If you’re a Cubs fan and, in a moment of abject despair, you take a goat into your front yard and commence booty banging it and the Cubs win that day, you know as well as I that you will do it again the next day. Disturbed neighbors and close-minded police be damned. You may apologize to the billy/nanny (depending on your preferences), but if that’s what’s required for the Cubs to go on a 10 or 15 game win streak, so be it. We’re talking about the fate of your team here.
Don’t worry, I’m not judging you. I’m just as guilty. Albeit sans farm animals.
I truly believed that, if I didn’t catch at least 3 innings of a Sox game at my local watering hole, the team was doomed. Last night put that fallacy to bed once and for all. I was unable to get there until the 7th inning. By then the Sox were doing just fine without me. Don’t get me wrong, I still want Jerry Reinsdorf to pick up a bar tab or two, but my ability to demand same has been weakened.
Yesterday, Ted Lilly of the Cubs might have delivered you the goat, although I doubt he’ll be buying me any beer. He, once again, had a shut out going and he, once again, lost. MLB.com’s CARRIE MUSKAT wonders how Lilly manages not to flay Gatorade containers into origami.
Ted Lilly and Lou Piniella shared a cab ride from their downtown Houston hotel to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. The two have been together with the Cubs for the same period of time, both joining the team in 2007. They have a special relationship.
Piniella is retiring at the end of the season, but whether he’ll have Lilly around for the final two months may not be known until Saturday’s Trade Deadline. Lilly did not get a decision in the Cubs’ 6-1 loss to the Astros on Tuesday. The question now is when—and for whom—Lilly’s next start will be.
“He wants to stay here, but he understands,” Piniella said of Lilly, rumored to be sought after by pitching-needy teams still in the playoff race. “He’s been a huge part of my four years. He’s a good young man. He’s a professional, and I’ve got nothing but admiration for him.”
Was this Lilly’s last start for the Cubs?
“Maybe,” the lefty said. “That’s what I’ve been hearing and reading. We’ll see.”
Rookie Andrew Cashner was rocked for six runs in the seventh inning, including four on Lance Berkman’s fifth career grand slam, and Brett Myers threw a four-hit complete game to give Houston the win.
Lilly didn’t overpower the Astros, as the Minute Maid radar gun rarely topped 90 mph on his pitches. The lefty struck out eight, scattered five hits, and walked three over 5 2/3 innings.
“[Lilly’s] been a model of consistency,” Piniella said. “He gives you a very reasonable chance of winning a baseball game when he goes out there.”
Sounds like a sales pitch. Once again, the Cubs failed to give Lilly any margin for error. He has gotten the least amount of run support in the Major Leagues, part of the reason for his 3-8 record. In his past three starts, he’s given up four earned runs over 20 innings for a 1.80 ERA. It’s been difficult for him to avoid all the trade talk and rumors.
“Sometimes things like that can help you, sometimes they can hurt you, sometimes they’re irrelevant,” Lilly said.
“I’d like to think that, of those three, they’re irrelevant. You hear about it, you read about it, you hear people talk about it, you guys ask me questions. There’s no doubt I’ve thought about it. Again, that’s one of those things you have to deal with, things in this game that don’t necessarily have anything to do with locating the fastball.”
Piniella has Lilly scheduled to start Monday in the series opener against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field.
“Let’s not talk about [the possibility of Lilly leaving] until we get some word,” Piniella said. “Let’s hope we’ll have him out there at Wrigley for us.”
Myers (8-6) struck out a career-high 12 batters in his 10th career complete game. He retired the first nine batters he faced before Tyler Colvin doubled to lead off the fourth. Colvin also led off the ninth with his 16th home run. That was about it for the offense.
“He’s one of those guys who’s kind of a throwback,” Berkman said of Myers. “He expects to throw 120 pitches every time out. That’s his mentality and part of what makes him really good. It’s his game, and he doesn’t want to come out of the game, and he really doesn’t care how many pitches he’s got. I’m glad to see him be able to finish that.”
He almost didn’t. Cashner (1-4) got ahead of Humberto Quintero, 0-2, to start the seventh but hit him. That allowed the Astros to lift Quintero for pinch-runner Jason Bourgeois, who stole second and moved up on Myers’ sacrifice. If Cashner gets Quintero out, Myers is probably lifted for a pinch-hitter. Instead, Michael Bourn was intentionally walked and Bourgeois scampered home on a safety squeeze by Angel Sanchez. Cashner had retrieved the ball and tried to flip it to catcher Koyie Hill, but it was too late.
“It was a tough inning for Cashner,” Piniella said. “On the squeeze play, you just concede the run and get the out and get the heck out of the inning. Those are things you learn as a young pitcher.”
“It was a good bunt,” Cashner said. “I thought I had a chance. I went and looked at it [on video], and I see I didn’t have much of a chance and should’ve made the play at first.”
Hunter Pence followed with an RBI single to make it 2-0. Carlos Lee walked and Jeff Keppinger was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Berkman, who drove a 2-0 pitch from Cashner to center for the grand slam. The Cubs’ bullpen was short-handed because of overwork, and it was Cashner’s inning.
“That was a tough at-bat,” Cashner said of Berkman. “The first pitch was kind of close and he made a good swing. I could’ve pitched him a little different right there. I put myself in a jam. It is what it is.”
