Feel the beat of your heart, feel the wind in your face, it's more than a contest, it's more than a race. Why, it's the Pittsburgh Pirates home opener from lovely PNC Park upon the Allegheny. Playing the role of Jim Nantz, the Chicago Cubs.
Welcome to a special One Shining Moment version of From the Cubicle. If Memphis wins tonight, I win one of the two office pools I'm in. No money, of course, just a free weekend subscription to RedEye.
Two 0-1 lefties take the hill today, Ted Lilly for the Cubs and Tom Gorzelanny for the Pirates. Gorzelanny, a local guy, pitched one season for Kansas before transferring to Triton College. More importantly he's got a 2.60 ERA in four starts against the Cubs. Wouldn't it be neat if Lilly went to Memphis? No? OK.
And by the way, Tyler Hansbrough, hit the bricks, buddy. Back to the Ozarks and take your cheerleader Jay Bilas with you.
Pittsburgh is lovely this time of year. It is, truly. Pittsburgh is a charming river city. I've never been to PNC Park but it's supposed to be great.
Here are today's lineups and, yes, Lou Piniella has a new one for you. It's Ronny Cedeno day in Pittsburgh. Just don't get thrown out at second on a walk. That's all we ask. Reed Johnson, who played well over the weekend, as expected gets the call against a lefty.
This is weird. We have both the local and superstation WGN feed here in the building. On the superstation, they have the radio audio; on the local feed they have the TV audio but it sounds like it's coming out of a victrola that Bob Brenly is cranking. It's the bee's knees. Not exactly. Gorzelanny gets ahead of Alfonso Soriano 1-2 before Soriano fouls one off to the left side. Soriano flies out to left. Reed Johnson draws a one-out walk. The hot-hitting Derrek Lee works the count full before ... fouling one off. With Johnson running, Lee pokes a single through the hole on the left side. Johnson takes third on the play, pretty much running all over left-fielder Jason Bay. Another full count, this one to Aramis Ramirez and Gorzelanny has already thrown 23 pitches this inning. Ramirez bounces into the ugliest 6-4-3 double play to end the inning you'll ever see. Shortstop Luis Rivas initially booted the ball, flipped it to Freddy Sanchez, who then bounced it to first to get Ramirez and the Cubs get nothing in the first.
Nate McLouth singles to right. With Sanchez up, Lilly gets McLouth hung up between first and second. He throws to Lee, who throws down to second where Cedeno tags out McLouth. Lilly strikes out Sanchez on not the zippiest of fastballs but effective up and away. Jason Bay beats out a slow roller to third. Ramirez made a nice play charging in but didn't have much on the throw to get Bay. Ryan Doumit pops out in foul ground to Lee to end the first.
MBH, plenty of good and bad seats still available at PNC Park. However, the Pirates look resplendent in their classic uniforms with the sleeveless jerseys. The Cubs, meanwhile, are wearing those silly blue alternate tops. Kosuke Fukudome takes a fastball for a called third strike. Mark DeRosa doubles to the right-center gap. DeRosa takes third on a wild pitch. Can we fix the audio already? I'm expecting Orson Welles to break in with "War of the Worlds" any moment. Geovany Soto bounces one by the pitcher and somehow gets past the drawn-in shortstop, too, and dribbles into center field, allowing DeRosa to score. I like to think someone's reading. The audio is now back. We're in stereo finally. Cedeno bounces to shortstop; the Pirates try to turn it but Cedeno beats the throw to first to keep the inning alive. Not for long. Lilly strikes out but the Cubs get one across.
Cubs 1, Pirates 0
The weather in Pittsburgh looks very nice. Sunny and 63, like it was here on Saturday, which was a pretty awesome day. Xavier Nady takes Lilly deep to right where Fukudome grabs it on the track. Doug Mientkiewicz one-hops it to Lee, who adroitly handles it and steps on the bag himself. Jose Bautista reaches on a broken-bat single just out of the reach of a diving DeRosa. With Luis Rivas up, we get some great dugout shots. AS Carlos Zambrano bites his nails and spits, Larry Rothschild stares ahead into nothingness. Rivas pops out to Cedeno on the outfield grass.
