Back on May 31st of this year, our very own Big Star noted that Carlos Marmol is Awesome! When you read the thread, and I know you will, you’ll note that “Awesome” is used in such a manner as to define “Sarcastic” very elegantly. Who new you were going to get grammatically enhanced today?
I DID I DID!
At least I hope I did. It would be very disturbing to find out I was surprising myself.
Nevertheless, Chicago’s 2 baseball teams took to their respective fields yesterday and .... wait, let me tell you a story. My neighborhood is changing. Many would say gentrifying. All in all I think it’s a good thing since we are finally getting something besides tortillas at the local grocery store. I mean, everybody likes tortillas but there’s a limit. Anyway, one side effect of this change is that my humble neighborhood has become home to some of the ugliest drag queens in the universe. I saw one yesterday, in full drag, with a beard.
Why they are congregating around here is beyond me and I’m afraid to ask. I really don’t want to encourage them in any way. Of course, from a pure parental teaching moment, I can’t imagine any more fulfilling conversation than explaining to your four year old, while in the grocery store, why that man dresses funny.
Maybe yet another good reason I haven’t procreated. You wouldn’t want to know what I’d tell the little tykes.
Where was I?
Of yes, Chicago’s 2 baseball teams took to their respective fields yesterday and managed to come up with exciting endings for their games. Gene Duffey was at the Cubs’ game and doesn’t even try to hide his contempt for Sr. Marmol.
Mr. Excitement did it again. Only this time, the result went the wrong way.
Closer Carlos Marmol gave up a grand slam to Astros pinch-hitter Brian Bogusevic in the bottom of the ninth Tuesday night that pinned a 6-5 loss on the Cubs at Minute Maid Park.
The Cubs entered the bottom of the ninth with a three-run lead and Marmol, with 28 saves in his pocket, coming in to pitch after a day’s rest.
“It’s not an easy game,” Marmol said. “You’ve got to fight it. The slider wasn’t too good today. I was looking for a ground ball.”
“I was surprised,” said Cubs manager Mike Quade. “I was real surprised. He’d been throwing the ball well. He just didn’t get it done.”
It was Marmol’s eighth blown save of the season, but he had converted nine straight opportunities since July 31.
“When you’re not sharp, sometimes you get beat,” Quade said. “He wasn’t as good as he normally is, and his fastball command left him. He got himself in a position where that one swing can beat you. It’s one of those things.”
The Cubs are accustomed to watching Marmol pitch himself out of trouble, but he couldn’t get the out pitch he needed.
“You’re not going to have your best stuff all the time, especially when you go out there every day,” said Cubs catcher Koyie Hill. “You’ve got to figure out a way to get outs, and for the most part, he’s done that, whether it’s the prettiest thing in the world or kind of messy. He always figures out a way to get it done.”
Bogusevic, who had only one previous homer in 61 at-bats this season, didn’t seem to be a likely candidate to hit a slam.
“He’s been late on some fastballs,” Hill said. “He was behind on the first two fastballs we threw him. Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish him off with the two sliders. Then we threw him a fastball, and he knocked the [heck ]out of it.”
This wasn’t a cheap shot into the nearby Crawford Boxes in left field, only 315 feet from home plate. Bogusevic drove Marmol’s pitch 423 feet to center.
“The first couple of pitches he threw me were fastballs,” Bogusevic said. “I was trying to be aggressive, but maybe a little bit overaggressive. I swung at some pitches I couldn’t really handle. After some sliders down came to me, the pitch I hit was a fastball more down in the zone. It was a little bit better pitch to handle.”
There were indications right away that Marmol wasn’t sharp.
Rookie Jimmy Paredes, who led off the ninth, lined out to left field on a sharply hit ball for the first out. Marmol then threw a wild pitch mixed around singles by J.B. Shuck and Clint Barmes. A walk to pinch-hitter Matt Downs loaded the bases.
Marmol has been there many times before. Typically, he would strike out the last two batters, or get a double-play grounder to end the game. But the Astros’ rally took a win away from right-handed starter Ryan Dempster.
“That’s a bummer,” Dempster said. “This is a tough loss. We had a chance to win the series. It’s tough being on the other end sometimes. Anything can happen.”
Dempster pitched seven innings, allowing just four hits and two runs while striking out seven. He threw 117 pitches, two short of his season high.
“I didn’t make it easy on myself early,” said Dempster, who escaped a first-inning threat with just one run attached to his name. “I just tried to keep making pitches and see if I could get some quick outs.”
Tyler Colvin, who is batting just .135 on the season contributed a two-run homer in the sixth that gave the Cubs a 4-1 lead.
“It felt good, felt good for us,” Colvin said. “Gave us the lead.”
