Greg Maddux shoots for another impressive milestone today against the Cincinnati Reds, trying to become the 13th pitcher ever to amass 3,000 strikeouts.
The baby-faced assassin, as Bob Verdi once called him, is six away. Take into account that he'll probably face Adam Dunn three times today and Dunn will strike out twice and hit his usual moonshot against the Cubs his third time up, it's doable but not a certainty.
Good morning and welcome to a special morning edition of From the Cubicle.
It's getaway day in Cincinnati for the Cubs. And if you've ever been to Cincy, you know that means get the heck out quick. Only kidding. The Queen City is a lovely place. Plus, it's right across the river from Kentucky! The WKRP theme has been running through my head all morning and in tribute, I've got my hair feathered like Gary Sandy, have my cubicle taped off ala Les Nessman and am craving Skyline Chili, one of the Midwest's greatest guilty pleasures.
Not to be outdone, Reds lefty Eric Milton is two strikeouts shy of 950 and a victory short of 76. Maybe he'll get a display case in Pete Rose's Hall of Shame tent the Hit King erects every year to sign autographs down the street from the real Hall.
We'll enter the magical and fanciful world of baseball soon. Eat your lunch at your desk today and keep your cursor on the refresh button. Today's lineups.
The latest on Kerry Wood from the Cubs TV guys isn't much: Right shoulder inflamation. So here's a topic of discussion, should the Cubs convert Kerry Wood into a left-handed hitting outfielder? Jerry Hairston bunts the first pitch of the game down the first-base line for a hit. Pretty sneaky, sis. Todd Walker flies out to Ken Griffey Jr. in center. Derrek Lee pops out to Barry Larkin at short...I mean NBA first-round bust Felipe Lopez out of St. John's. Good to see he's found some success in baseball. Aramis Ramirez bloops one to center that Griffey takes a diving stab at, but the ball squirts out of his glove. Hairston thought about it trying it, but stopped at third. Michael Barrett, in the midst of a seven-game hit streak, digs in to the very red dirt of the Great American Ballpark batters box. Barrett flies out to Austin Kearns in right.
Maddux starts things off by fanning Ryan Freel. He's now five away from 3,000 and only 2,719 short of Nolan Ryan. Lopez pops out to his shortstop counterpart, Ronny Cedeno. Griffey dinks one to center for a single. Kearns, making his triumphant return to the Reds after being demoted to the minors and whining about it, doubles to right. Griffey stops at third. Adam Dunn, who could play Mongo in a remake of "Blazing Saddles," grounds to second to end the threat and inning.
Jeromy Burnitz flies out to Junior. Cedeno does the same but to Kearns in right. The red-headed rookie Matt Murton draws a walk. Maddux strikes out, his 357th as a hitter. No one mentions that.
Richie Aurilia pokes one to the left-field bleachers. That's the 287th homer Maddux has given up in his career. I'll stop. One of the greatest names in baseball steps in, Wily Mo Pena strikes out. Javier Valentin strikes out, as well, and Maddux is getting closer to something he appears not to care about too much. Milton, however, lines a single to right. Freel bounces a single up the middle and Barrett goes out to talk to Maddux for conversation that probably went something like this:
Maddux: What do you want?
Barrett: Uh, I just thought I'd try and...
Maddux: Beat it.
Lopez grounds out to second, thanks to Barrett's pep talk.
Reds 1, Cubs 0
Hairston tries to bunt again for a hit. Not this time. Walker rips one back through the box for single. Lee hits one deep but Mo Pena tracks it down. Ramirez lofts a weak flyball to right and onward we go.
Junior lines out to Ramirez. Hey, "Hey, Calderama," we've considered that, but I think it looks backwards to have the newest stuff at the top of the page--probably because it is. When I refresh my browser it returns to the place on the page I was last. Your's doesn't? Plus, our webmonkeys don't listen to anything I say anyway. Kearns singles to left. Dunn bounces it back to Maddux, who starts a 1-6-3 inning-ending double play. The Reds strand more runners than the Cubs.
