I'm not a fighter, but this series has been all too civil for my liking. Spice things up!
You wanna keep the jaded Chicagoans interested in this matchup of two first-place teams? Take advice from this minor league manager. That man knows how to put on a show! Granted, he's probably not working anymore, but it taught us all valuable lessons on how to detonate a grenade.
There looked like there might be some tension between the White Sox and Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez yesterday. What, a guy can't hit four homers in a series without being vilified? As Ramirez ran out a fly ball in the eight inning, Sox reliever Octavio Dotel had some words for the guy. Turns out both were giggling like schoolgirls, so I'm guessing it was some friendly trash talking. They are going to stop by Claire's boutique and get those "BFF" necklaces later tonight.
I want some sizzle. I want an ejection. It's almost the Fourth of July, give me fireworks!
Today's lineups are here: Sox will use all the same personnel except Alexei Ramirez, not Juan Uribe, will start at second. The Cubs have a new left fielder in Mark DeRosa after Eric Patterson basically shot himself in the foot yesterday. And Daryle Ward is your DH today, not Koskue Fukudome (he's in RF).
There will no switching back and forth between Len & Bob and Hawk & DJ as this is a FOX-run show today.
Comment board is below; post at will. My email me here if you are stuck at work on a Saturday too.
Announcers to be announced soon. Also, baseball soon.
It's 83 degrees at U.S. Cellular Field with wind blowing out of the west at 15 m.p.h. Fox's forecast? Bragging rights. Cubs starter Sean Gallagher just bumped fists with Eric Patterson. Wonder if Patterson's not-so-good skills will transfer? Javier Vazquez's first pitch to Koskue Fukudome is a called strike. Fukudome fouls one off and we're even at 2-2. And now it's a full count as Vazquez's pitch goes a bit high. And then the dreaded leadoff walk. Here's DeRosa. Grace predicts a fastball that DeRosa can hit...and hit he does. A single just past Joe Crede's reach at third. Two on. That Mark Grace is smart. Derrek Lee, who had double-play-itis yesterday, has hit into 19 DPs this season. Second pitch and Lee cranks it the other way and that will score Fukudome. Cubs 1-0. Runners on the corners and no outs. Another slow start for Vazquez against the Cubs. He falls behind 2-0 to Ward. Oh wow, a strike! Brennaman calls Vazquez an "enigma" because you never know how he'll fare. Ward runs the count to 3-2 (he thought strike 2 was a shade low). He hits the next one right in front DeWayne Wise in CF for a single; DeRosa scores and it's Cubs 2-0. Runners at first and second. Ozzie Guillen comes out for a chit-chat. C'mon, get Don Cooper in that Rascal scooter for some words of encouragement. And the Chicagoland-area is under a T-storm watch. Thanks for the huge graphic FOX. Aramis Ramirez shanks one to RF for the first out of the inning; runners stay put. It's raining in New York. I know you care. Here's Jim Edmonds, it was his birthday yesterday. It's Grace's birthday today. According to wikipedia, one of Edmonds' nickname is "Lassie." Like the dog. Huh? Because he can fetch? Edmonds whiffs at the 1-2 pitch and Vazquez gets the strikeout. A visit from Ozzie and Javy is a new pitcher. Maybe he told him there's no ice cream sundae waiting for him if he loses. Geovany Soto is quite good. Breaking ball, strike three called. Brennaman: "What a difference when Vazquez gets high, er, ahead." Yes, because pitching high...never a good idea.