Cubs 1, Pirates 0
That Bud Light Dude commercial is missing one last dude. After the guy cracks the beer out of the mini bar, they fail to show him getting the bill for that beer. "Dude!" Soriano flies out to right. Johnson draws a one-out walk (see: first inning). The Pirates pitching coach Jeff Andrews jogs out to have a talk with Gorzy, which Wikipedia explains is his nickname. Further explaining it's "a shortening of his last name." Thanks. And WGN just went blank. Now we've got the 1920s audio back, (Hello my baby, hello my darling...) still no picture, but Lee walks to put runners on first and second for Ramirez with one out. Ramirez "dribbles towards third," accoring to Len. Gorzelanny throws wild to first and into the stands, allowing Johnson to score. Second and third for Fukudome. Well, now I know how it feels to do this off the radio. Not good. Fukudome singles to right; Lee scores. Ramirez is held at third. DeRosa walks to load the bases for Soto. The 10 Pirates fans there are booing. Still no picture. Soto breaks his bat on a single to left. Ramirez scores to make it 4-0. Bay over-ran the ball, I'm told, but recovered in time to limit the damage. Six straight Cubs have reached and that's it for the Gorzinator. Hey, the picture on the commercials work. Imagine that? Lefty Phil Dumatrait is the new Pirates pitcher. We're back and still no picture. Cedeno doubles deep to center, clearing the bases, which until I see the replay, I don't believe actually happened. I think Len and Bob are just making stuff up now. Good start for Dumatrait, I've gotta say. "We are currently experiencing video difficulties from the park ... please stand by." You don't say. Lilly grounds out. Soriano hits with two outs and Cedeno on second. Soriano beats out an infield hit deep in the hole to short. First and third for Johnson. Johnson pops out to end, rumor has it, an alleged giant inning. Six-run third and no one saw it.
Cubs 7, Pirates 0
When the audio goes out, let's hope they can at least get us the action by Morse code. Dumatrait pops out to Lee. McLouth grounds out to second. Sanchez flies out to left to end the third.
Cubs 7, Pirates 0
I'm still stuck in a bunker somewhere and just need the lights to go out to complete the effect. "We are currently experiencing video difficulties from the park ... please stand by. We are currently experiencing video difficulties from the park ... please stand by. We are currently experiencing video difficulties from the park ... please stand by." I'm standing by. Lee grounds out to third to open the fourth. Ramirez flies out to right. Not sure where in right. Fukudome walks. DeRosa goes down swinging and we're moving right along here. At least we're not missing much.
Al Piemonte and Menards come in loud and clear, so there's that. Bay flies out to Soriano. Doumit is the catcher and Dumatrait is the pitcher. That's a big much for me to keep straight and I may have confused the two up higher. Doumit, the catcher, singles to right. Something happened because I heard the crack of the bat. Nady, I guess popped one foul down the line just out of the reach of Fukudome. The audio improved for a second but that didn't last long. Nady walks. Mientkiewicz bats with two on and one out. Mientkiewicz fouls a full-count pitch off the front of his foot and I hear he's down in agony. Finally, we've got video again. They are now replaying the big third inning and, yes, Ronny Cedeno did hit a bases-loaded double. Mientkiewicz walks and Bautista bails out Lilly by swinging at the first pitch and flying out to left for the second out. Just for fun I may do the rest of the game with my eyes closed. Rivas gets ahead of Lilly 2-1 before fouling one straight back. Rivas grounds to Cedeno in the hole; that'll score one. He back-hands it, has no reason to throw but does and air-mails it into the crowd, allowing another runner to score. There's the Ronny Cedeno we all know. To his credit he's a plus 2 with that double. Chris Gomez hits in the pitcher's spot and grounds to third. Ramirez fields it behind the bag and throws wild to Lee, allowing both runners to score. Two straight errors for the Cubs lead to to four runs. McLouth bangs a triple high off the right-field wall, scoring Gomez and the Pirates are right back in this at 7-5. That's it for Lilly. Enter Kevin Hart, who's in need of a mug shot on MLB.com's gameday. They just announced the Tribune won a Pulitzer for investigative reporting and the newsroom just went wild with about three minutes of applause. I thought it was because the WGN video came back. Sadly, From the Cubicle was snubbed once again. Sanchez flies out to right but the Pirates put up five in this one.
