“The End is Nigh!” the man shouted.
“Is there still time for hot chocolate?” Riley asked.
The-End-is-Nigh guy blinked. “Ah, maybe, I don’t know.”
- Jana Oliver, Forbidden
If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later.
- Mark Twain
Do you need more proof that the end is near and the Internet contains something for everyone? Very well, I give you Handjobs for Jesus.
That should do it. Feel free to enter full blown panic mode now.
Mindless gibbering is acceptable.
Cubs fans are staring goggle eyed at the impending apocalypse of a 100 loss season and the only thing that separates them from that ignominy is 8 little wins that the team must scratch out over the next 20 or so games. And the guardians left to battle against infamy are children. And what do those children have to say about it? That number is 7 now.
Clark Goble was there, saw the conflict and judged that it was good.
Another strong pitching performance carried the Cubs to a 5-1 victory over the Astros on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.
Left-hander Travis Wood controlled the game, delivering 7 2/3 strong innings and holding the Astros hitless through four. The Cubs, who scored their second series victory in a row, allowed just three runs in the three-game series.
Chicago has won five of its last six games after being swept in a four-game series in Washington.
“Not a bad finish after what went on in Washington,” manager Dale Sveum said. “To come back and win five out of the last six was huge. Tonight was a nicely-played game.”
Wood allowed four hits and one run with a season-high 108 pitches, striking out six and walking just one. Since Aug. 22, Wood has a 2.43 ERA in 33 1/3 innings. His ERA on the season is down to 4.23 after it spiked to 4.98 at the end of July.
“The ball’s coming out good,” Wood said. “I’ve been able to locate pitches. I just want to finish the season strong and show them I can handle a full season.”
For the second straight start, the 25-year-old tossed four hitless innings to open the game. Justin Maxwell singled through the left side of the infield to start the fifth.
The next batter, Matt Dominguez, hit a ball high to left field. Alfonso Soriano, standing at the scoreboard on the left-field wall, leapt to make a tremendous catch.
Maxwell, thinking the ball would fall in for a hit, was already past second base, so Soriano threw to relay man Darwin Barney, who threw to first for the double play.
“[Soriano’s] not typically been known for his defense, but his defense has been outstanding this year,” Wood said. “He put in a lot of work in spring and this offseason to get ready for this season. He’s made several outstanding catches for me this year.”
Soriano, who hit his 29th homer in the fifth inning and finished a triple shy of the cycle, didn’t want to talk about his hitting after the game. He wanted to chat about his improved defense.
“I think I’ve proved a lot of people wrong,” Soriano said.
The only run Wood allowed came in the eighth after Brandon Barnes doubled and pinch-hitter Fernando Martinez singled off reliever Shawn Camp.
“[Wood] got a little tired there at the end, but he did a heck of a job,” Sveum said.
“We were no-hit going into the fifth inning, and their pitcher threw well for them today,” Astros interim manager Tony DeFrancesco said. “He mixed pitches in and kind of dominated us for a while. He threw a lot of off-speed pitches that were cutting in on our hitters and we just didn’t make the adjustment there. You’ve got to give the kid some credit.”
The Astros loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth, but Camp struck out J.D. Martinez to keep a three-run lead. Carlos Marmol walked Maxwell to open the ninth, but struck out the next three Astros to end the game. Marmol’s ERA in his last 21 games is 1.66 (21 2/3 innings).
The Cubs grabbed the lead for good in the first inning. Barney singled, moved to second on a fielder’s choice and raced to third on a wild pitch from Fernando Abad. Wellington Castillo brought Barney home with a single.
In the second, third and fourth innings, the Cubs stranded runners. Soriano’s solo homer in the fifth gave the Cubs a 2-0 advantage.
Joe Mather plated the Cubs’ third run in the seventh, coming home on an RBI single by Soriano, who was tagged out trying to stretch the hit into a double.
Dave Sappelt, who finished 3-for-3 with a walk and a double, scored in the eighth on Anthony Recker’s double. Sappelt went 6-for-10 with four doubles and three RBIs in the series.
Sveum wouldn’t guarantee he’d get Sappelt into the lineup a lot with Brett Jackson set to return Friday, but Sappelt’s efforts in Houston could help him find a few more pinch-hitting opportunities going forward.
“The bat has always been something that’s appealing,” Sveum said.
Soriano doubled in the ninth, making way for pinch-runner Tony Campana. The speedy outfielder took off toward third, drawing a high throw from Chris Snyder. Campana scored on the error.
