In Which God Willed it So

Oddly enough, I was outside during both rain delays. I simply got to the point where I couldn’t get wetter. At least not without developing the physical properties of a sponge.

Spongebill Soakedpants?

Nah, it doesn’t work for me.

Anyway, yesterday, before the games, I was talking to a forlorn Cubs fan who had noticed that the Red Sox dismantled a quarter billion dollars (yes, with a “B”) worth of bad deals foisted upon Beantown by He Who Walks on Water and Can Do No Wrong. On the plus side, there is biblical precedent for salvation being provided by a mono-focused Jew.

Nevertheless, my buddy was, as noted, forlorn. He figured the Cubs should have listened to me and signed someone else to be the GM and he kept whining about how it would take an act of God for Volstad, not to be confused with Voltron, to get a win. As it turns out, he was right.

Carrie Muskat reports that, while no one was lining up animals 2 by 2, there was some serious moisture cascading from heaven.

Enough, in fact, to get Mr. Volstad his first win since the NBA lockout began.

After waiting 413 days and 24 starts without a win, the longest wait for Chris Volstad must have been the extra 30 minutes on Sunday when umpires called for the tarp because of rain.

“The tarp being pulled in the ninth inning, it’s like, ‘C’mon, let’s get it over with,’” Volstad said. “It’s only fitting that it took pretty long, right?”

The delay gave his teammates enough time to prep for a victory shower. Volstad could finally celebrate a win Sunday, ending a string of 24 consecutive winless starts as the Cubs edged the Rockies, 5-0.

It was Volstad’s first “W” since he beat the Astros way back on July 17, 2011. If that seems like a long time ago, it was. He had to wait even longer as the start of the game was delayed 2 hours, 23 minutes, and was called after eight innings and another 30-minute delay.

Hopefully, he’ll get the “W” flag flying on top of the Wrigley Field scoreboard after the game.

“It was nice for him and I know that’s a huge monkey off his back,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “I think the team was incredibly happy for him.”

Not as happy as Volstad (1-9), who was pitching for the Marlins the last time he won a game. He gave up three hits over 6 2/3 innings, striking out three and walking three. His reward? The Cubs took the series, and he was showered in beer.

“He was really excited,” Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney said of Volstad. “When you’re an offensive position player and you have a game where your team wins and you contribute and have a couple knocks, you go home feeling pretty good about yourself. He hasn’t had one of those days in a while. He hasn’t had that day when everything worked out and they didn’t get a cheap hit off him and the defense picked him up.

“He’s been pitching pretty consistent of late and has been just getting some bad luck, and today we were able to get him a lead,” Barney said. “It was good. I think he liked the little shower we gave him.”

“I got a pretty big welcome reception, whatever you want to call it, when they called the game,” Volstad said. “Everybody was pretty happy. I was pretty happy as well.”

The Cubs had scored one or no runs while Volstad was on the mound in eight of his 12 starts prior to Sunday. He had not received more than three runs of support in a game until Sunday.

“The biggest thing was me putting up zeros—that’s always nice,” Volstad said. “They definitely backed me today and did a good job at the plate.”

The Cubs delivered when needed. Starlin Castro doubled to lead off the second against Jhoulys Chacin (1-4) and scored two batters later on Barney’s groundout. Adam Ottavino walked Castro to open the sixth, and he scored two outs later on Barney’s bloop single to center. Castro also scored on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Joe Mather in a three-run eighth.

“I think he’s handled it as good as anybody can handle it,” Sveum said of Volstad. “He’s very calm and collected most of the time. He doesn’t show a lot of emotion, good or bad. He just goes about his business and works and is trying to make adjustments.

“We haven’t gotten him a lot of run support either,” Sveum said. “He’s handled everything extremely well for the adversity he’s had to go through.”

The record for longest winless streak is 28 starts, shared by Jo-Jo Reyes (2008-11) and Matt Keough (1978-79). Volstad doesn’t have to worry about being added to that list.

He served up a one-out single to Wilin Rosario in the second and a two-out single to Jordan Pacheco in the fourth. With two outs in the seventh, Tyler Colvin doubled and Chris Nelson walked, and Volstad was pulled, tipping his cap to the crowd as he exited. Manuel Corpas got Jonathan Herrera to hit into a force at second to end the threat.

The key? Volstad had good command of his fastball, mixed in an occasional curveball and threw a handful of sliders.

“We didn’t hit today,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “Let’s face it, we got four hits today, three of them with two out and nobody on. You’re not going to do a whole lot.”

Volstad, accustomed to rain delays from his days with the Marlins, knows there have been factors contributing to his streak other than his performance. Sometimes luck is involved.

“There are a lot of things out of my control, out of the pitcher’s control, to get a win or loss,” he said. “Maybe it’s been a little bit of bad luck for me over the last year and a month, or whatever it was, but that’s baseball. Sometimes you throw well and don’t get that win and get a loss, and sometimes you don’t [throw well] and you do get a win. I think that’s why the streak, or whatever you want to call it, wasn’t a huge issue. I knew how I finished last year, and a couple games this year, everything just didn’t come together.”

It did on Sunday.

Two things need to be noted here. There are few games in the stretch where Volstad pitched well and lost anyway. Streaks, good or bad, require some elements of luck. That being said, he has only now gotten his ERA down near .... ahem ..... 6.18. That is a whole lot of bad pitching there my friends. His tour with the Cubs ends after this season and I doubt fans will see him again. At least not wearing Cubbie blue.