Cubs 7, Pirates 5
Franquelis Osoria, wearing sunglasses, is the new Pirates pitcher. Soto hits one that bounces off third base. It bounces towards the side wall and gets the ball guy right in the butt. Soto ends up on second. He's now got his head buried in his hands for violating ball dude rule No. 1: don't touch a ball in play. He tried to get out of the way. No big deal. Cedeno bounces out to short. Soto can't advance. Hart hits for himself. Hart fouls one off Doumit's knee. Doumit's down. He's up and then Hart fouls one off Doumit's bare hand. Osoria finally strikes out the Cubs pitcher. Soriano flies out to left.
Hart strikes out Bay. Doumit bounces out to Lee. Len tells us 75 years ago today prohibition was repealed. And thank god, because someone just brought me a glass of champagne from the Pulitzer jamboree taking place on the other side of the newsroom. Cheers. Great service! Hey, you can leave the bottle. Nady singles to center. Mientkiewicz grounds out to his counterpart, Lee, to end the fifth.
Cubs 7, Pirates 5
There's a lot to like about Reed Johnson, that is except for that beard. Johnson singles to left to open up the sixth. Lee pulls one down the left-field line that one-hops over that short fence for a double. Johnson has to stop at third, according to the rules. Ramirez bounces one to second and here comes Johnson down the line. Sanchez charges, throws home and Johnson slides hard right between the legs of Doumit to score. Seriously, that's what happened. Great play by Johnson and that's it for Osoria. Enter former White Sox hurler Damaso Marte with runners on the corners and no outs. Fukudome grounds to third. Bautista moves to his left, grabs it, spins 360 and fires home to get Lee, who tried a hook slide but was out. Second and third for DeRosa. DeRosa pops out for the second out. Soto pops out to short but the Cubs gets one more.
Cubs 8, Pirates 5
Hart remains for the Cubs. Bautista hits for the Pirates and walks. Hart falls behind Rivas 3-1. Larry Rothschild gets on the horn to the pen. Rivas singles to left and here comes Lou Piniella to get Hart. Carmen Pignatiello, or as he's known on the message board by some, CarPig, joins the party. Lefty Nyjer Morgan pinch hits for Pittsburgh. CarPig throws three straight balls. He walks Morgan on four pitches to load the bases for McLouth, who's leading the majors with 14 hits yet far. Pignatiello misses again and here comes Rothschild again to drop some knowledge on his young lefty. Whatever he said, had no effect. Pignatiello nearly drills McLouth with the next pitch. And then walks him, forcing home a run. Lou goes and gets him and we go to commercial. Bob Howry will face Sanchez with the bases loaded and still no one out when we return. Sanchez knocks home a run on the first pitch with a sac fly to center. Morgan tags and takes third. First and third for Bay. Soto drops a fastball and can't find it, allowing McLouth to take second. Cedeno robs Bay of a hit and maybe two RBIs with a diving catch. Game at least would've been tied there. Piniella takes a slow stroll out to the mound with a base open. They'll put Doumit on to face Nady, who's 2-for-9 in his career against Howry, Bob reports. Nady grounds to short; Cedeno flips to second to end the inning. The Pirates get two but it could've been a lot more, if not for the great Ronny Cedeno.