Aramis Ramirez, 13-for-26 on the road trip, singled in a run in the first inning and homered to lead off the eighth.
Yes, that is what the Cubs are reduced to. Celebrating one good inning or at bat. If the team hadn’t spent more than the gross national product of Lichtenstein fans might even take hope out of those moments. Speaking of the future, the Cubs did sign all but one of their draft picks. With these moves the Cubs went from the bottom third of MLB to the top in spending on player development. No word on if any of those picks will ever get to see the wonders of Boise, Idaho.
On the Southside they decided to try an exciting new way to end a game. Well, actually, they decided to try an exciting new way to see if a game could possibly last forever. The fact that it ended almost seems like an accident. Steve Rosenbloom was at the game and reports that even the umps were napping by the time this thing ended.
The White Sox finally got over .500.
Happened while you were sleeping.
They beat the Indians on Wednesday morning.
Came on a Juan Pierre single in the bottom of the 14th.
An inning after the Indians loaded the bases with one out but failed to score.
Moved the Sox within a half-game of Cleveland for second place.
And it couldn’t have felt less fun.
It couldn’t have felt more painful.
It couldn’t have felt more 2011 Sox.
I mean, even with a win, they continue to deliver the most exasperating, frustrating, dadgummit-inducing season in who knows how long.
The Sox had a 5-2 lead and blew that.
The Sox had a 7-5 lead in the eighth, and blew that, giving up single runs in the eighth and ninth.
The Sox had two on and one out with Paul Konerko coming up in the 10th, but the guy you’d want to have at the plate gounded weakly into a double play.
The Sox had a leadoff triple in the 11th from Alex Rios --- Alex freakin’ Rios, do you hear me? --- and left him there as Brent Lillibridge got doubled off first on a line drive to third.
The Sox had Brent Morel on second with one out in the 12th. Nope.
The Sox had Alexei Ramirez on second in the 13th. Nothing.
Then Pierre ended the misery.
It shouldn’t feel this miserable, especially in an August victory that means something, especially when the Sox got a homer from Pierre earlier.
You’re looking for hope with these guys, and it gets harder to find amid starter Gavin Floyd and the bullpen blowing leads early and late.
But the Sox are over .500 now. That’s hope—the most hope they’ve had since they were 7-6 on April 15.
They’ve won three in a row at home against AL Central teams. Winning at home for this sorry bunch and beating divisional foes offers even more hope. They have won 10 of their last 12 AL Central games, including five in a row over the Indians.
Even though I wrote these guys off in May, I can see where hope exists. This is a weak division on any night that Justin Verlander isn’t pitching. As horrible as some of the most expensive parts of this team have been, this team is still only 3 1/2 games out of first and could be alone in second after tonight (or tomorrow morning). So, you want to believe.
Part of that is because you feel you deserve something from this agonizing season. All that suffering since April grows like the national debt, and you want to get paid off.
Another part of it is, these guys are not unlikable. You’ve seen those Sox teams, right, Terry Bevington? This isn’t one of them. Adam Dunn flat stinks and shouldn’t be starting, but he’s not Joey Belle Ugly, a condition that causes shrieking, retching, and involuntary attempts to gouge out one’s eyes. In other words, it wouldn’t hurt to cheer for Dunn, if he actually gave you something to cheer about. Pierre, same deal. Everybody except Ozzie Guillen wanted him gone on May 1 because he was the worst player in baseball, but you could at least smile after his at-bat around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Look, you’re a fan. It’s part of the deal. It’s in your contract with America’s pastime. Even the most cold-eyed realist is a closet baseball romantic. You always want to think it could happen. You want to think it could happen with these guys.
But you just know that as soon as you invite them into your house, they’ll blow their noses on the drapes.
Well, maybe on the guest towels, I think they’re too well mannered to use the drapes. Joe Cowley, who suddenly took over Elliott Harris’ old role at the Sun Times and seems to have gotten the budget Elliott was denied, took some time out of his busy day to write an entire column letting people know that Adam Dunn isn’t having a good year.
Because, you know, no one with an IQ above lint could have figured that out by now. Next week expect a column about how Carlos Zambrano might have emotional issues.
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Our very own blogger Roman F has taken over today’s front page.
Recently, a member of the Chicago sports industry threw a tantrum and said he was quitting on his team. This followed years of near-quitting and clashes with teammates, despite (or because of?) being coddled by the team, being considered the team’s star and being the team’s highest paid player.
And no, I’m not talking about Carlos Zambrano.
The opening word ,“recently,” is relative and while Big Z’s “retirement” is the topic du jour, it wasn’t so long ago that another member of the Chicago sports scene quit on his teammates after things didn’t go the way he* wanted.
Eerily, Big Z’s career has resembled that of the namesake of this site. Consider:
- Both worked here in Chicago in the sports industry.
- Both worked for the less successful of the 2 teams in town (in Big Z’s case, it depends upon how you define success but I go by wins and I think most MLB players would do the same).
- Both were considered stars by the teams they played for, but ONLY by the teams they played for, not by anyone else.
- Both were the highest paid members of their teams
- Both thought they were big time stars and big time talents and often tried to make everything about themselves.
- Both were overgrown crybabies who thought that the standards of professionalism in their industries didn’t apply to them.
- Both were known to hold their teams hostage and create bad environments by being moody and abrasive.
- Both were quick to make excuses and blame others for their own poor performances.
- Both were known to publicly throw teammates under the bus.
- Both were quick to dish it out to others but had very thin skin.
- Both were prone to emotional meltdowns.
- Both were known to fight with teammates. One actually came to blows, the other came close.
- Both were continually coddled and enabled by their teams despite their bad behavior. Both teams were bereft of stars and were fearful of letting their “star” go to another team.
- Both often threatened to retire or quit when things didn’t go their way and for both, their teams would acquiesce to their wishes in a continuance of coddling and enabling.
- Both, after a tough day at the office, told their bosses, “I quit.” One did so directly through email, the other indirectly through clubhouse staff.
I’ll do my best to answer the question I raised in the opening paragraph. Did Big Z and Little J act up despite being treated and paid like their team’s biggest stars, or because of it? I can only write of my own experience: When you treat someone like he’s extra special and like you can’t live without him, he will treat you like he’s extra special and you can’t live without him (substitute “he” and “him” with “she” and “her” and it’s even more true).
Well, after hearing “I quit,” one team said, “ok,” let the pseudo star go, never looked back, and hasn’t missed a beat since.
Let’s see what the other team does.
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Last Friday was a real good day for a buddy of mine. Called into the boss’ office at the end of the day he feared the worst. Instead he found out he’d been promoted and gotten a 25% raise. By the time he was getting in his car his cell phone rang and he found out that his ex-wife had run off to Vegas and married this week’s boy toy, thus ending several years of alimony payments. So, Sunday he invited a few friends over to his favorite bar and bought us drinks all day.
We also watched baseball.
One of my friends, ever the diplomat, hired a stripper who looked EXACTLY like my buddy’s ex.
All in all it was a fun way to kill a Sunday.
Anyway, during those rare moments where we weren’t slack jawed in awe (this was a nimble and adventurous lass, that’s all I’m saying), we managed to pay attention to the idiot boxes long enough to tell the Cubs and Sox apart.
What? You want to know about the Bears’ game? Okay, here’s all you need to know; the new and improved O-line allowed 9 sacks against the worst team in the NFL and everybody at Halas Hall was pleased with the progress.
Kill me now.
Anyway, as it turned out, this young lass also had the good breeding to be a Sox fan. A fact that endeared her to all of us immediately. Well, that and all the other stuff she did.
However Chris Cox wasn’t with us, he was in Atlanta watching the Cubs game and getting paid for it, so I’ll let him tell you about the Cubs come-from-behind (I’ll never think of that particular phrase the same way again) victory over the Braves.
It wasn’t pretty, but they’ll take it.
Despite striking out 18 times and committing four errors, the Cubs left Turner Field on Sunday afternoon with 6-5 win over the Braves, and a series victory, thanks in part to Carlos Pena’s go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh inning.
“It’s very seldom that happens,” Pena said. “We’re happy to come out with the victory today. We didn’t play good defense. At the same time, I’m proud of the ballclub because we just kept coming.”
After suffering through the Braves’ home run barrage on Friday night, and the drama surrounding pitcher Carlos Zambrano, the Cubs rallied to win the final two games in Atlanta. It represented the first time Chicago has won four consecutive series since September 2008.
“I think we finally just stopped worrying about everything,” pitcher Matt Garza said. “You get to the point where we’re at, we want everything to be good, but just shut up and play. That’s all we can do.
“We’re playing and having fun. You see guys smiling. It might have taken five or six months, but I think my message finally got across.”
It was Garza that had been stressing to the Cubs that things would eventually turn around. And while he spotted the Braves an early 4-0 advantage through five innings, the right-hander kept Chicago within striking distance before eventually earning a no-decision.
Garza is one of just four pitchers in the Majors this year to win five games or fewer while registering a sub-4.00 ERA in 22 or more starts.
“He believes. It has been tough on him,” Pena said. “It almost seems like it’s not fair. He’s pitched unbelievable games where we’ve just been unable to get him the win. He’s pressing on every single pitch, making sure he gives it all he has. ... That’s kind of impressive. Human nature, sometimes you give in to those things.”
