losses usually coming from one big, bad inning. Last night, he was extremely efficient with his pitch count until the 8th, when he gave up 4 runs during a 6-run rally by the Jays.

The Sox did what they could to come back, scoring 4 in the bottom of the inning off a homerun and 2-run double from Thome and JeDye, but it was too late in this one. Good news there is that the Twins lost, too. The Tigers come to town now, and though they score a lot of runs, their pitching has been awful. It will be interesting to see if this series is broken up somewhat by rain, as it expected throughout the weekend. Maybe, we'll see sunny days in October...

Playing timid against big bats

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I think Orlando Cabrera sometimes makes more mistakes in the field than his reputation suggests, and he has not delivered entirely on his promise as a hitter this year either, but one thing that's indisputable is his intensity. Earlier this week, he said the White Sox need to move up to a new level of intensity for the play-off push, and though the team has been tough and resilient this year, I couldn't have agreed more. Unfortunately, the Sox showed absolutely zero of that intensity when the started off a key series in Boston last night being shut out 8-0.

O.C. needs to take some of his own advice after going 0 for 4, but so does the rest of the line-up. Only JeDye and the Missile seemed to get the message, coming up with the Sox only two hits in this one. Javier Vazquez, who has alternated good and bad outings his whole career, was true to form, letting runs in early after being tough against the Rays last weekend.

The Piranhas gave the Sox some hope earlier this week when they had trouble out west. They beat Oakland late last night and appear to have found their pulse again. The Sox, meanwhile, flat-lined, and really need to come out of the gate aggressively the next 2 games in Boston. Not much is going to change for them in the coming weeks, but they will get Linebrink back. They just need to make sure they can stay in games and get him the ball when he returns.

The Cubs also didn't do much Friday, but got more out of less by winning 3-2. Harden was not great, in fact all over the place earlier on, but kept things close. The bats were silent against Harden's former A's mate Joe Blanton, with the first Cubs hit coming in the 4th. Later, the first Cubs run scored on what should have been a routine, inning-ending double play, by Jimmy Rollins air-mailed the throw to 1st base. That allowed DeRo to score from third. An inning later, in the 6th, the Cubs had no hits at all, but tied the game 2-2 on four walks sandwiched between outs. that shows how far plate patience can get you, and its something the Sox could have used more of later Friday evening.

The turning point for the game was a blown call at 1st base, when big Ryan Howard appeared to beat out a sharp grounder that banged of D-Lee, who had to chase it down and throw to Samardzija at 1st. Argue about it being a bang-bang play if you want, but in the replay, it is pretty clear Howard beat the throw. Too bad for the Phils the new replay policy only applies to HRs. Had Howard been safe, a runner on 3rd would have scored, but the out got Sammy 2.0 out of the inning.

The next inning, Soriano homered to put the Cubs up 3-2 and the bullpen shut 'em down from there. The Phils may say they were robbed of a win on a blown call, and that call certainly change the conditions of the game at that time, but when you send Rollins, the Flyin Hawaiian and Utley up to the plate in the 9th you've still got a heck of a chance to at least tie things up. They didn't. The Cubs are now 85-50.

Rays get A.J.'d; Harden gets boring

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I'm trying to keep it short today, though there is plenty to talk about. The Sox were down 5-4 in the 9th Sunday with the 3rd out running toward home plate trying to score on a short single when Rays' All-Star catcher Navarro botched the catch and the tying run scored. An inning later, A.J. was on second and got caught in a run down on a poor base-running move. Just when he was about to be tagged, he made contact with one of the Rays' fielders involved in the play. The call by Umpire Doug Eddings (yes, that Doug Eddings) was interference on the Rays and A.J. was awarded third base. Then, wouldn't you know it, he scored the winning run on a single by the Missile. Sox win 6-5 after being moments from getting swept. Instead they are alone in first place today because the Piranhas lost. Wow.

Is A.J. a cheater? If cheating is taking advantage of the chaos of a situation and making it more chaotic and confusing, then yes. But, he is more in tune with the subtext of a game situation than any player I have ever seen. Just earlier this month, I saw him purposely get caught in an inning-ending rundown that allowed a lead run to score that otherwise wouldn't have scored. Call it--and him--what you want, but either way, it's a win.

Meanwhile, on the Northside, Rich Harden is so freakin' good, he's starting to put me to sleep. Another great 7 IP, double-digit K (11 this time) performance by Harden, and the Cubs won the series against the Nats 6-1. DeRosa homered in his 4th straight game, nearing the record of 5 held by Ryno, Sammy and Hack Wilson. Fukie had a homer, too, and reportedly got some advice from the coaching staff on his bad swing habits, so hopefully we'll see a resurgence.

When you're playing the Nats, you've gotta hope for a series sweep. Instead the Cubs took two out of three the way the have been doing it to a bunch of teams all year. Just stay in that groove, boys...

Harden, harder, hardest

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You know how some people are social smokers? Well, I'm something of a social Catholic, which meant I wasn't about to miss the Boys' Night Out event at Wrigley Field Tuesday night for the lcoal mens' church group I've latched onto through my brother. The evening started as I noted in a previous post, with a visit to Tai's on Ashland, where we stretched out livers and stomachs in preparation for the big game. We chatted about the Farns' reputed 2003 visits to Tai's, and recent neighborhood sitings of Ryan Theriot's Escalade (Do you think he ever lets Fontenot drive it?). In any case, once we got to the game, our boys were on their best behavior, and so were the boys in royal blue pinstripes.

Rich Harden was Harden-like (7 IP, 10 Ks, 1 ER, 0 BBs). There was some talk after the game that maybe he's better than that fella CC up north, but without discounting Harden's massive talent, CC--or is it CG?--is a much stronger finisher. This one was still just a one-run game when Harden left, and that single run came on an unlikely sac-bunt down the 3rd base line by Harden himself. Geo, on 3rd at the time, crept toward home, but didn't seem to build a full head of steam until the ball was in the glove of Joey Votto at 1st base. Harden got credit for the RBI, but Votto's wild throw may have been the difference. The Cubs had two baserunning blunders earlier and for a moment, this play looked dicey. Of course, none of that mattered after the Cubs went up 5-0 in the 8th.

Meanwhile, 9.92 miles south (according to MapQuest) the White Sox did their part to bring us closer to an all-Windy City World Series, beating Lowly Seattle 5-0. The Sub-Mariners can now say they are so bad they got beat by Clayton Richard... We're kidding--Richard looked great in lowering his ERA out of the double-digit territory and getting his 1st MLB win during the same week he was supposed to be pitching in the Olympics. (Oh, well, maybe that Phelps kid can hold down the open bullpen spot in Beijing.)

What's harder than facing Rich Harden? Overcoming a 15-run attack, which is what the Sox bought down on the Sub-Mariners in the Wednesday matinee today (Final 15-3). The Missile again fired one into the seats as the Sox hit 4 HRs in a game for the 4th time in a week. Even that Griffey kid is starting to hit. Junior hit his 609th career HR to tie him with Sammy (You remember Sammy, don't ya?)

Both our teams are cruising right now, but remember who they are playing. The hardest tests still remain: The Sox have road trips to Tampa and Boston coming up, and a whole bunch of division games next month, including three the final week against the Piranhas. The Cubs have 12 next month against the Cards and Beermakers, 6 against Houston and 4 against the Mets. Yikes...
Consecutive visits to the Friendly Confines and The Cell this week got me thinking about what I like and dislike about both stadiums. In my next post, I'll elaborate...

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