Reds 1, Cubs 0
Uh, right. I guess posting the score would help matters. Thanks for pointing that out, "Drewbacca." Barrett bounces out to Freel at third. Burnitz lines a single to center. Cedeno rips a double to left and Burnitz is chuggin' around third. He slides safely home to beat the relay and tie the game, 1-1, and takes a good five minutes picking himself up. He may have hurt his ankle on the slide. Murton singles but Cedeno, not knowing if Pena would catch it, holds at second. Maddux shows bunt, draws the bat back and chops one past a drawn-in Dunn and into right field, scoring Cedeno. To make matters worse Mongo cut the throw from right that might have had Cedeno. Who's Dunn kidding creeping in that far? Murton goes stopped at second. OK, the message board mob raises a good point about being drawn in opposite direction on the page. We've got the brain trust huddled up over here in a big philosophical discussion, if you can use that word for this silly feature. I'm not sure anything can be done today, but point taken. Meanwhile Burnitz is getting his ankle wrapped. Hairston pops out to Dunn in foul territory and someone just said to me, "and careful what you say about the webmonkeys." Walker jumps all over a 2-1 meatball and hits a three-run homer to right. This one's now 5-1 and everyone has cleared out of my cubicle. Is Eric Milton the worst free-agent signing since Jerry Krause brought in Eddie Robinson? Lee rips one to third, where Freel knocks it down but has no play. Ramirez rips one at Freel, who this time makes a great diving stop and solid throw to end the inning. The Cubs send nine to the plate and score five runs.
Cubs 5, Reds 1
Aurilia singles. Wily Mo grounds to Ramirez, who throws to Walker, who can't get much on his throw to first. Aurilia out; Wily Mo safe. With Valentin up, Pena steals second. Not that it matters because Valentin hits the next pitch to the right-field bleachers to make the game 5-3. Milton grounds out and Freel does the same to end the inning.
Cubs 5, Reds 3
Barrett lines one to left and Pena takes his sweet time getting there and Barrett takes second. Someone on the message board mentioned he had been the only guy without a hit. Burnitz lofts one to left and again Junior takes a diving stab and again he comes up empty. He keeps the ball infront of him, but Burnitz ends up on second and Barrett scores. That's it for Milton. Jason Standridge will pitch after some car and beer commercials. I was wrong. Barrett did not score because he was lollygagging it to third. Brutal. Sorry. As for the Reds' fourth Ryan Freel grounded out to third to end it, for those of you keeping score at the office. So in this inning second and third with no outs for Cedeno. Sorry about all that. I got a bit overwhelmed with all the scoring, the message board comments and the webmonkeys, who now definitely won't talk to me. Cedeno hits it back to Standridge, who looks back Barrett and fires to Dunn, who's standing right on top of the bag and Cedeno nearly bounces off of him. The Reds walk Murton, loading the bases for Maddux, who hits the first pitch into a 6-4-3 DP.
Lopez bunts for a hit. This guy's no Barry Larkin, but is pretty good. Junior flies out. Kearns flies out to Burnitz. I hate to say it but Dunn hits a homer every time he plays the Cubs, he's kind of like Richie Sexson. The Cubs put on the shift. I doubt Dunn will bunt one down the third-base line. Well, Dunn strikes out a lot and he did there to end the inning.
Hairston grounds out to Lopez. Walker pops up in foul territory and Freel gloves it. Lee fans. And to answer your question, Drew V, I have never seen back to back doubles where the first guy didn't score.
Maddux is done after just 71 pitches, leaving two strikeouts short of 3,000. Michael Wuertz trots on and he'll face Aurilia and strikes out Aurilia. Wily Mo Pena's got a little R. Kelly in him. Wuertz strikes him out, too. The red-hot Valentin jacks another homer, his second of the game, and it's 5-4. Jacob Cruz hits in the ninth spot and strikes out. I should have never mentioned R. Kelly. The message board immediately went blue.
