I was looking up baseball cheerleaders and found the pic on the right. You’re welcome.
It’s been a busy week in B3-Land (a fun place to visit). My day job had two major client related projects land at the same time so we ended up working every day from 4:30 AM until about 8:00 PM. On the plus side we got everything done in time. On the down side it was a hellaciously long week. So, forgive me if I’m a little sluggish right now.
Not that it excuses my behavior last Saturday. I met this little hottie who happened to have an Adam’s apple. Since beer had been imbibed I figured what the hell. I mean, just bend her back a couple more inches and you’ll never tell the difference.
Fortunately for all involved she had a sober friend who prevented that particular tragedy.
Her friend did not have an Adam’s apple. Sadly, for me, her friend played for the other team.
It was just one of those days.
Speaking of teams, our two Chicago baseball teams took their gaudy winning streaks out last night and tried to Viagra them. Carrie Muskat went to San Francisco to have some sourdough and catch the game.
The first inning set the tone Friday.
In the Cubs first, Tony Campana singled, and eventually reached third. But he was stranded as Giants starter Madison Bumgarner struck out the side. In the Giants first, Paul Maholm walked leadoff batter Gregor Blanco, who scored one of two runs that inning.
It wasn’t a good start, and it ended badly, as Bumgarner struck out a season-high 11 batters over eight-plus innings to lead the Giants to a 4-3 win over the Cubs.
“The key to the game was the first inning,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “We get a guy in scoring position and strike out three times. We couldn’t put the ball in play to take the lead and then we come out and walk Blanco, a leadoff walk, and they end up scoring two. That was the whole key to the game, and the momentum got lost.”
The Cubs were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position until the ninth. Bumgarner, who has never thrown a complete game, entered the inning working on a shutout, but Starlin Castro and Joe Mather both singled to open the frame and chase the lefty. Alfonso Soriano then launched his eighth homer off Santiago Casilla to make it 4-3.
After Reed Johnson grounded out, pinch-hitter Bryan LaHair doubled to left and was replaced by pinch-runner Ian Stewart, who stayed put on Darwin Barney’s infield single, chasing Casilla for left-hander Javier Lopez.
Lopez ended the drama by getting Steve Clevenger to ground out to first and pinch-hitter David DeJesus to fly out to center, giving the Cubs their first loss in four games.
Three wins in a row may not seem like a lot, but they followed a 12-game losing streak. Last season, the Cubs didn’t win three straight until July 22-24, Game Nos. 100-102.
“We scored three runs in the ninth, but we came up short,” Soriano said. “We’ll come back tomorrow more hungry to win.”
Maholm (4-4) took the loss, giving up four runs on eight hits and two walks over 5 1/3 innings. The lefty has not won in his past four starts.
After Blanco’s leadoff walk in the first, Ryan Theriot hit an RBI double, one of three hits by the ex-Cubs infielder. One batter later, Buster Posey made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly. Theriot singled to lead off the third, and he scored on Melky Cabrera’s triple. Posey followed with an RBI single to make it 4-0.
“I thought [Theriot] yanked it foul, and it stayed fair,” Maholm said. “Melky hit the changeup through the hole. The biggest thing was I walked the leadoff batter, which you don’t want to do. We talked about it in our pitchers meeting and I walk the first hitter in the game.
“It was a battle,” Maholm said. “I didn’t bury some pitches, and they did a good job going the other way with two strikes and making me go up with the ball a little bit.”
There were some head-scratching incidents. Both second baseman Barney and first baseman Jeff Baker ran after Joaquin Arias’ popup in foul territory in the second, but the ball dropped between them.
“Barney said—I don’t remember his exact words—but he was saying, ‘You, you, you,’ and he shouldn’t say anything and Baker thought he heard something, so he pulled away,” Sveum said. “That didn’t hurt that much.”
Arias eventually struck out. In the Cubs third, Castro singled with one out, and broke to steal second but stopped running as he approached the bag and didn’t slide. He was easily thrown out.
“When I ran, I heard something, and I thought it was a foul ball,” Castro said. “It’s not a good time to run there. It was 2-0. I’ve got the green light, but it was not a good decision.”
This season has been a test of Sveum’s patience, but he’s not rattled.
“Guys are playing hard and preparing hard, and you go out every night and it’s a different night to win a baseball game,” Sveum said. “My patience hasn’t thinned because we’re losing. Guys are doing what they can and playing as hard as they can.”
The loss puts the Cubs a half game above the worst record in baseball or 3 1/2 games out of fifth place in their division, whichever you prefer. There’s really nothing more to say.
On the Southside, the Sox faced off against the scruffy Seattle crew to try and get to .500 at home. Scott Merkin put down his sushi long enough to watch the game and seems to be pleased with what he saw.
During the current nine-game White Sox winning streak, extended via Friday night’s 7-4 victory over the Mariners, they have won with great pitching, offensive outbursts and airtight fundamental play.
But in this series opener at U.S. Cellular Field, Michael Saunders’ face actually factored into the winning equation.
The Mariners (23-31) had rallied from a four-run deficit to forge a tie via two runs in the seventh and two in the eighth, placing the challenge upon the White Sox (30-22) to keep things rolling. Paul Konerko opened the bottom of the eighth with a long fly ball to center on a 3-1 pitch from reliever Shawn Kelley (0-2) and Saunders glided over for what appeared to be an easy chance.
Saunders didn’t take his eye off the routine drive, yet somehow it caught part of his glove and then struck him on the right side of the face. That two-base error started a three-run, game-winning rally, with Alexei Ramirez’s two-out, infield single and Alejandro De Aza’s two-run single doing the damage.
When things are going well for a team, and they are darn near perfect for the White Sox with a 13-1 record over their last 14 games, breaks like this one with Saunders just seem to happen.
“I’ve been on the receiving end of a ball moving on me and catching it and just being, ‘oof,’ but this is the first time I’ve ever been hit in the face,” Saunders said. “As an outfielder, you almost have to go out of your way to get hit in the face by a lazy fly ball like that.
“I feel horrible. I’m taking blame for this loss tonight. Kelley pitched his [butt] off and should have been out of there. We should have rolled in with more momentum than we did in the top of the ninth. We’d battled our [butts] off to come back from an early deficit.”
That early deficit was built against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, who tweaked his back when slipping off the mound in the second inning. Hernandez lasted five innings, but was on the mound long enough to give up Gordon Beckham’s first multi-home run game and Adam Dunn’s mammoth blast in the fifth.
Dunn’s 17th homer gave him 382 for his career and moved the left-handed slugger into a tie with Frank Howard and Jim Rice for 60th place on the all-time list. Beckham extended his hitting streak to eight games, with his mother and father looking on from the stands.
“Those got us going a little bit, but the guys in the eighth inning did all the work,” said Beckham, who raised his long-ball total to seven. “That was pretty awesome to come back and win like that after they tied it up.”
“We are just playing good,” Dunn said. “You know, the games where we aren’t scoring very many runs, our pitchers are holding them to less than what we are scoring. For the most part, we are swinging the bats pretty well, especially against a guy like Felix tonight.”
This particular contest shaped up like a battle of two potential All-Stars, with Jake Peavy on the mound for the White Sox against Hernandez. Peavy held the Mariners hitless until the fifth, when Justin Smoak’s high popup just in front of home plate fell to the left of catcher A.J. Pierzynski and was grabbed by third baseman Orlando Hudson before it rolled foul. It was ruled a very short single.
Smoak’s infield hit became a moot point when Dustin Ackley doubled and Kyle Seager homered in the seventh, with Peavy exiting two batters later after a walk to Smoak. Peavy allowed two runs on three hits over 6 1/3 innings, striking out four and walking three in a no-decision.
“Tonight, he fell behind more than he usually does, but he’s a battler,” said White Sox manager Robin Ventura of Peavy. “He’s able to kind of fight through that and get through six, which is, for a high pitch count and the way he was going about it, just shows how tough he is.”
“To keep them at bay for the most part was a tough task especially when you’re not as sharp as you’d like to be,” said Peavy, who threw 103 pitches over 6 1/3 innings. “Once again the boys found a way.”
Peavy pointed out that the Mariners’ offense was no slouch, having scored 31 runs combined over two straight victories against the Rangers, including a 21-8 victory on Wednesday. But the right-handed starter, Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain (1-0) and Addison Reed (seventh save) were able to keep the visitors under control for the team’s 20th victory in 23 games against the Mariners since the start of the 2010 season.
Cleveland’s victory over the Twins left the White Sox with a 1 1/2-game lead over the Indians in the American League Central and a solid six-game margin over the slumping Tigers. This nine-game winning streak includes a six-game run at home, where the White Sox have outscored the opposition, 59-28.
Friday’s victory gives the White Sox their longest streak since July 4-15, 2010, although it wasn’t a thing of beauty. Just ask Saunders, who had a noticeable bruise under his right eye after the game-changing mishap.
“You see him under it and it kind of bounces away,” Ventura said. “I didn’t even know what happened. Baseball’s weird that way.”
“We’re doing the right thing. We’re coming to work every day and hoping that it’s enough,” Beckham said. “The last week and a half, it’s been enough. But we can’t get complacent because this game will humble you real quickly.”
Beckham Dunn, Konerko, De Aza, Pierzynski , Hudson, Morel & Jake Peavy have all said “this game will humble you” in interviews this week. It was Robin Ventura’s phrase throughout spring training. Shades of SOX-1138? Or the Stepford Sox?
Whatever it is, it seems to be working.
I’ll let ESPN sum things up.
- AL BA leaders: Paul Konerko #1
- AL HR leaders: Adam Dunn #2
- AL RBI Leaders: Adam Dunn #3
- AL ERA leaders: Chris sale #1
- AL Wins Leaders: Jake Peavy (tied for #5)
Yeah, that does sum things up nicely.
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