Garza and his defense played a part in the early deficit Sunday afternoon. He had a chance to turn a routine double play in the first inning, but his throw toward second base sailed into center field, allowing Michael Bourn to take third. Bourn promptly scored on Dan Uggla’s sacrifice fly.
“I just launched the thing into center field,” Garza said. “That’s not called for. You’ve got to stay accountable for that.”
The Cubs’ defense sprung another leak an inning later on Bourn’s RBI single. They looked to have Braves left fielder Jose Constanza caught in a rundown, but third baseman Aramis Ramirez plunked Constanza in the back before the ball rolled into center field. Constanza would come around to score when Martin Prado’s base hit ricocheted off Ramirez’s glove.
The defense came through for the Cubs later in the game, though. Second baseman Darwin Barney’s fifth inning, highlight-reel dive in right field robbed Dan Uggla of a single, as the second baseman saw his 33-game hitting streak come to an end.
“Just because of the circumstances and all that, I’m pretty happy about it,” Barney said. “It was a good streak for him. He’s a great player. I think our pitchers are happy. They take a lot of pride in that. I’m happy for them. Sometimes, you get lucky.”
That’s when the Cubs finally took Garza off the hook. After forcing Braves starter Brandon Beachy from the game thanks to Pena’s sacrifice fly, Chicago tallied three consecutive singles—including a two-run knock by Tyler Colvin—off reliever Scott Linebrink.
Linebrink was pulled in favor of rookie Arodys Vizcaino, whose wild pitch with two outs brought home Alfonso Soriano from third as the Cubs pulled even.
“We fought,” Garza said. “We showed our grittiness and our ability to claw back when we can. We took advantage of their mistakes.”
The tie was short-lived, however. The Braves brought home the go-ahead run moments later thanks Chicago’s fourth error of the afternoon. Jason Heyward started the rally with a leadoff single before stealing second base. He came home on the next at-bat, when Alex Gonzalez grounded a ball to hurler John Grabow, whose throw to first was well over Pena’s head at first base.
But the error was once again negated by Pena, who sent a towering two-run shot into the right-field stands in the seventh off Eric O’Flaherty, giving the Cubs a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
“We put a big sixth inning together and, obviously, Carlos’ home run [was big],” manager Mike Quade said. “You don’t want to be trailing these guys when [Jonny] Venters and [Craig] Kimbrel come in. That was really good.”
Quade wasn’t kidding. The young Braves duo combined for six of Atlanta’s 18 strikeouts.
“That’s one thing about a strikeout. You can’t hit into a double play when you strike out,” Quade said.
I do love Mr. Sunshine. It’s almost a pity his career’s forever ruined for being associated with these losers.
I remember a manager, I think it was Leo Durocher, who said “Live by the homer, lose 100 games.”
Oh, what would he know?
Anyway, on the Southside, the Sox faced their odd nemeses the Kansas City Royals. While nowhere near as entertaining as the nice lady, they nevertheless kept their fans entertained on a Sunday afternoon. Scott Merkin was there and has all the highlights.
Knowing how accurate he reports things I can only thank God he wasn’t with me.
For the fourth time since April 17, the White Sox are back at the .500 mark.
That goal was achieved on Sunday afternoon through a 6-2 victory over the Royals before a crowd of 25,517 at U.S. Cellular Field. It was the White Sox eighth win in their last 10 games, moving them within four games of American League Central-leading Detroit (64-56) and just 1 1/2 games behind second-place Cleveland (60-57), which comes to town on Tuesday for a crucial three-game set.
With the White Sox offense producing in each of the last 10 games, aside from Bruce Chen’s gem on Friday, and the pitching holding at a continued level of excellence, Ozzie Guillen has to be encouraged by this latest return to the break-even level.
Guess again, according to the White Sox manager.
“Nope. Not at all,” said a smiling Guillen, who wasn’t really trying to be funny. “I’ve been sitting here for like three times in a row saying, ‘Yes, we’re on a roll,’ and all the sudden we go backwards three steps. We’ve got to continue to play the way we did.”
Guillen could be excused if he’s not ready to start printing postseason tickets after his team captured a third straight series for the first time since May 6-15 at Seattle, at Anaheim and at Oakland. The White Sox (60-60) last reached .500 on July 29 with an impressive 3-1 victory over the Red Sox, and followed up that stretch with six straight home losses, including a four-game disaster against the Yankees.
So, .500 is more of a cautionary jumping off point, with catching the Tigers and Indians serving as the primary focus. Capturing this series from the pesky Royals (50-71), and doing it at home, where they had lost seven straight prior to Saturday, is a more important way to move forward.