Cubs 5, Reds 4
Todd Coffey is the new pitcher. Ramirez hits it deep to center and Junior makes a nice running catch on the track. Does Ramirez ever run hard any more after hitting a ball, whether it be a lazy fly ball or a shot that he thinks is gone like that one? Barrett beats out a grounder deep in the hole at short. Burnitz hits it to Aurilia, who makes a nice back-handed stop but tries to flip it to Lopez out of his glove. The ball rainbows over Lopez's head and everyone's safe. Cedeno flies out to right and Barrett tags and takes third. Murton takes a called third strike to end the inning.
Wuertz stays in and Freel lines a single to right. Dusty walks out, yanks Wuertz, brings in Will Ohman and puts in Neifi Perez at short for Cedeno. Perez will lead off the eighth. Freel steals second and Barrett throws down to second but no one is covering. Freel then takes third. Lopez hits it to Lee and he stunningly boots it. Freel, however, does not score. Two straight errors for the Cubs and a rare one on Lee. First and second, no one out and Junior at the plate. By the way, Roberto Novoa is throwing in the pen. Griffey works the count full and eventually draws a walk. Here comes Dusty again. And here comes Novoa. No outs, I remind you. The infield is back up the middle and in at the corners. Kearns taps one to Ramirez, who comes home to get Freel, but Barrett's throw to first is just late. Dusty comes out to argue the call but it was correct. Now it's one out and bases loaded for Dunn. Novoa gets two quick strikes on Dunn and throws a curve right over the plate that's called a ball. Novoa doesn't like it and kind of shows up the ump by spinning around. Novoa comes back and strikes out Dunn looking. Aurilia lofts one to shallow right and Hairston comes on and on and makes one of the finest diving catches you're going to see to end the inning. Wow. That was serious trouble there and Hairston made pretty much an amazing catch. Nice job by Novoa, too. If that ball got by Hairston it may have been three runs.
Brian Shackelford is the Reds' new pitcher and Perez flies out to right. Hairston grounds out to short on a swing that was about as ugly as his catch was pretty. Walker hits one to short where Lopez makes a nice play, throws to first and that ends a quick top of the eighth.
Novoa remains. Pena pokes a single through the hole on the left side, bringing up Valentin, who's already hit two homers today. Novoa wants no part of this guy, starting with three straight balls way out of the strike zone. Ryan Dempster is up in the pen and Novoa throws two strikes down the middle before walking Valentin. Ray Olmedo hits and bunts the runners over. Sean Casey will now hit. Novoa goes full to Casey before balking home the tying run. Novoa then walks Casey. Ryan Dempster is the new pitcher. Jose Macias will play second. Will this game ever end? First and third with one out for the shortstop Lopez. Lopez lines it off Dempster, it bounces towards third, Dempster checks the runner at third and gets Lopez at first. They'll walk Junior. Kearns bats with two outs and the bases loaded and quickly bounces a single to center. Valentin scores. Hairston's throw short-hops Barrett, who can't handle it then gets run over by Casey, making it 7-5. Griffey goes to third. The Cubs now walk Dunn, loading the bases for Aurilia. Aurilia knocks a full-count pitch into center, scoring a couple more. Hairston throws to third and Aurilia takes second. Wily Mo steps in and the Reds have batted around. Dempster stikes out Pena to end the Reds' five-run inning. That one had a little of everything.
Reds 9, Cubs 5
Matt Belisle comes on to try and close this one out for the Reds. He'll face Derrek Lee. Lee lofts a full-count pitch to center where Junior makes a fancy back-handed running catch. Ramirez gets a run back with a solo homer to left. Barrett grounds out to second and Burnitz grounds out to third to end the game. A tough loss for the Cubs to put it mildly.
Final: Reds 9, Cubs 6
Thanks for reading, writing in and posting on the message board, everyone. It gets no easier as the Cubs head to the land of humidity, St. Louis, for three games with the Cardinals. Have a good weekend and stay out of traffic, everyone.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun