So, the Cards took round one, 6-4 last night. The Cubs didn't play badly, but there were some, um, less-than-good things that contributed to the loss. First off, in the thirteen hits the Cubs got,* none of them were for extra bases. Thirteen singles. And they drew two walks (along with two hit-batsmen). It's hard to score a lot of runs when you're only moving one base at a time. Still, they scratched up four runs, which isn't bad.
*All thirteen hits came off Carpenter, which is a career high for him. And the Cubs still couldn't get the win.
The only problem with scoring four runs is giving up six. And two of those runs were less than kosher hits. I wouldn't have scored them as errors either, but they weren't your average plays. Just unfortunate for the Cubs. First off, Geo Soto did something to groin muscle while blocking a ball in the first inning. He didn't even get an at-bat. Hopefully it's nothing serious, I haven't really heard. That meant Koyie Hill had to do the catching, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I like Koyie Hill a lot and he is a fine catcher. But he isn't the hitter Geo is, and he unfortunately couldn't hold on to a great Fukudome throw that would have cut down the runner by a mile.* That hurt, but at least it looked like a baseball play.
*I wanted to say it was Berkman, but my scorecard says Berkman A) didn't score a run, and B) didn't have an official at-bat. Two walks (one intentional) and two sac-flies. There can't be that many four plate appearance, zero at bat games in MLB history.
Before that happened, though, Alfonso Soriano. . . well, he did Soriano things. Nick Punto, who I've never been entirely convinced could hit enough to stay on a big league roster (Twins fans, feel free to tell me I'm wrong), hit a line drive right at Soriano, which off the bat I thought was a pretty sure out. Except, when the camera panned out to show left field, Soriano was either on his face or his back. Neither way is very helpful in catching a baseball. So Punto turned it into an RBI triple.* At that moment, my brother and I both started typing texts to each other.
*This could have been much worse, but the Cubs were spared when Punto was called out for leaving early. Replay showed he was fine, but it was close enough that I had no problem calling him out on appeal. They had to slow it down quite a bit to decide that his foot was still on the base. Full speed, he sure looked like he was cheating off.
Me: Welcome to adventures in outfielding, this week hosted by Alfonso Soriano.
Him: Since when did you guys pick up Manny in the outfield?
It was not a good play at all. Even worse, Soriano had actually made some really nice plays earlier in the game. But all Cubs fans should know better than to take that for granted. In fact, all baseball fans should know better than to take that for granted.
On some more positive notes, Zambrano looks a whole lot better this year. The Cards are a very good hitting team (best in the majors by the stats, I believe), and Z battled and battled and battled out there, and some up on the good end most of the time. Seven solid innings to follow up a very good outing against the Dodgers. He looks as improved as Dempster looks lost. And, well, that's kind of the problem with the Cubs this year. No homers last night, though a couple were probably robbed by a strong wind blowing from right to left for most the game.
Round two starts at 8 (Eastern). Hopefully Garza didn't tire himself out too much playing cheerleader last night so he can out-pitch Westbrook.
Also, for the minor-league minded, you should set your DVRs to record MLB network at 11 so you can catch the Indy Indians play the Durham Bulls. I believe this will be in the regular Durham stadium, though. The teams played a throwback game on Monday in the stadium where they filmed Bull Durham, and both teams looked sharp. I don't know why, but Durham's pinstripes on top and solid whites on the bottom really worked for me.