Brian Anderson gives the cutesy lineups. Carlos "Lego-hair" Quentin. There were some other ones, but I'm too embarassed for him to repeat them. Matt Murton did the Cubs lineup last inning; his were equally awkward. Gallagher gets Orlando Cabrera to ground to third for the first out. Pierzynski take ball one and then lines the next to LF for a single. Here's 'ole Lego-hair. Actually, that's kind accurate. Gallagher gets ahead 0-2 in the count before a low ball. Ball. Ball. Then a called third strike (slider) right down the middle which freezes Quentin. Jermaine Dye now, who Brennaman calls the "hottest hitter on the planet." He hits the 1-1 pitch deep to CF and it's outta here. Tied 2-2. Feeling hot, hot hot. Thome now. He hits the 3-2 pitch quite far into the LF corner, but it's foul and out of play. Somewhere, Hawk was yelling "Stretch." And the Thome draws the walk. Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild comes out to offer some wisdom to Sean. He then throws strike one to Crede (Sean, not Larry). Crede lifts it deep to LF and it bounces just off the bottom of the wall, it's a double and that scores Jim "Wheels" Thome. White Sox 3-2. DeRosa has to chase the ball after it ricohets off the wall. Eric Patterson? Is that you? Nick Swisher, who Brennaman called "a delightful character." He is kinda like a cartoon. Zoinks. Full count, few foul balls. Another foul ball and Swish lets his bat go flying into the stands. Weeeeee. 29 pitches thus far for Gallagher. The 9th pitch in the at-bat strikes out Swisher swinging.
White Sox 3-2.
So it's a low-scoring, pitcher's duel today, eh? Guess JD was up late last night after eating some bad food. Perhaps he made a run for the border. Hey, FOX just showed a Taco Bell commerical. Wacky. Mike Fontenot grounds out to Swish at first for the first out of the inning. Here's Ronny Cedeno. Swing and a miss and it's 0-2. And then it's another swing and a miss for Vazquez's third strikeout of the day. Mark Grace: A fan of Ozzie Guillen. I know you were curious. 1-2 count to Fukudome. And Fukudome goes down swinging too. Quick inning for Javy.
White Sox 3-2.
Alexei "Cuban Missle" Ramirez is up first. He was out yesterday because his wife was expecting their third child. Wonder if she had it? Amanda is always a lovely name for a girl. Oh, FOX just said he had a son...named Alexei. So congrats! He falls behind 0-2 after fouling off a few. He then hits one to the gap in LF for a stand-up double. Lou Piniella waddles out and barks an order at Gallagher. Then walks back. Piniella is still peeved in the dugout. Tempers! Flaring!!!! Here's DeWayne Wise. He lifts the 1-0 pitch to Fukudome in RF for the out. His bat broke too. Ramirez stays at second. O-Cab hits one just past Fukudome to score Ramirez. White Sox 4-2. It's a double for O-Cab. I imagine Lou is fuming. Pierzynski with one aboard and one out. Quickly behind 0-2. 43 pitches for Gallagher. And AJ strikes out looking on a fastball down the middle. Two gone. Lego-hair Quentin now. Grace also likes Quentin from his days with the Diamondbacks. Hits the 1-2 right to Cedeno for the easy grounder to end the inning. Sox tack on one more.
White Sox 4-2.
FYI: Vazquez is at 37 pitches; Gallagher ended the second inning at 48 pitches. First pitch swinging is DeRosa, swings it right to O-Cab at shortstop for the first out. Lee gets ahead 2-0. Grace says this year's City Series just feels different because both teams are really good. And the Sox fans have mellowed since winning it all in 2005. I'd say no to that last statement. Lee grounds it to O-Cab, it takes a funky hop and almost smacks him in the face. Ruled a hit, not an error. Camera in the Cubs dugout shows Gallagher sitting far, far away from his teammates. I think he's in a timeout. Wind is picking up a the ballpark. Ward falls behind 0-2. Low ball bounces in the dirt and off of AJ's, um, region. Ouch. Ward singles a soft liner to JD in RF for a single. First and second for Ramirez. One out. Ramirez lines it to Dye in RF for the second out. Runners stay put. Here's Jim "Lassie" Edmonds. Vazquez gets two change-ups in there for strikes, 1-2 count. Foul. Ball. Ball. And...ball for a walk. That will load the bases for Soto. First pitch ball. He rips, I mean rips, it to Crede. And Crede leaps and makes the nice stab. That guy isn't half bad.