Cubs 8, Pirates 7
Right-hander Tyler Yates is the new Pirates pitcher and he'll face the great Ronny Cedeno. On the double switch, Morgan remains to play center and will hit ninth. McLouth moves over to play left and Bay sits. Cedeno flies out to right. Mike Fontenot hits for Howry and flies out to left. Soriano flies out to center and everyone in the outfield gets one.
Hey, another pitcher. Michael Wuertz to face Mientkiewicz. Mientkiewicz bounces to a leaping Lee, who flips to Wuertz -- I think. WGN just swtiched to some kind of CW teen drama for a second, whatever comes on at 3:30. Bautista gaps one to right-center and coasts into second. Rivas flies out to shallow right. Bautista bluffs a move towards third, but Fukudome throws it on the line towards third to keep him put. Morgan grounds to DeRosa, who boots it. He fetches it, throws home but Bautista slides home with the tying run. That's two brutal errors with the game on the line by DeRosa in the last, what, four games? With McLouth up, Soto, who hadn't thrown a guy out all year, nails Morgan at second.
Cubs 8, Pirates 8
Johnson is out on a swinging bunt. Lee, the only guy in the Cubs infield without and error today, flies out to right. Ramirez drives it to deep left-center, but Morgan makes the catch on the track.
Q, to answer your question, no. It's bad enough watching the Cubs try and catch and throw the ball. McLouth gets another try at the plate. Wuertz remains on the mound. Kerry Wood is rolling around on the ground in the Cubs pen. He's either in the midst of a restless nap or stretching out his back. Wuertz strikes out McLouth. Sanchez grounds out to DeRosa. Adam LaRoche hits for the pitcher and rolls out to Lee, who flips to Wuertz covering first.
Cubs 8, Pirates 8
Fukudome leads off the Cubs' half of the ninth. Lefty John Grabow is the new pitcher. Wtih two strikes on him, Fukudome singles up the middle. Carlos Marmol and Jon Lieber get up in the Cubs pen. DeRosa strikes out swinging. With Soto at the pate, Fukudome swipes second. The throw goes into center, but Morgan is there backing up, keeping Fukudome at second. Soto pops out down the right-field line. Cedeno flies out to center. Marmol will pitch the ninth for the Cubs.
The last time the Cubs blew a 7-0 lead? It was against the White Sox in 2002. Read all about it here, if you dare. And it's Lieber in the ninth for the Cubs, not Marmol. Ryan Theriot enters to play short and bat ninth. Doumit lines one to center, where Johnson mis-plays it and lets it go right over his head for a double. Someone came in to run for Doumit; didn't catch his name. Nady grounds out to DeRosa,
whatshisface Brian Bixler takes third. The Cubs will walk Mientkiewicz to possibly set up a double play. Bautista bunts down the first-base line. Lee charges and tags the runner. Bixler, at third picking dandelions, doesn't even try and come down the line. I'm not sure what happened there. Maybe he missed a sign. Maybe he bunted on his own. Brutal stuff from the Pirates. Rivas grounds out to DeRosa and the Cubs escape that one thanks to some interesting strategy by the Pirates.
Cubs 8, Pirates 8
Ronny Paulino enters to catch for the Pirates. Theriot draws a leadoff walk. Big righty Matt Capps is about the 25th pitcher of the day. Theriot takes off for second and is out but called safe. It looks like the ump thought the ball went through to center but Sanchez picked it and tagged Theriot on the hip before he slid into the bag. The Cubs catch a break there. Soriano strikes out. Daryle Ward will hit for Johnson. Ward hits a grounder that eats up the shortstop Rivas. Theriot takes third; Ward is safe on the error. Felix Pie comes in to run for Ward. On a 1-2 pitch to Lee, Pie takes second without drawing a throw. It was a ball, by the way. Lee takes a called third on the outside corner and barks at the home plate up, Alfonso Marquez, on his way back to the dugout. Capps and Ramirez are waging a mini-battle and the count evens up at 2-2 on a ball way up. Full count with Fukudome waiting ondeck. Ramirez strikes out, chasing ball four to end the top half of the 10th.
