Last we saw these two teams on the field, the young Diamondbacks were having their way with the Cubs in last season's National League Division Series. They swept 'em. Ted Lilly, in his lone start, went nuts. Remember that? it wasn't awesome.
If you purged that from your memory bank, you're excused. It wasn't pretty.
Since then the D'Backs lost to the Colorado Rockies in the NLCS but learned a life's lesson in that series --winning's better than losing -- that they've put to practice this season. They lead the land in winsm, runs and some other categories I'm too lazy to look up. The Cubs, meanwhile, started hot and then haven't won a series since they beat the Mets on April 22 when Cedric Benson's boat was still in dry dock.
Lilly was the opposite: started slow but has been better of late, 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA over his last three starts. Let's hope he can keep it together today.
On the upside the Cubs avoid Brandon Webb, who won his eighth game last night. On the downside, Dan Haren is no slouch (4-1, 3.12).
Happy Friday, everyone (even though it's my Thursday this week) and happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there, mine included.
You want yer lineups? I got yer lineups, right here.
If this play-by-play suddenly stops, it's not because of another server problem like we had on Wednesday, but because I passed out from this unbelievably hot giardiniera on the Italian beef sandwich with which I just stuffed my face. I'm sweating like Joe Boroswki. Holy acid reflux waiting to happen. The sky is overcast, the cold wind is blowing in and the guy a few desks away will not stop sneezing. The message board is now live. Sorry about that. Here we go after all my ramblings, Lilly hits the corner for the a strike on Eric Byrnes. Byrnes then strikes out on three pitches. Stephen Drew grounds weakly to second for the second out. Chris Young hits the first pitch he sees from Lilly into the left-field bleachers for a solo homer. Talk about deja vu. As far as I can tell Lilly did not slam his glove to the ground. Conor Jackson pops out to end the top of the first, but Young goes deep and the Cubs and Lilly already are down a goal.
D'backs 1, Cubs 0
Alfonso Soriano hits one down the left-field line. Could be trouble. Byrnes gives chase ... and it's foul. Soriano grounds out to third. Theriot hits it to left where Byrnes makes a diving catch. There's much debate in baseball that Byrnes is a phony hustler, like he gets bad jumps on balls and then makes up for it with a diving catch. Kinda like Carlos Lee back in the day. Though, I'm not comparing the two because Byrnes is a much better fielder. There was a Byrnes catch on Baseball Tonight Web Gems the other night and Buck Showalter refused to give the guy credit. Derrek Lee's out on a swinging bunt in front of the plate.
D'backs 1, Cubs 0
Lilly fans Justin Upton on a changeup. Lilly gets Mark Reynolds, too. Chris Snyer singles to left. Lee grabs Chris Burkes pop foul near the Arizona dugout to end the top half of the second.
For Lost fans, this is a good read about last night's episode. Yes, this guy way over-analyzes a TV show, but it's always a fun read. Aramis Ramirez grounds out to short. Kosuke Fukudome takes a high slider for a called third strike. "I don't know about that one," Bob Brenly says. Geovany Soto grounds out to third and the Haren has sat down the Cubs in order so far.
D'backs 1, Cubs 0
Haren flies out to shallow right. Byrnes skies one to left. Soriano makes the catch with his hop. Hadn't seen that in awhile because it seems like everything he's caught lately he's misjudged and caught at his waist. Drew lines one to center. Reed Johnson charges, dives and misses the ball. It rolls to the track where Fukudome gets it. A two-out triple for Drew. Young takes a backdoor breaker for strike three, stranding Drew at third.
The count goes full to DeRosa; he hits one back through the box off Haren's glove. DeRosa dives into first with an infield single. Johnson tries to bunt for a hit but it rolls foul. Johnson fouls off a number of pitches. DeRosa runs and Johnson grounds out, which is as good as a bunt, it just took about a half an hour longer. Lilly moves DeRosa to third with a ground ball to the right side. Soriano grounds to third to end the inning. So much for DeRosa at third.
D'backs 1, Cubs 0
And much apologies for the Lost spoiler. Rookie move. I struck it from the record. Sorry again. I just got a little excited but I'm an idiot. Speaking of which, I'm wearing headphones, Bob Brenly and Len Kasper were talking about Richie Sexson losing it last night and throwing his batting helmet at Rangers pitcher Kason Gabbard and I yell out "Chicken s--- move!", which is how Sexson described it afterwards. Except like someone wearing headphones for the first time, it was way too loud. Even the sneezing guy looked up. Lilly walks Jackson. With Upton up, Jackson steals second without drawing a throw. Lilly strikes out Upton and Reynolds in succession. The count goes evens up 2-2 to Snyder. Soto runs out for a chat with Lilly. Snyder fouls off a few more pitches before striking out. That's seven for Lilly, a season high, says Len Kasper.
Theriot, Lee and Ramirez for the Cubs in the fourth. Theriot chases a 2-2 splitter in the dirt for strike three. Lee flies out to right on the first pitch. Ramirez falls behind 0-2 and fights one off to stay alive. He chases the same splitter Theriot went after and the Cubs go down quickly and quietly in the fourth.