White Sox 4-2.
James: Lou loves to change the lineups. Maybe he had one of his "senior moments" when he left out Theriot in favor of Cedeno. Theriot had a nice over-the-head-backwards catch yesterday too. JD is up first. Gallagher still on the mound for the Cubs. Dye singles into left field for a leadoff single. Thome skies it to RF, but Fukudome is under it for the first out. That was hit high in the sky, like a Phillip Rivers' pass. Here's Crede. RBI-double for him in the first inning. Here, he takes the 2-1 pitch to Edmonds in CF. Dye scampers back to first. FOX chats with Ozzie: He told Javy to be aggressive. B-E aggressive. B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E. Swish swings at misses at strike two. Nice changeup from Gallagher. Low ball two in the dirt and JD steals second base. Throw is late from Soto. Delayed steal b/c of the dirt ball. Swish pops it up to Cedeno at SS to end the inning.
White Sox 4-2.
Really, Cedeno made that catch yesterday? My bad. I'm a fraud. I just drank a bunch of coffee and my brain is just waking up. Fontenot has himself a stand-up double to LF to start this inning. He thought about three bases, but didn't try. AP just said Ryan Theriot was out of the lineup for a second straight game with a bruised hand. So there's your answer. Also, Scott Eyre to the DL. The Cubs recalled right-hander Jose Ascanio. Discuss. Cedeno falls behind 1-2. 2-2. Couple fouls. Now 3-2. Eighth pitch in the at-bat is fouled off too. Ninth pitch strikes him out swinging. Fukudome stands in there. AJ smothers a low one, and Fontenot can't advance to third. 1-1 to Fukudome. 1-2 on a swing and a miss. 3-2 count and Javy is at 79 pitches. Geez. Ball four outside. So first and second with one out. DeRosa now. He quickly falls behind 0-2. Getting a little dark at the ballpark. Here's the radar: Looks like some rain in the area, but mostly north of the Cell. 2-2 now to DeRosa, who enjoys bowling. 0-2 to 3-2. DeRosa lines it to CF for a single. Fontenot will score, White Sox 4-3. Fukudome moves to second. Here comes Ozzie...Cooper is on the phone to the bullpen. Ozzie pulls a Lou and does the sloooooow walk. Nick Masset and Boone Logan get up in the bullpen. D-Lee is up at the plate. First pitch hit keep to the track in CF. Wise misses it for a Lee double. Fukudome runs home, while DeRosa skips home (weird) and it's Cubs 5-4. Ward grounds it right to Swisher for the second out. Lee to third. Here's A-Ram. I think Matt Thornton started to warm up too. 93 pitches for Javy; 2-2 count for A-Ram. 45 hits with two strikes this season for Ramirez. Not now though, as Ramirez strikes out swinging.
Gallagher: 62 pitches, 39 strikes. And he'll face Alexei Ramirez first. Cook county under severe T-storm warning until 5:15 p.m. Fun times. Ramirez hits the 1-1 pitch to LCF for a solo shot, and we are all tied at 5-5. Here's DeWayne Wise. Brennaman says that Ramirez is a new man since having his son yesterday, blah blah blah. Dude, it's his third kid. I think he knows the drill. FOX chats with Lou and says Reed Johnson should be back soon. Lou's message to Gallagher: Throw breaking balls in the dirt. Interesting. Grace on Lou: "What a beauty." If you say so...Wise strikes out swinging. O-Cab also strikes out swinging. Here's Pierzynski. Gallagher walks him on five pitches. Highlights of the Mets-Yankees game. That Jason Giambi mustache is quite the work of art. I say Carlos Quentin should grow one. Quentin pops it up to Fontenot at second to end the inning.