Four hours in, Pie stays in to play center. Lieber is still out there. Morgan flies out to Pie. McLouth flies out to a back-pedaling Soriano in left. Sanchez strikes out swinging and Lieber has his way with the Pirates in the 10th.
Cubs 8, Pirates 8
Capps vs. Fukudome goes to Fukudome. Single to left on a full count. "That guy knows what he's doing with that bat in his hand," Bob says. He sure does. Now what? Too bad they can't clone the guy. Fukudome runs, but DeRosa flies out to right and he has to retreat. Capp is very worried about Fukudome at first. C'mon. Just throw a pitch. Outside and it's 2-2 to Soto. Soto flies out deep to center. Fukudome is stuck on first. Meeting on the mound for the Pirates. For what? To discuss how to pitch to Jon Lieber? Lieber, ever the patient hitter, works the count full. Lieber grounds out to short and Fukudome leads off the inning with a single and they can't even get him to second. Why's he batting fifth again?
Where's that champagne? Pitcher Zach Duke hits for the Pirates and nearly doubles down the left-field line. Just foul. Meanwhile, no one told Duke; he's rounding the bases as if he's playing an entirely different game. Lieber comes back and strikes out Duke. Paulino grounds to Ramirez, who takes his time and then throws up the line, nearly getting Lee's arm torn off by the runner. Nady doubles off the wall in right-center. They put the lefty Mientkiewicz on. Bautista comes up with everything on the line and flies out to center on the first pitch. Jim Hendry immediately gets on the horn to work out a trade for him.
Cubs 8, Pirates 8
Evan Meek, the last guy in the Pirates' pen, comes on to pitch. Full count to Theriot and he draws his second straight walk. Soriano, 1-for-6, shows bunt but pulls the bat back. Let's see if the Cubs can get a base runner to second this time around. Theriot steals second again and again the call looked questionable -- or at least close. Replays show he was in safely this time. Three-and-0 to Soriano and the pitch is so inside that even he has to lay off it. OK, the Cubs officially have something cooking here in the, what, 12th? Meek doesn't look comfortable and Pie I assume would be bunting all the way here. Wild pitch and Theriot takes third; Soriano takes second. That's probably a passed ball since ti went right through Paulino's legs. It bounced hard off the backstop and right back to Paulino who nearly got Theriot at third. So so much for the bunt sign and Pie is now swinging and missing at pitches near his eyes. He hits a dribbler to first on a 1-2 pitch and the base runners have to hold. They'll put Lee on. Here's Ramirez with one out and the bases loaded. Anything but a double play here. Ramirez lines one to right and Theriot tags and scampers home with the go-ahead run. Another one gets by Paulino and Soriano and Lee move up, which means the Pirates'll put Fukudome on to load 'em up. DeRosa walks and that pushes across a much-needed and welcomed insurance run. Meek has walked five and is 3-0 to Soto. Ball four is called a strike on a gift from the ump. Soto flies out to right to end the top half.
Cubs 10, Pirates 8
So Marmol is going to pitch the bottom of the 12th to try and nail down the save, but, man, I'm thinking Kerry Wood has had enough rest that he could pitch. Marmol starts off Rivas with a strike. Rivas then flies out to Fukudome in shallow right. Nice running play there. Marmol strikes out Morgan. It's down to McLouth for the Pirates and he quickly falls behind 0-2. He recovers and sends a broken-bat bloop single to right. Marmol saws off Sanchez's bat. Sanchez grounds to third; Ramirez throws on target and this one is finally over.
Final: Cubs 10, Pirates 8
Wow. A lot going on in that one. The Cubs took a 7-0 lead. WGN blacked out. The Cubs blew a 7-run lead. I blacked out for a bit. Ronny Cedeno had some ups and downs, but mostly ups. Mark DeRosa made another killer error. Jon Lieber pitched great in long, late relief. There was champagne served. And ultimately the Cubs pulled it out. Thanks for reading everyone, especially those brave souls who stuck it out until the end.