See, miracles do happen.

On the Southside it will take a miracle to keep Ventura from being suspended after dancing with Jim Joyce in the previous game.

And while last night’s game lacked any drama, it did feature a smoking hot brunette in the stands, enough water to open a Dells South and another memo from Tyler Flowers that he, gosh golly. might not suck. Our main man, Scott Merkin shares the whole soggy tale.

Someone upstairs clearly is supporting the White Sox chances for a 2012 American League Central Division title.

And Tyler Flowers’ power at the plate didn’t hurt the cause either on a rainy Sunday afternoon at U.S. Cellular Field.

Flowers erased the Mariners’ one-run lead in the bottom of the seventh courtesy of a 436-foot blast to center off Kevin Millwood after Millwood walked Jordan Danks with two outs, giving the White Sox a 4-3 victory over Seattle. The South Siders finished with a perfect 6-0 homestand, while still holding a 2 1/2-game lead in the division over the Tigers, as Detroit beat the Angels, 5-2, earlier in the day behind Max Scherzer.

Sunday’s game was called after a one-hour, 55-minute delay, during which the rain only let up for a few moments around 5:45 p.m. CT, and covered only 6 2/3 innings. The win for the White Sox (71-55) ended with Ray Olmedo on third and Dewayne Wise on first, after both had singled.

Major League Baseball’s Rule 4.10(c)(2) says a game is a regulation contest if it is called “If the home team has scored more runs in four or four and a fraction half-innings than the visiting team has scored in five completed half-innings.”

Flowers capped the winning rally, and a torrential downpour took care of the rest.

“A.J. [Pierzynski] was swearing to me that it wouldn’t count and we were going to lose,” said Flowers of his deciding homer. “I don’t know if he was just messing with me. We have good fun. But we found out shortly after the delay it was going to count.”

“We came in and had that rain delay and we didn’t really know what was going on,” said White Sox reliever Nate Jones, who earned his second win in two games. “They kept backing it up. We just stayed prepared in case we had to go back out here, but we’ll take it.”

A rain delay of one-hour, 51-minutes took place before the game’s first pitch, but it was a six-minute delay in the fateful seventh that once again worked in the White Sox favor. After Millwood issued the walk to Danks, crew chief Jim Joyce called for groundskeeper Roger Bossard and his crew to tend to the infield.

Two pitches after that delay, Flowers crushed a hanging slider from Millwood (4-11).

“I thought he said they were going to put the tarp on, but they just put the Diamond Dry on,” Millwood said. “Nobody knew what to do so we were just standing around. But either way, it didn’t affect what happened.

“For the most part, I was able to throw the ball where I wanted to all day. Then, when I really needed to, I didn’t.”

It wasn’t a complete victory for Robin Ventura’s crew in more ways than one.

Gavin Floyd started and worked just two innings and 42 pitches before leaving with right elbow discomfort. Floyd allowed one run on three hits over two innings, walking one and striking out one. Floyd previously was on the disabled list retroactive to July 8 with right elbow tendinitis, and said that he will stay back in Chicago on Monday when the team is in Baltimore and have tests, including an MRI.

Manager Robin Ventura said it was highly unlikely that Floyd would make his next start in Friday’s series opener against the Tigers at Comerica Park.

“It’s one of those things I wish I could take the inflammation out and keep on going. That’s not the case,” Floyd said. “I feel great otherwise. I’ve just got to do whatever possible to get back out on the field. I just hope it happens quick.”

Hector Santiago worked four innings in relief, giving up Casper Wells’ go-ahead two-run shot in the fifth and departing with runners on first and third with nobody out in the seventh. Jones came on to retire Wells on a weak flyout to right fielder Alex Rios, and after Brendan Ryan failed to successfully put down a safety squeeze, Ryan floated a little spinner to second that Olmedo caught.

Jones (7-0) finished the inning by striking out Trayvon Robinson looking after walking Dustin Ackley to load the bases. He needed just one pitch to get the victory Saturday, and threw 18 more on Sunday to stay unbeaten.

“As a reliever, wins and losses don’t really matter,” Jones said. “Just come in and do your job. It just happens that we hit the ball after I got in.”

Ryan’s error on a routine Rios grounder in the second helped produce the first White Sox run, scoring on Danks’ sacrifice fly. The White Sox added another run in the third when right fielder Eric Thames misplayed Kevin Youkilis’ sinking liner to right into a triple that brought home Olmedo.

This rain-soaked win gave the White Sox their seventh perfect homestand of six games or more in franchise history. It was their first since July 5-11, 2010, when they went 7-0 against the Royals and Angels. They have a 21-10 record in their last 31 games and have won 21 of their last 26 at home.

In this series finale, the White Sox benefited from weather-related help.

“Mother Nature is looking at us and giving us the blessing,” Santiago said. “Snake a win right there, hit a home run and then here you go, get out of here and go on the road trip. Leave home sweeping six straight.”

“Sometimes Mother Nature just doesn’t agree with what’s going on,” White Sox captain Paul Konerko said. “All you can hope is that you’re on the good end of it and today we were.”

I called a buddy of mine about Floyd. He said this is different than when he went to the DL and that, if this were October, he could have ptiched through it. He figures Floyd will miss a start and be fine.

CAVEAT: My buddy is a baseball expert but not a medical professional.

Lord, for the mercies of this night
My humble thanks I pay
And unto Thee I give myself
To-day and every day. Amen.

Yeah, that seems to fit.


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