We're back for a second straight day of more fun/torture as the Cubs return home after a disastrous 1-8 road trip.
Today they send another young pitcher to the mound. Angel Guzman, for whom Cubs fans have been waiting patiently for years, has been looking like the pitching version of Corey Patterson yet far. But it's way too early for fans to jump on this guy, even the insanely impatient Cubs fans who jumped on Jacque Jones the first week of the season.
The always hated Padres trot former hated Cardinal Woody Williams out there and he's off to a good start, 3-1 with a 3.12 ERA.
I have zero problem being in the basement today, especially since it looks like a tornado could come ripping down Michigan Avenue any minute. From Tom Skilling's five-day, "A spell or two of mixed ice pellets or a few passing snow flurries." Lovely stuff.
Guzman plunks Dave Roberts on the elbow and the Padres have the leadoff man on in the first. So with former White Sox center fielder Mike Cameron at the plate Roberts steals second on Michael Barrett. Cameron sends it deep to right where Jerry Hairston makes a nice catch in the well. Roberts tags and takes third. Guzman walks Brian Giles and this already has all the makings of badness and there hasn't even been a hit yet. Mike Piazza digs in and Guzman goes to the always lame fake-to-third, fake-to-first move--a true sign of desperation. Full count to the raging heterosexual and he hits a check-swing bloop single to right, scoring Roberts. First and third for Khalil Greene, who pops up to Barrett. Greene is Baha'i, in case you didn't know. Vinny Castilla--yes, Vinny Castilla--flies out to right.
Padres 1, Cubs 0
For the love of George Clooney, I have to agree with some on the board who wondered what Sutcliffe was apologizing for. You notice they cut his microphone only when he implied that the San Diego market was too small for Matt Vasgersian. It's not like he said he wanted to kiss Mud Grant. Juan Pierre attempts a quasi bunt and it's right at Castilla, who throws out Pierre. The immortal Neifi Perez flies out to center. Ronny Cedeno sends a two-out single up the middle. Aramis Ramirez sends one to the right-center gap for an RBI double that Len Kasper calls "some two-out magic." Uh. I'm not sure Len and Bob have seen a two-out RBI this year. Barrett flies out, but the Cubs tie it. Progress!
Cubs 1, Padres 1
Adrian Gonzalez fans. Gee, I wonder if someone will post on the message board wondering if this Tribune employee will mention the amount of empty seats in Wrigley Field on this 40-degree rainy day. Oh, wait. Guzman strikes out Josh Barfield, as well. Yes, Roberts scored the Padres' run in the first. Sorry about that. I blame the gin. After an epic at-bat Williams draws a walk. Roberts hits one the other way over Matt Murton's head. He waves at it and then waves his arms when it gets lost in the ivy. But then he has a go at digging it out, which is a bad move. Williams pulled something between second and third and is being looked at by the trainer. I guess it was ruled a ground-rule double. Either way, second and third. The Cubs got a break that the ump ruled it a double before Williams could hobble home. And that's it for Williams. Clay Hensley runs for Williams. After all that Guzman strikes out Cameron looking.
The Padres' new pitcher is...not sure. They haven't told me yet. Comcast is busy showing a replay of Matt Murton going back to the dugout after the top of the inning. Thrilling stuff. It's right-hander Brian Sweeney, who's taking his sweet time warming up. Let's go, buddy. Doesn't John Mabry look like a pitcher when he bat? I don't mean he hits like a pitcher, he just looks like a pitcher. Well, he looked like a pitcher there striking out, but how many pitchers don't wear batting gloves. OK, enough about John Mabry. Geez. Murton pulls a single through the hole. Loyal reader Jim from Virginia asks about the reception the Cubs received when they took the field. I didn't see it. Sorry. I can't imagine it was all that drastic. Hairston strikes out and Guzman tries to bunt for a hit but misses the ball. Whoa. By the looks of his second swing I can see why he thought a bunt might be a good idea. My eyes! Well, so much for my dumb comments. Guzman sends a double to the gap to score Murton. That's his first career hit and first RBI. The ball goes to the dugout where Carlos Zambrano grabs it and he'll likely inscribe it with something really nice and family friendly, I'm sure. Pierre flies out to left.