Lou Piniella wants the lights to be turned on. And no, that's not a metaphor. Edmonds is up first against Vazquez. He singles to Dye in RF, who kinda stumbles while fielding it. Timber. Edmonds stays at first. Javy still in there. Hmmmm. Soto now. Big swing and miss at 2-1 to make it 2-2. And Vazquez rings him up while Soto watches strike three fly ball. He argues for a minute, then walks away. And that will be it for Vazquez. Boone Logan will be the new Sox pitcher. Logan is 2-1 and holds a 2.28 ERA. He also wears No. 57. Fontenot will be first to face him; one on and one out. First pitch is...a pickoff attempt to first. Logan wins the lefty battle, striking out Fontenot looking. Two outs. Cedeno up; he's struck out twice today. Quickly 0-2. And then he grounds it out of Crede's reach, right down the line. That's a double for Cedeno, but Edmonds pulls up at third (he's running with a tender foot). Quickly 0-2 to Fukudome. 1-2; 2-2. Just high, Sox fans groan. Another high one, but Fukudome can't check his swing. And that's two K's for Logan.
Gallagher still in there. He gets Dye first, who falls behind 0-2. Dye golfs it and Fontenot gets under the pop fly for the first out. Southpaw now in the seats behind the pate. He's the green one. Thome now. 3-1...Thome thinks it's ball four and leans toward first...but it's strike two. Thome eventually gets the walk. Gallagher is at 96 pitches. And Brennaman says it's starting to smell...like rain. Sky looks rain-ish. Crede runs the count to full before hitting a single to RF. Thome advances to second. 100 pitches for Gallagher; Lou paces in the dugout and Rothschild picks up the phone. No one up in the Cubs bullpen yet. Swisher rips the first pitch down the RF line, just foul. Fair ball, foul ball. Grace: "Dog-gone-it." Seriously, is that Hawk dressed up as Grace? Swish can't check it up and then misses at strike three. Two outs. The Sox's A-Ram stands in there with two aboard. Gallagher beats him with a fastball (Alexei fouls it off) to get ahead 1-2. Another fastball fouled off. Gallagher strikes him out too, this one on a foul tip. Two stranded.
Nick Masset is the new Sox pitcher, according to MLB.com. FOX still at commercial. I win! Can someone explain this jersey to me? Masset: 3.24 ERA, 0-0. He'll get DeRosa first. He grounds it to O-Cab, who makes a high throw but Swisher catches and tags the running DeRosa. D-Lee now. He singles it to Dye in RF. So D.B. Sweeney, of "toe pick" fame, threw out the first pitch at the game today. Here comes Ozzie before the Ward at-bat. And Masset won't get to face him, instead it will be Matt Thornton on the bump. Ah yes, Rob Mackowiak: Extremely memorable double header against the Chicago Cubs on May 29, hitting a walk-off grand slam in the first game and a game-tying ninth inning home run in the second game, all on the same day that his son was born. So here's Ward with one on and one out. Thornton strikes him out with a 96 mph fastball. Two outs. A-Ram lines it right to Dye in right for the third out.
Emailer Dave thinks the "Fukuthome" jersey is bashing Thome. Why spend all that money on an anti-Thome jersey when you could just buy Cubs' ware. Stupid. Gallagher still in there for the Cubs; 110 pitches (67 strikes). DeWayne Wise up first. He hit a homer in last Saturday's Cubs-Sox tilt. He goes down swinging in this inning. 8 K's fof Gallagher. Carlos Marmol warming in the 'pen. O-Cab now. He gets behind in the count 0-2. Then three balls. Smashed to straight-away CF, but Edmonds is there to haul it in. Pierzynski hits it off the end of his bat, a slow roller to second for the third out. Gallagher, rolling.
The Sox pitcher will be Thornton still. Piniella pats Gallagher on the back in the dugout, and Rothschild has a chat with him on the bench. So I assume that will be it for Gallagher. It's sunny again at the ballpark. Thornton strikes out "Lassie" Edmonds on back-to-back fastballs. Soto now, who was robbed of extra bases by Crede earlier. And Thornton strikes him out swinging too. Two outs. Quickly 0-2 to Fontenot. Then Thornton strikes him out too, this one looking. Grace: "Oh dear." Well put.