“We’ve had problems with Kansas City,” said White Sox designated hitter Paul Konerko, who finished 3-for-3 on Sunday and reached base five times. “We’ve felt more comfortable against teams that are in better circumstances than they are.
“They put a lot of pressure on you and they get a lot of hits and can score runs. After the first game, it would have been easy to crater and give away the rest of the series. We fought and won the series and we hoped to do that going into it. But it wasn’t as easy as it looked.”
Even Sunday’s final outcome wasn’t as one-sided as it appeared.
The White Sox jumped on Jeff Francis (4-13) for four in the first inning, with Carlos Quentin singling home the first run, and Brent Lillibridge’s 10th home run accounting for the other three. Lillibridge reached double-digit home runs in just 146 at-bats, while playing solid defense in the relatively unknown defensive position of first base.
“I’m looking for something out over the plate to just hit hard up the middle,” said Lillibridge of his home run. “He was trying to come in, but he left a fastball right out over the plate and I was able to get my hands through it and get it over the fence.
“It was a huge one. I hit the ball hard a lot [Saturday] and couldn’t find the RBIs, and it was frustrating. Keep on swinging and it’s going to eventually pan out. It was a big one early and I knew that was going to be enough for John [Danks].”
Danks allowed two runs on four hits over six innings on Sunday—improving to 5-9 after a dismal 0-8 start. For 5 2/3 innings, though, this start looked at it was going to be something historical for the southpaw.
Danks didn’t allow a hit until Billy Butler reached on a bad-hop single over the glove of Lillibridge with two out in the sixth. The play was originally ruled an error, but official scorer Bob Rosenberg quickly changed it.
Fans applauded when the error went on the left-center field scoreboard, but with Jeff Francoeur at the plate, the crowd began to boo loudly when the error was changed to a hit. Francoeur followed with a clean double down the left-field line.
“I was up there and it’s 0-and-1 and I hear everybody booing and I looked up and saw the hit,” Francoeur said. “So, I thought I might as well make it official.”
“You know what, I noticed the boos, which was one of the cooler things I’ve ever noticed out on the field,” said Danks, who threw 66 of his 105 pitches for strikes, and struck out six. “So, I knew they had switched it to a hit when I heard the boos, but I don’t blame Lilli at all. That’s a tough play and there’s nothing he could have done about it.”
Kansas City scored two in that sixth, cutting the deficit to four. But the Royals couldn’t get any closer against Danks, Jason Frasor, Matt Thornton and Will Ohman. Danks dropped his ERA to 2.29 in his last nine starts, while the starters’ ERA sits at 3.03 over the last 10 games.
Holding a 6-1 season edge on the Indians, the White Sox look poised to jump over .500 for the first time since they were 7-6 on April 15. The team is optimistic, but has been here too many failed times before to get cocky.
“There is enough games against the teams ahead of us that we can make some leeway,” Danks said. “It only takes a good week against the right opponents and we’re back in it.”
“I’ll take two out of three against anybody that comes to town,” Guillen said. “You just win the series, that’s more realistic.”
Since their disastrous 11-22 start the Sox are 49-38. Had they been on that pace since the first of the year they’d have over 70 wins by now.
But they weren’t so they don’t.
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Being zany is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. Dennis Rodman’s nuttier than grandma’s fruitcake and was still inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame. His zaniness drove opponents insane, not his teammates. Ozzie Guillen’s a certified whack job, yet has won Rookie of the Year, was a 3 time All Star, MVP once and won a Gold Glove. Then he followed that up with two World Series rings on 2 different teams as a manager or coach. Turk Wendell was so nuts he was actually given an award for nuttiness from Men’s Fitness. He had so many superstitions that Vudu priestesses thought he was odd. People who wore tinfoil hats and talked to their pet aliens thought he was strange. Yet he played in a World Series, is still very active in charitable works and is widely considered to be a very nice, if completely weird, kind of guy.
You get the idea. There are some people who are a little left of life’s main path and seem to still do just fine.
Then there are the rest.
These are the people who have crazy down pat, it’s all the other stuff like ‘success’ and ‘a life’ that seems to elude them.
Carlos Zambrano, who’s teetered between both crowds, firmly joined the latter yesterday. In one stunning moment he did something not seen since Sosa hit the parking lot. And, even then, Sosa just left, he didn’t do all that Zambrano did. CHRIS COX, the MLB writer, not the world famous DJ/Remixer, was at the game in Atlanta and managed not to laugh.
At least not publicly.
Carlos Zambrano may be calling it quits.
Minutes after the Cubs’ 10-4 loss to the Braves on Friday night, manager Mike Quade said that Zambrano had cleaned out his locker and reportedly told those in the clubhouse that he was retiring.