Cubs 2, Padres 1
Giles walks for the second straight at-bat. Piazza lines a single to left. Eagle-eyed reader Matt says Woody Williams doesn't wear batting gloves. And provides evidence. Nice. Greene cues one to Mabry, who doesn't wear batting gloves, makes nice play and throws as he's falling over to Guzman covering first. Castilla grounds to Cedeno and with Giles breaking on contact, the only play is at first. Giles scores to tie it. Guzman walks Gonzalez and Larry Rothschild comes trotting out of the dugout. Guzman throws one in the dirt to Barfield. Barrett can't handle it and Piazza hustles to third. Gonzalez stays put on first. Barfield walks and Glendon Rusch gets up in the pen. Guzman strikes out Sweeney with the bases loaded. The Padres have stranded seven.
Cubs 2, Padres 2
Guzman can't be long for this one. He's thrown a ton of pitches. And in eagle-eyed Matt's defense, he says he read that info on Williams in Paul Lukas' column on espn.com. Neifi singles to center just in front of a diving Cameron. Cedeno bunts Neifi to second as the rain starts to fall a little harder. Ramirez sends it deep to center, deep enough for Neifi to tag and take third. Second baseman Barfield robs Barrett of a hit and RBI with a nice diving stop.
Cubs 2, Padres 2
Rusch replaces Guzman and Roberts bunts for a hit that completely catches Ramirez and Rusch by surprise. Cameron lines a single to right on the first pitch. Giles bounces into a 4-6-3 double play. Roberts goes to third. Piazza doubles down the left-field line for his third hit of the day, scoring Roberts. Greene flies out to Hairston in right.
Padres 3, Cubs 2
In case you all want to update your records, Williams left the game with a strained left calf. Sweeney plunks Mabry to start the bottom of the fourth. Murton erases that baserunner by hitting into a 6-4-3 double play. Hairston walks and then steals second on Piazza, even with the pitcher up and two outs. Rusch strikes out and that ends the fourth.
Castilla lines a single to right. Gonzalez lines a single to center. Not sure what just happened, but the ball just got away and both runners advanced. Dusty comes out to argue but to no avail. Cedeno decided to throw the ball out of play without asking the umpire. OK, here's the replay. Yeah, he took the relay from center and then just lobbed the ball towards the Cubs' dugout. That was a first for these eyes. Barfield pops out foul behind first base. Mabry had some trouble with his footing there but was able to make the catch. Former Cub Eric Young hits for Sweeney. Young walks to load the bases. Scott Williamson takes off his parka down in the bullpen. Roberts chops one to Cedeno, who flips to Neifi, who then fires it in the dirt past Mabry. They had no chance at Roberts anyway. Two runs score and Roberts takes second. Roberts then swipes third and the ball gets away from Ramirez. But not far enough for anything to happen, just worth mentioning because it fits in nicely with the theme of this inning. Cameron lines a double to the gap, scoring Roberts. Boos are cascading down and now Michael Barrett is jawing with Roberts at home plate. They're separated. Barrett is still yelling towards the Padres' dugout. Warnings have been issued to both benches. As Roberts crossed the plate he brushed shoulders with Barrett and then words were exchanged. Giles bounces a single up the middle and Cameron scores. More boos, Dusty yanks Rusch and this is one of the ugliest innings I've ever seen. Williamson will come on to try his hand at this mess. Now what? The trainer is out cutting the sleeves off Williamson's undershirt. I guess the multicolored sleeves are against the rules. Bizarre.
Cubicle update: If this game lasts beyond 4:15, and at this rate it looks like it will, young Rahula Strohl will step in in relief. He's a traditional touch typist warming up in the adjacent cubicle. I have a doctors appointment. Seriously, I do.
So at any rate, Piazza hits with two outs and Giles on first. We're still in the top of the fifth, by the way. Piazza dumps a single into center; Giles stops at second. Greene is the ninth Padre to hit this inning. Greene rips a pea to left and it hits the heel of Murton's glove and bounces away. Piazza scores. Castilla bounces out to Mabry to end this nightmare.
Padres 8, Cubs 2
So, just to recap, that inning featured three errors, two pitchers, one near fight, 10 batters, two dead shirt sleeves and five runs. Did I miss anything? Former White Sox hurler Jon Adkins is the new pitcher. Pierre legs out an infield single and then steals second. Niefi pokes a double to the right-field corner and Pierre scores. Cedeno fans and Ramirez flies out. Barrett pops up in the middle of the infield.
Padres 8, Cubs 3
Williamson gets Gonzalez and Barfield in order and then strikes out the pitcher Adkins. That's the first 1-2-3 inning the Cubs have had all day.