David, Medinah: Yeah, I was joking. Those tall dudes freak me out. I like the Rose pick. Carlos Marmol is the new pitcher for the Cubs. He'll face Quentin, Dye and Thome. So the easy part of the lineup. Karl_in_Chicago: The message board, not me, has gone quiet. Bye-bye. Quentin sails a homer over the wall in RF and the Sox lead 6-5. Looked like Quentin is late on that swing, but guess he got enough of it. Good job, Lego hair. Two straight up-and-in pitches to JD. Crowd is not pleased. 3-0 count. Then a strike. Then another strike. Then ball four. Thome pops it up in the bright sunshine to DeRosa in LF for the first out. Marmol falls behind 3-1 to Crede. But comes back and gets Crede to hit a slow roller to Cedeno, which he fields, steps on second and then fires to first for the 6-3 DP.
White Sox 6-5.
Karl_in_Chicago: I know, those Mariotti updates kicked ass. But he's afraid to go to the Cell right? Scott Linebrink is the new Sox pitcher. Cedeno starts things off with a grounder to O-Cab for the first out. It takes a funny hop to O-Cab's right, but he handles it. Fukudome hits a slow roller to O-Cab for the out. Two pitches from Linebrink, two outs. Looks like Mariotti is still in New York, writing about the draft. DeRosa now. 1-2 count...then called strike three on DeRosa.
White Sox 6-5.
Mike: I did not see that, but I wouldn't be too surprised. Marmol gone; Neal Cotts now on the mound for the Cubs. He gets Swisher, Ramirez and Wise. Swish fouls one off and it hits Soto and the ump right in the face. Two-for-one! Ouch. Bobby Jenks warms up in the Sox 'pen. Swish lines it off Cotts' leg, but it rolls right to Fontenot for the easy out. Cotts appears to be OK. Cotts gets ahead of Ramirez 0-2. My TV keeps freezing, so it looks like Cotts is pitching in slo-mo. Ramirez swings at strike three. FOX shows some Grace highlights, and we miss the Wise at-bat. But he singled up the middle. Here comes sweet Lou. There goes Cotts and here come Bob Howry. Howry is 2-2 with a 4.70 ERA this season. FOX shows Ron Santo in the radio booth. He went to the All-Star game nine times. Nine times? Nine times. Wise steals second on the second pitch to O-Cab. Tag a bit low on the hip from Cedeno. 0-2 to O-Cab. Popped up to Soto in foul ground -- inning over.
White Sox 6-5.
Sox closer Bobby Jenks will face Lee, Ward and Ramirez in the ninth. AKA: Uh, not three easy outs. Jenks is 2-0 this season with 2.08 ERA. Lee is 4-for-4 today. First pitch strike. Lee makes contact on the third pitch to the wall in RCF for a double. FOX shows up the tarp coming off the field at Shea Stadium. Yeah, um, there's an actual ballgame here. STOP! Will Ward bunt? Two pitches, two balls, no bunt showings. 3-1 (the one from a foul). Ward grounds it right to Swisher for the out, but Lee advances to third. RBI opportunity for A-Ram. Infield is in. 1-0 to Ramirez. He grounds the 1-1 pitch slowly to O-Cab at third; Lee stays at third. Two outs for Edmonds. Ozzie goes to the mound, but (duh) leaves Jenks in. Strike one to Lassie. Edmonds has never faced Jenks. He hits the next one to Alexei at second for the 4-3 put-out to end the game.
White Sox 6-5.
Final thoughts: Nice competitve ballgame. No ejections, but at least it wasn't a snoozefest. Sox bullpen nailed it down for a rocky Javy Vazquez. Timely homers by the Sox = a win. Sox go for the sweep Sunday night. And we'll be here to cubicle it all for ya. Thanks for reading!