“His locker is cleaned out. He’s gone,” Quade said. “I don’t know what else to make of that. I’m running a ballgame and I’ve got 24 guys that I care about, so I didn’t have time to speak to him. But I come in here and see an empty locker, I figure he’s decided he’s had enough.”
Zambrano gave up a career-high five home runs earlier in the night and was ejected with one out in the fifth inning after pitching inside on consecutive pitches to Braves third baseman Chipper Jones.
He later packed up his belongings and left without speaking to Quade or other players. Several Cubs teammates were unaware of the news until being informed by reporters.
“That means he’s had enough, then,” outfielder Marlon Byrd said. “People retire for a certain reason and they’re done with the game. If that’s the case, I wish him well. I don’t know. I have no clue.
“He’s talked about it before when I wasn’t here. I guess we’ll see tomorrow. If he doesn’t show up, then we might not see him again.”
Byrd didn’t want to speculate on why Zambrano may be deciding to retire, saying that he would try to reach out to the right-hander when he left the clubhouse.
“There’s a lot of things that happen in people’s lives that we don’t know about,” he said. “A lot of things could be happening at home. We don’t know until we talk to him. ... Hopefully, the rumors about him retiring aren’t true, and he’ll be back tomorrow and we can talk about it.”
Quade is upset, but not because Zambrano didn’t inform him of his decision. He’s upset because Zambrano left his teammates behind.
“He walked out on 24 guys that are battling their [butts] off,” Quade said. “I don’t know where he’s gone or what he’s doing. I heard he might retire, or he’s talking about retiring. I can’t have a guy walking out on 24 guys. That’s for [darn] sure.”
Byrd has seen a teammate walk out before, but it’s a first-time experience for third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
“I’ve never seen somebody just grab their stuff and leave and retire,” Ramirez said. “And I’ve been around for a while. Players don’t do that. He’s been playing for a while, too. He knows anybody can have a bad game, a bad week, a bad month. It happens to everybody. He’s not the only one.”
Ramirez believes that Zambrano—who earlier in the year called the Cubs a “Triple-A team” and “embarrassing”—would be welcomed back.
“I think so. I can only speak for myself,” he said. “I’ve been playing with him for a long time. I know he’s not a bad guy. He just doesn’t know how to control his emotions sometimes.”
Byrd understands that Zambrano can be emotional.
“He’s a sensitive guy,” Byrd said. “Maybe tonight was just too much for him.”
Whether or not Zambrano’s decision is official remains to be seen, but Byrd isn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet. Zambrano has one year remaining on his five-year, $91.5 million contract, with a vesting option for 2013.
“I see him being frustrated and thinking about himself right now,” Byrd said. “If he goes home for good, then it’s a different story. If he shows up tomorrow, then we’ll see what’s going on.”
Just FYI, Chris Cox, the DJ/Remixer, got his big break in a band called Thunderpuss. It’s not germane to anything here, I just thought you’d like to know.
Anyway, there is so much wrong with this story I don’t know where to begin. Quade’s right to be outraged that the Big “Z” walked out on his teammates and didn’t even have the courtesy to say anything to anyone. Chipper Jones is lucky Zambrano couldn’t hit the side of a barn with a cannon yesterday. The entire Cubs’ bench was right to sit on their hands and let Zambrano get pounded into silly putty if the Atlanta bench cleared.
As for the Cubs, now what? Even Gregg Maddux, in an interview before the game, admits that their best prospects are at the single and double A level. None are ready for the bigs. Most aren’t even close to 3A yet. in other words, they’re a couple of years away. If all goes well.
I add that caveat since this is the Cubs we’re talking about.
Matt Garza, who has the best ERA of losing pitchers - and is among the best ERA of any pitcher, has to be wondering what the hell he agreed to when he accepted the trade. If I’m him I’m on my phone to my agent saying “I DON’T FREAKING CARE, I’LL GO TO KC. JUST GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE!!!!!
Speaking of KC, they beat the Sox yesterday. Just in case you were curious.
Big Star’s already started a Zambrano thread, so CLICK HERE TO GET CRA-ZEE!
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So I go to this shrink and he says “Tell me about your dreams.” So I do. About fifteen minutes later I see that he’s washing down Valiums with vodka and I’m thinking that maybe I should call someone for him, like, maybe, a shrink. Anyway, I excused myself, stiffed him on his bill and never looked back. That’s the way things are sometimes, people ask questions and aren’t prepared for the answers.
This really has nothing to do with today’s blog, I just thought I’d share.
By the way, I wisely used the money I’d saved to buy beer.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about rock hard sticks and men who rub their balls.
Yesterday was a day that three Chicago pitchers entered their franchise’s record books and one broke an MLB record. Since which one is more impressive depends entirely on which team you root for, I’ll simply state the facts,.