Mabry bounces back to Adkins for the first out. Murton singles to center. Hairston hits it over Cameron's head in center. Murton had to hold up and then stops at third. Todd Walker has woken up from his nap and he'll pinch hit. Walker knocks in Murton with a sac fly. Now back to bed. Hairston takes third on the play. Pierre grounds out to Castilla.
Padres 8, Cubs 4
"Let's show some enthusiasm," Mr. Cub implores the cold, wet fans still at the park. "Yeah," they respond.
Neifi flies out. Scott Cassidy is the new Padres' pitcher and with that I kick it over to Rahula Strohl in the next cubicle. Later. Have a great weekend and once again enjoy the rain.
Rahula: Hey folks. The rain is awful, by the way, had the pleasure of walking a good mile and a half total in it. Ronny Cedeno struck out looking in the change-over process. Ramirez does the same and has a little hissy fit about it before we go to the eighth.
Padres 8, Cubs 4
It appears that Real Fan is trash-talking White Sox fans. I learned at a young age that trash-talking the defending champs in any sport doesn't really work. And Patrick, yes, it is very difficult to believe the Cubs were in the NLCS only three years ago. Only one guy in their starting lineup today was in their lineup in the NLCS, that being Ramirez. Bob Howry and Mike Piazza battle for a while before Piazza breaks his bat grounding to Cedeno. Khalil Greene fans, though you wouldn't know it listening to the announcing, as Ernie and Brenly are just singing the praises of Cedeno's defense. At least Len didn't jump in with his two cents and let two actual major leaguers talk about baseball. Vinny Castilla, who apparently is still alive, dumps one down the right field line and Jerry Hairston's dive comes up about a foot short of making the catch and Castilla has a Texas-League double. Apparently four runs isn't enough of a deficit, as Howry gives up a high-arcing two-run job to Adrian Gonzalez. Barfield gives it a ride but it doesn't catch whatever wind gust Gonzalez's homer did and Pierre runs it down.
Padres 10, Cubs 4
CubsArmy, Rusch had quite a bit of help from his defense in giving up those five runs. One of the all-time Cub innings, including a little Brant Brown flashback from Matt Murton. Khalil Greene makes a fantastic play on a Michael Barrett grounder in the hole at short. One-hopped the throw to Gonzalez, who made an equally impressive play fielding the ball on the foul ground side of the bag. John Mabry rips a single. Murton fans. So does Hairston.
Padres 10, Cubs 4
Ryan Dempster in to clooh wait, he hasn't needed to do that in a good two weeks. Dempster fans former Cub great Mark Bellhorn. I think my mother struck out Mark Bellhorn at one point. Roberts walks. Dempster fans Cameron with a nice little X3 graphic transferring us from live action to the replay and back again. Giles flies out.
Last chance down 6
Ryan Theriot to lead it off. I tells ya, this is the guy you want up in this situatiwow, couldn't finish typing that without laughing. The board has degenerated in to Cubs-Sox week silliness. I said it last year, I'll say it this year, and I'll probably say it every year until this stupid interleague experiment is over, the Cubs-Sox series are the two worst sports weekends of the year. It brings out the absolute worst in both type of fan and almost makes me ashamed to be a Chicagoan. Theriot works a full count before walking, a solid at-bat. I retract my sarcastic opening comment. Pierre lines one toward Bartmanland but it goes a couple rows deep. He takes a few pitches then dumps one in the left-center gap, second and third with none out. Theriot had to hold up until he was sure the ball was going to drop, otherwise he'd have scored. Perez fouls one up the first-base line and Barfield makes an over-the-shoulder catch. Theriot scores with Barfield's back to the infield. Cedeno thinks he foul-tipped a 2-2 pitch but the ump says he didn't get any part of it, so he's tagged and we have two outs. Ramirezwhat else?pops out to end it. The fifteen fans left start filing for the exits.
Final: Padres 10, Cubs 5
Final thoughts: I think I needed to take a few more warm-up sentences, but I felt pretty good comin' out of the pen. Adam, of course, with a solid start, taking it into the seventh. Made my job easy. Oh, there was a game? Yeah, it stunk. Join us all next week. Greg Gugger will bring you the Sox-Twins in his farewell FTC, then Adam will bring you the finale of the Cubs-Nats on Thursday and we'll have special weekend editions of FTC, bringing you all three Cubs-Sox games. See ya then.