This was the final series between the Cubs and Astros in Houston as National League opponents. The Astros will be moving to the American League West in 2013. The teams aren’t finished playing yet, though—the Astros will head to Wrigley Field for the final series of the season in October.
The Cubs’ kids have shown flashes of brilliance, a good omen if e’er there was one, and reminded us why they are rookies. Last night was more of the former than the latter. Yes, it was against the godawful Astros and, yes, it meant nothing. But success is a learned behavior and you take your schooling where you can.
Meaningless fact: Jay Cutler used to throw passes to A.J. Pierzynski when he was preparing to audition for the NFL.
Anyway, last night millions of Sox fans put their lawn chairs on a ledge and prepared to fall forward into the great unknown. Clinging to a 2 game lead over the hated Tigers they went out and spit the bit. Cash Kruth was there and was drinking Draino by the 7th inning.
Things are getting crowded atop the American League Central.
A late rally wasn’t enough for the White Sox to overcome Max Scherzer’s early dominance, and they fell to the Tigers, 8-6, on Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
Chicago’s loss was its second through three contests of this four-game series, which concludes on Thursday.
Despite dropping two of the first three, the White Sox remain in first place, by one game, over the Tigers. A win on Thursday—a tough task against reigning AL Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander—would give them what they had two days ago: a two-game lead.
“We need to come out and win the game tomorrow and we’re right back where we started this four-game series, with four less games on the schedule,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said.
The White Sox fought in the late innings, hitting the Tigers’ bullpen much more successfully than they did Scherzer.
Third baseman Kevin Youkilis hit two home runs, including a three-run shot in the eighth that brought the White Sox to within three, and the White Sox added a run in the ninth on an Alexei Ramirez groundout. But Tigers closer Jose Valverde struck out Orlando Hudson for his 30th save of the season.
The comeback attempt was nice, but as Pierzynski said, it does nothing and matters zilch for the White Sox as they prepare for tomorrow’s showdown with Verlander.
“There’s no moral victories anymore,” Pierzynski said. “It’s just about winning or losing.”
Youkilis put the White Sox in an early position to win with a solo homer in the fourth, but the Tigers quickly answered against righty Gavin Floyd (9-10, 4.59 ERA).
Tigers outfielder Brennan Boesch opened the fifth with a single before Floyd walked Jhonny Peralta. After a sacrifice bunt, Boesch scored on Omar Infante’s groundout to short.
Austin Jackson singled in Peralta to end Floyd’s night, then Miguel Cabrera welcomed reliever Hector Santiago with an RBI single to score Jackson and put Detroit ahead by two.
The Tigers added three with one swing of the bat by Prince Fielder, who blasted a three-run homer off lefty Leyson Septimo in the seventh, and another two in the eighth.
Fielder’s homer came off Septimo rather than fellow left-hander Donnie Veal, who, after getting Fielder to fly out in the ninth, has retired all 21 left-handed batters he has faced this season.
“It just becomes a time you’re using Donnie every night,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Prince has seen him quite a few times, so you’re looking for a different look.”
Scherzer (16-6, 3.77) scattered four hits and struck out seven in six innings, improving to 6-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his last seven starts.
“He’s been terrific. He was terrific again tonight,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “It’s not the easiest place to pitch, obviously, particularly when you’ve got a really good team you’re playing against.”
Floyd, who entered Wednesday 7-2 in his career against Detroit, struck out seven and walked one in 4 2/3 innings in his return from the disabled list. He threw 69 pitches and said he felt no pain; Pierzynski said the righty was “as good as I’ve seen him in a long time.”
Thursday’s matchup is the final of the season between the AL Central’s top two teams and two of the division’s top pitchers, as lefty Chris Sale opposes Verlander. The Tigers have continued to dominate the rivalry, winning 12 of 17 this season, but it’s the White Sox who sit alone in first place—at least for one more day.
A win on Thursday gives the White Sox the same lead they had beginning play on Monday. A loss and the division is tied, the eventual winner being the team that plays better the rest of the way—no matter Thursday’s outcome.
“We’re going to have to win games after tomorrow, too,” Ventura said. “We’re going to face good pitchers just like [Verlander]. Everybody else that we’re going to face has good pitchers, anybody can beat you on any day.
“You’ve got a lot of people you’re going to play on the schedule that are good. You just continue to play.”
Still not exactly sure why Floyd was yanked. I believe he could have gotten out of that inning.
But that’s just me.
Oh well, both teams still have to face the Royals and both teams have had problems with them this year. In other words, this is going to an interesting race to the finish no matter what happens here today.
That being said, a win by the Good Guys would be nice.
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