Kerry Wood, a/k/a Special K, became the third Cubs pitcher to strike out 8 batters in a row. The other two are Kyle Farnsworth and Juan Cruz.
Mark Buehrle became the second pitcher in Sox history to throw 18 straight games allowing 3 runs or less. He joins Harry “Piano Mover’’ Smith who did it in 1909. It’s a great story if you have a minute.
Sergio Santos broke Manny Rivera’s MLB record of pitching 24 straight road games without allowing a run by pitching a scoreless 9th in last night’s victory over the Orioles to bring his total to 25.
Santos thought that was cool.
Anyway, as long as were talking about elite closers, the Cubs sent Carlos Marmol to the mound in the ninth with a healthy lead and watched him do everything in his power to give it away. The fact that he couldn’t wasn’t really his fault. They were playing the kids and they actually caught the balls. SAM ZUBA was at the game and has the whole story.
After Carlos Marmol issued a walk to load the bases with nobody out in the ninth inning on Thursday, Wrigley Field grew quiet. Cubs fans had seen this before.
It was July 15 when Marmol gave up five runs in the ninth inning without recording an out in a loss to the Marlins. This time, however, Marmol pulled through in the Cubs’ 4-3 victory over the Nationals.
Marmol took the mound in the ninth with a 4-2 lead given to him in part by starter Ryan Dempster’s seven innings of one-run ball. He promptly walked two and gave up a single to load the bases. The Cubs’ closer got out of the jam, allowing one run to score on an infield single, as he struck out two and forced Rick Ankiel to fly out to deep center field, ensuring his 26th save of the season.
“Just a gutsy performance,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said of his closer.
Dempster, who earned his 10th victory and now has seven seasons with double-digit victories, gave credit to Marmol.
“He does a really good job of that,” Dempster said. “That’s the one thing about Carlos. Even in the toughest situations, you know he’s capable of getting that [out] because you’ve seen it time in and time out.”
Dempster’s lone blemish came with two outs in the first inning when Ryan Zimmerman sent his 2-1 pitch sailing over the left-field bleachers onto Waveland Ave. The right-hander followed the homer with a walk to Michael Morse before retiring 10 of the next 11 batters.
“The first inning, [Zimmerman] just barely got that ball over the wall—the back wall,” Dempster joked. “I hung a slider, and then I felt like for the most part, a lot of [my consistency] had to do with my fastball today, just being aggressive with it.”
Dempster (10-8) and Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann cruised through the first six innings, knotted up in a 1-1 duel. But with two outs in the seventh, Aramis Ramirez—a late scratch for Tuesday’s series opener with lower back spasms—launched a two-run shot into the left-field bleachers, putting the Cubs up, 3-1.
Zimmermann (7-10) struck out Tony Campana and Starlin Castro to lead off the seventh, and had Reed Johnson at a two-strike count before giving up a single. Ramirez picked up Johnson with the two-out blast. Carlos Pena furthered the damage with a solo shot.
After belting his 21st home run, Ramirez pointed to Johnson for knocking the two-out single that started the three-run rally.
“Reed is good,” he said. “Reed is a good player. He’s been good for a while. He knows his role. He knows he’s a backup guy, but he’s always ready whenever they need him.”
Johnson, who was 3-for-4 on Thursday and 4-for-4 on Wednesday, is batting .643 (9-for-14) with six runs, one double, one home run and an RBI over his last five games.
Ultimately, the game was decided by Pena’s two-out solo shot—his 22nd of the year.
“The pitch to Pena was the first changeup of the day,” Zimmermann said. “It was probably the worst choice I made all day. I really don’t know why I threw it.”
The Cubs finished their six-game homestand 4-2, and have won three straight series for the first time. On Friday, they begin a six-game road trip that features three games in Atlanta and three in Houston.
“We have a tough task coming up the next three days,” Dempster said. “Those guys are playing really well in Atlanta, so hopefully we can go out there and give them a good battle.”
No. A “gutsy performance” is when a pitcher inherits the bases loaded with no outs, not when he causes them. However, I do like the fact that when asked about the next six games Quade only referred to the first three, obviously assuming the next three will be easy victories. I guess it’s easy to be confident when you’re having a winning season and ..... oh, wait.
Anyway, on the Southside, SCOTT MERKIN reports that the team took some quality time after the game to watch TV.
As White Sox players and coaches dressed or ate dinner following Thursday’s 6-3 victory over the Orioles, it was hard to miss the Tigers-Indians game playing on most of the televisions in the Camden Yards visitors’ clubhouse.
Jose Valverde made quick ninth-inning work of the Indians for his 33rd straight save, changing the channels almost immediately back to other baseball action or even preseason football. That Detroit victory also kept the White Sox (58-59) four games out of first place in the American League Central with 45 games remaining, but placed them just one game behind the Indians for second.
