From the Cubicle

Live play-by-play of today's game from a guy who's on to the Cubs' plan to field a lineup made up entirely of second basemen

Are you familiar with the tale of Wally Pipp? I'm sure you are, but to recap: Pipp was the starting first baseman for the 1925 Yankees when in early June manager Miller Huggins replaced him in the lineup with a young kid from Columbia named Lou Gehrig. Pipp took a day off and then two and then 2,130 from the Yankees lineup as Gehrig went on to have a Hall-of-Fame career, providing a perfect, squeaky-clean foil to drinking-and-whoring teammate, Babe Ruth.

In case you didn't hear, Cubs catcher Michael Barrett apparently was in some sort of an altercation with his White Sox counterpart, A.J. Pierzynski, last weekend and received a today for his actions. It's just too bad they never showed a replay of this on TV.

Sure, we all know Barrett is no Pipp, who led the American League with 12 home runs in 1916. But the comparisons between backup catcher Henry Blanco and Gehrig are eerily similar. For starters they have the same tattoos.

What I'm getting at is we're on the cusp of The Henry Blanco era. This seemingly insignificant move will make all the difference to the slumping North Side Nine. As the song says, the Cubs are on their way.

and GM Jim Hendry, who constantly remind us that the 2004 and '05 Houston Astros turned it around after disastrous starts to make the playoffs and even the World Series and that the Cubs, like the mythical Phoenix, will rise from the ashes of an 18-28 start and reel off 53 straight wins.

Funny thing is I didn't see the press release announcing Hendry's signing of Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman. Huh.

We'll have baseball soon as Michael Barrett, having appealed his suspension, is in the lineup against the Atlanta Braves. Carlos Zambrano v. Tim Hudson today from Wrigley Field.

First inning

Zambrano throws quite a few pitches to Marcus Giles before walking him. I think pitch count already is an issue. Former Cardinal Cub killer Edgar Renteria who didn't do so hot in the American League strikes out swinging. Chipper Jones displays some warning-track power with a deep fly out to right. Zambrano walks Andruw Jones. Zambrano wheels and nearly picks Giles off second. Looks like they may have had him. Ump sees it differently. What are you gonna do? Zambrano goes full to Adam LaRoche and loses him to load the bases. Barrett trots out to the mound, possibly to slap some sense into Zambrano. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild joins him. Considering he's only got two walks all season, chances are Jeff Francoeur won't take a free pass. Scratch that. Zambrano walks the fourth batter of the inning and the Braves take a 1-0 lead. Ryan "the Islets of" Langerhans works the count full and then strikes out. Let it be known Zambrano got a gift called strike during that at-bat from home plate ump Brian O'Nora. Solid start from Big Z.

Braves 1, Cubs 0

Tim Hudson has no hair. What happened? Juan Pierre show his usual bunt shenanigans before poppping out to third. Neifi Perez gives it a minor ride to center but you're not going to get much by Jones. Todd Walker bounces out to Renteria and the Cubs down 1-2-3.

Braves 1, Cubs 0

Second inning

Todd Pratt flies out to right. Hudson dribbles one back to Zambrano for the second out. Giles flies out to right and Jones, in an attempt to toss the ball into the crowd, it slips out of his hand and goes straight up in the air. At any rate, a much better inning for Zambrano.

Barrett steps the plate and I didn't detect much of a reaction from the crowd. Barrett grounds out and then climbs into the crowd and dusts a few fans who didn't cheer for him. Kidding! Jacque Jones grounds out to Chipper Jones. Andruw Jones had nothing to do with that play. Aramis Ramirez smokes a double off the left-field wall that kills some ivy. They'll probably deduct that from his paycheck. Freddie Bynum grounds back to Hudson, stranding Ramirez on second in the process.

Braves 1, Cubs 0

Third inning

Renteria flies out to Pierre in center. Jones, Chipper grounds out to Ronny Cedeno. Zambrano fans Jones, Andruw and all of a sudden Zambrano is sailing along.

Cedeno bounces out to first. Zambrano strikes out. Pierre grounds a single up the middle. Walker lines out to LaRoche, who steps on the bag to get that all important fourth out.

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