It’s part of the growing pains for the rookie right-hander, who got a pep talk from Lilly. That’s one more reason why Piniella and the Cubs players would hate to lose the lefty.
“I just hope [Cashner] doesn’t worry about it too much and his focus stays the same,” Lilly said. “The game of baseball is crazy. It can be easy to doubt yourself at times. Hopefully he doesn’t. He’s got great makeup, and clearly he has a special arm and a very good, sound delivery to go along with it.”
“He’s a great guy,” Cashner said of Lilly. “I wanted nothing more than to keep the score at zero when I left the game for Ted. It didn’t happen.”
The rookie would like another chance to do so.
I actually felt sorry for Cashner. The one that got away just opened the floodgates. Until his miscue there was a real chance of both teams taking shut outs for the full 9 innings. But, that’s okay. Our very own Big Star was seen heading to a petting zoo this morning so I’m sure the Cubs will turn this around quickly.
Way to take one for the team there big guy.
On the Southside, as I mentioned above, the Sox were clinging to an 11-0 lead in the 7th when I was finally able to catch the game. I also discovered yesterday that my sense of humor doesn’t always translate well into Spanish. Luckily for me I remained unbruised and, about half an hour later, I heard the young lady (whom I had not meant to insult) suddenly say “OOOHHHH, I get it now!” and all was forgiven.
As LOUIE HORVATH of MLB.com reports, Gavin Floyd has also forgiven the Sox for not scoring any runs when he pitches.
The way Gavin Floyd has been pitching lately, one run probably could have sufficed on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field. But the White Sox offense gave him 11 anyway, and they won going away, 11-0, over the Mariners for their ninth straight win at home.
Floyd (6-8) continued his torrid stretch, holding the Mariners scoreless in his seven innings on the mound, collecting six strikeouts and scattering five hits.
In his last 10 starts, Floyd has given up just eight earned runs over 69 1/3 innings, going 4-2. The Mariners need no refresher, though, as they have seen his last 14 scoreless innings.
“I feel like I’m going out there and having conviction with every pitch and not concerned with the results,” Floyd said. “I just go out there and make a pitch and whatever happens, happens.”
Over those 10 starts, Floyd has not given up a single home run, nor has he given up more than two earned runs in a single start.
“I don’t remember any [stretch] better,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. “He’s throwing the ball well. That’s one of the reasons we got him out of there in the seventh. We don’t want to overuse him for no reason. The way we go, we try to keep the guys as fresh as we can until the end of the season so they still have some bullets left.”
Most of the reason to save Floyd on this particular evening came when the White Sox offense smashed Mariners starter Ryan Rowland-Smith for seven runs in the first two innings.
“It’s never easy on a manager to leave a guy out there,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. “He gave us five innings. But giving up seven early kind of forces you to either go to your bullpen and decimate it at that point or you’ve got to leave him out there. It’s not an easy situation for him, also.”
By the time Rowland-Smith left the game after pitching five innings, the White Sox had piled on four more runs, giving Rowland-Smith a franchise-record 11 runs allowed.
The most impressive aspect of the output was how little the White Sox wasted—despite getting 12 hits and two walks, the team left only two runners on base.
Part of that could be attributed to the bottom of the order, as they more than carried their weight on Tuesday—of the team’s 11 runs, seven of them were driven in by players batting sixth or lower.
The opening salvo came just two batters into the game, when Alexei Ramirez singled home Juan Pierre, who had stolen second base.
In the next inning, Ramirez hit a two-run homer. When White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko added a solo home run later in the inning, the rout was on. Andruw Jones also slugged a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Ramirez has been having a renaissance of late, as he is batting .367 in his last 29 games. Part of his turnaround can be attributed to the warmer weather that is making U.S. Cellular Field play smaller, but also making him more comfortable.
“I’m working every day and seeing more consistency and I know the pitchers,” Ramirez said through translator Ozzie Guillen Jr. “But the weather is a big factor. The weather is just like it is in Cuba. For some reason, and I don’t know why, I feel really comfortable hitting in really warm weather. That’s a big part of it.”
“I think that’s the potential we know we can get there,” Guillen said. “A combination of an unbelievable shortstop and put his bat in the same group at the same time. I think that’s something. We all know he can do that. The thing was how long will it take for him to get there. I’m proud of him, the way he plays shortstop. I really am.”
The win marks the 16th for the White Sox in their last 17 home games, as playing in Chicago has been very beneficial of late.
“I think we play very well here,” Floyd said. “We’re comfortable, we know the field very well and we have the team that fits this field quite well. It’s nice to come back here after a long trip and get back on our feet.”
With the Twins also winning big, the White Sox continue to hold onto a one-game AL Central lead. Even with the uncertainty of Saturday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline looming, all the White Sox players are worrying about is winning and holding onto the division lead.
“The team is inspired,” Ramirez said. “The goal is to keep winning every day, and that’s what everyone has on their minds.”
Got their minds on their money and their money on their minds.
Sorry, I couldn’t help myself there.
Now that the Sox look like the team we were promised in Spring Training, more and more fans are coming in off those ledges and discovering the summertime joys of a well made gin and juice. They are also enjoying baseball again. Granted, without a Capra Hircus on their lawn.