D'backs 1, Cubs 0
Burke squibs one towards third. Ramirez cuts in front of Theriot, throws across his body and gets the runner at first. Nice play there. Haren pops it foul down the right-field line where Fukudome dances around the bullpen mound and makes the catch next to the bricks. Bynes grounds out to Ramirez and fake hustles down to first.
Fukudome misses on a 3-2 change and strikes out for the second time today. Soto takes a backdoor cut fastball (?) for strike three and Haren is carving them up. DeRosa rips a two-out double to the left-field corner. He's got both of the Cubs' hits today. They'll put Johnson on with first base open and Lilly due up next. Lilly foils that strategy with a single to center to score DeRosa and tie the game. As Johnson was taking a big turn around second he had to leap in the air as Young's throw from center went right though his legs. Soriano turns on the first pitch and rips a double to left, scoring Johnson. Second and third and two outs for Theriot, who grounds out to short. But the Cubs get two two-out runs to take a 2-1 lead. So much for the carving up.
Cubs 2, D'backs 1
Drew hits it deep to right but Fukudome catches up to it at the edge of the track just in front of the 368 sign. Lilly strikes out Young. Some guy sitting in the first row of the upper deck and wearing a pleather jacket and a white afro (a man after my own heart) makes a nice catch of a Conor Jackson foul ball. Jackson draws a two-out walk. Lilly gets two strikes on Upton and throws him a 94 mph fastball (that Upton fouls off) but I don't think I've ever seen him throw that hard. Though, that's on the stadium gun, which is probably a few notches faster than reality. Upton takes a called third and that's nine strikeouts for Lilly.
Lee leads off the Cubs' half of the sixth and grounds out to short. Haren tweaked something (maybe his ankle) on a pitch to Ramirez. Len and Bob are too busy showing off the new edition of the Heckler to notice. But I think Haren's fine. Well maybe not. He's walking around the mound now and has missed badly twice to Ramirez. Full count and Ramirez pops it up to short. Another full count, this oen to Fukudome and he draws a walk. Haren is not comfortable. Maybe it ws his knee. He doinked something falling off the mound awkwardly. Soto flies out to center.
Cubs 2, D'backs 1
Reynolds pops up the first pitch to DeRosa. One pitch, one out to start the seventh. Pitch-count police: Lilly's got 96. Former Cub Juan Cruz up in the Arizona pen. Current Cub Carlos Marmol up in the other one. Lilly gets Snyder looking at a backdoor, 3-2 slider. That's 10 strikeouts for Lilly. His career best is 13, Len says. Burke lines out to Johnson in center and here's some guy named Mark Grace to sing TMOTTBG. Never heard of him. He finishes up and says, "I love you guys."
In the kind of news that warms your heart, Jim Edmonds released by the Padres. It's the 15th anniversary of Mark Grace's cycle. He's the last Cubs player to do that. I know that's a rare feat but that seems like a lotta years. DeRosa grounds out to short. Johnson singles to center. Mike Fontenot, who wears Grace's No. 17, hits for Lilly, who had quite a game: Seven innings, three hits, one run, 10 strikeouts and an RBI single to tie the game. Fontenot flies out to center on the first pitch and Grace curses his name. I'm kidding! Soriano grounds into a fielder's choice to end the seventh. Cubs fans everywhere curse that.
Cubs 2, D'backs 1
Carlos Marmol to start the eighth will face former Cubs lovable mascot turned hated Cubs playoff killer Augie Ojeda and Ojeda singles to right on the first pitch. That ball was hit towards the line and Fukudome made a nice play to get over there and prevent the double. Byrnes strikes out and Ojeda swipes second. But home plate umpire Ted Barrett calls Ojeda out because Byrnes interferred with Soto's throw to second. His backswing got a piece of Soto. Big double play there for the Cubs. Drew flies out to Fukudome in shallow right and that inning changed quickly.
Juan Cruz comes on to pitch for Arizona and will face Theriot. Kerry Wood up in the pen. Theriot takes a called third on the outside corner. Lee rips one to the third row in left-center. Ramirez draws a walk. Brenly says Juan Cruz is listed in the Arizona media guide as 6-2, 145. 145? Fukudome singles through the hole on the right side. Ramirez stops at second. Soto looks at a fastball right down the middle for strike three. DeRosa draws a two-out walk to load the bases. Pitching coach Bryan Price and the entire Arizona infield converge on the mound. With the bases full of teammates, Johnson falls behind 1-2. Johnson patiently waits for a pitch and works the count full. Everyone on their feet, runners go and ... Johnson strikes out swinging.
Cubs 3, D'backs 1
Young, Jackson and Upton in the ninth for Wood, looking for his sixth save. Felix Pie comes in to play center for Johnson. Soriano remains in left. Wood starts Young off with two sliders for strikes. Young can't catch up with a fastball away and that's strike three. Jackson grounds out to short for the second out. Wood's working fast and throwing nothing but strikes. He's ahead of Upton 0-2. Upton grounds out to short and that does it.
Final: Cubs 3, D'backs 1
Ted Lilly throws a gem. He made the one mistake to Young in the first but was solid after that. The bullpen held up their end of the deal and the Cubs take the first game of the series. Thanks for reading everyone. Enjoy the weekend.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun