4-22-05 -- Thoughts from JT - Cubs 0, Cardinals 4
This was, in the scheme of things, a difficult game to watch. The two teams dourly batted and pitched their way through 7 1/2 Innings of a 1-0 game until the Cubs' bullpen gave the Cardinals the cushion they needed to breathe easier.
There are more negatives than positives today.
++ ESPN showing the game
This is definitely one of those "clutching at straws" positives that I've struggled to find in summarizing this game. Steve Stone, along with the regular ESPN cast, made this game a lot more entertaining with a higher-than-average amount of insightful, "technical" commentary - stats about specific situations, batters' preferences and scouting reports - and it made the game a lot more tolerable. Sorry Ron Santo, today I bedded with a different mistress.
He started rather shakily, but ended up posting another commanding and promising performance for the starting rotation. 6 IP, 4 H, ER, 3 BB, 4 K - he managed to get himself out of any difficult situations his walks put him in, and when he left the game for a pinch-hitter in the 7th, he had done just enough to keep the Cubs in the game and with plenty of chances to win.
-- Dusty's Decisions
There were no real indications or reasons offered for that 8th Inning switch, pulling Michael Wuertz in favour of Mike Remlinger to face a slow and slumping Larry Walker. Wuertz, who needed only 19 pitches to get through 1 1/3 Innings of hitless ball, only to be pulled for the veteran. What Stone mentioned right before the switch made the pitching change seem all the more baffling - Walker, despite his poor season to date, was batting roughly .450 with a couple of HRs against Remlinger in his career. The substitution made, and sure enough, Walker belted the 4th pitch over the wall in deep right center field. 4 pitches, 0 outs, 1 ER for Remlinger.
In came Fox, who proceeded to sweat his way through the rest of the inning, allowing a Pujols double off the deep right field wall, and then a 3-2 pitch to Rolen that he dispatched with ease over the left field wall. Cardinals 4, Cubs 0.
I really have no idea why Wuertz was pulled. He looked comfortable, controlled, and more importantly, unthreatening to the scorer's box. If I can find anything in the papers this morning or online, I'll post it later. I'm sure Dusty has his reasons.
-- Blind Bats
Carpenter pitched well for the win, and yet the Cubs had several opportunities to take control. In the 6th Inning, after a Catcher's Interference call on young Yadier Molina, a Carpenter wild pitch in the dirt allowed Neifi Perez to advance to 3rd and Patterson to 2nd. 1 out, runners in scoring position. Aramis Ramirez struck out swinging, and Burnitz flied out to Edmonds in center field. This was really the breaking point - it couldn't have been set up any better.
In the 5th Inning, with Derrek Lee on 3rd and Hollandworth on 1st with 1 out, Blanco grounded out weakly, forcing out Lee at home. 2 outs, runners on 2nd and 3rd, and not surprisingly, Dempster couldn't force in a run.
In the 1st Inning, two singles put Perez at 2nd and Patterson at 1st with 1 out. Ramirez then grounded into the double play to end the inning.
Despite a solid pitching performance, there were 3 clear moments where the Cubs could have blown apart the box score, and for whatever reason, on this day they couldn't get it done.