It was just one Thursday ago when the White Sox were doing pretty much the same thing, minus the viewing of the Tigers’ game, getting ready for a seven-game trip to Minneapolis and Baltimore. The overall tone was a bit more subdued, coming on the heels of a four-game home annihilation administered by the Yankees.
But the White Sox are returning to U.S. Cellular Field for a nine-game homestand beginning on Friday with the confidence that this group can become an elite, division winner if their play continues to resemble this 6-1 road excursion.
“We just can’t go home and go 1-6 now,” said Mark Buehrle, who earned the victory in Thursday’s series finale. “That’s our problem. We do this for a week and then go bad for a week.”
“To come to the two places and win the two series was huge,” said White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who accounted for three of the White Sox 13 hits off four Baltimore pitchers. “To sweep one [Minnesota] and win three out of four here with a chance to win the fourth, hopefully that momentum carries over at home.”
One could accurately argue that Thursday’s victory was pretty much over after the first at-bats for Ozzie Guillen’s crew. It certainly was put to rest by the time the White Sox were done hitting in the third.
The White Sox scored four runs in the opening inning via five hits before Baltimore starter Chris Tillman (3-5) could retire a hitter. Buehrle eventually extended his streak of allowing three runs or fewer in a start to 18 straight, tying Frank Smith’s franchise record (1908). So basic mathematical deductions seemed to indicate three wins in four games for the White Sox against the Orioles without much adding on.
Guillen and his players were confident, but certainly not overconfident.
“Having those runs early and with Buehrle on the mound throwing the ball the way he has been throwing the ball the last couple of months, you feel good, a little comfortable,” Guillen said. “In the meanwhile, you never take that for granted. Those guys can come back in a hurry. They have a lot of good hitters out there and they can hit it out of the ballpark any time.”
Juan Pierre, who had hits in each of the first three innings and three for the game, started the first with a single and scored on Alexei Ramirez’s two-run homer. Ramirez ended a 0-for-9 skid with his 12th blast and broke loose from a prolonged 1-for-15 skid entering the night.
Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin and Pierzynski delivered back-to-back-to-back doubles, raising the margin to four. The White Sox hadn’t started a game this season with even three consecutive hits and the five straight hits in an inning tied a season high. Pierre singled home two more in the third for a 6-0 advantage, officially ending Tillman’s night, with memories of that disastrous first lingering.
“A bad start is always frustrating,” said Tillman, who gave up six runs on eight hits over 2 2/3 innings. “It wasn’t necessarily bad pitches but they got way too comfortable early. By the time I noticed, it was almost too late, you know?”
“All throughout the lineup in this series and the last one, we had production from the bottom and the top,” Pierre said. “That’s how we drew it up form Spring Training and it hasn’t gone that way but we’re right in the thick of things with six weeks to go.”
Baltimore didn’t go down without a fight, as Brad Bergesen held the White Sox scoreless for 4 1/3 innings in relief. Nick Markakis’ two-run homer, marking the 100th of his career, capped a three-run third against Buehrle, but those were the last runs the Orioles would score. Buehrle came up with a big strikeout of Markakis to end the fifth with runners on second and third and protect the three-run lead.
Buehrle improved to 10-5 on the season, giving him double-digit wins during the past 11 years or every year as a starting pitcher. He struck out six over eight innings and didn’t issue a walk for a second straight start, before Sergio Santos fired a perfect ninth for his 25th save and a Major League record with 25 straight scoreless road appearances to start a season.
“Coop [White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper] said I was going deep no matter what,” Buehrle said. “Get the bullpen a break. To get early runs, that always helps.”
“This guy, whenever he leaves from Chicago, he’ll be one of the best pitchers to ever pitch for the White Sox,” said Guillen of Buehrle, who threw just 104 pitches.
About the only way to make this week sweeter for the White Sox would have been to sweep the Orioles, while the Indians swept the Tigers. For now, the White Sox will happily build on their current standing.
“Great road trip,” Buehrle said. “To go 6-1 on any road trip is a plus. We’ve just got to take the momentum home.”
So, here’s the deal. Do what the Hawks did on their Cup run. Keep the team in hotels for home games too. Stick them in a Best Western or whatever and keep them from their loved ones. Do this until November.
Yeah, I’m an optimist.
Also, before I forget, a couple of people wanted to know why I haven’t commented on ESPN’s Chicago Hall of Fame balloting. The reason is simple, the list was compiled by a 9 year old with limited access to Google and I refuse to patronize something that is so clearly patronizing. Try coming here and patting me on the head and telling me what a “pwitty city” I have and you’ll go home with a f***ing stump.
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