Saturday, May 14

Burnitz the thief

Cubs 6, Nationals 3

3 in a row!

The Cubs are evidently gaining some confidence (well, not everyone on the staff), because when the game was on the line, it was the Nationals who blinked first.

With the score knotted at 2-2 in the 8th Inning, and the impressive Loaiza out of the game (7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER), Aramis drove a 2-2 pitch into deep center field for a solo HR. Burnitz followed with a 2-0 double to deep left center, and Barrett sacrificed to move him across to third. Jason Dubois fouled off 2 pitches with a full count before being hit by a pitch, leaving runners on the corners, 1 out. Chad Cordero came into the game in relief, a guy who has not exactly been easy to hit this season - 4 ER in 16 IP, striking out 17 while walking 6.

Jerry Hairston Jr, a man with 1 RBI this season, was instructed to lay down the suicide squeeze, but after missing the ball, Burnitz was caught in a run-down between third and home. Or was he? A crucial error by the catcher in handling the ball allowed Burnitz to score safely.

Jerry then walked, leaving runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out.

Hollandworth came in to pinch-hit, and in true Todd form, with the pressure on, he struck out swinging on 4 pitches. Excellent work, Holls, excellent work.

With 2 out, and Cordero appearing more comfortable, he worked Patterson to a 2-2 count. Corey connected weakly with the next pitch, the ball trickling down the 1st base line, and Cordero covered across to make the play. He scooped the ball cleanly but missed on the transfer, the ball flying over the 1B's hands into right field. Corey was safe, and both Dube and Hairy coming round to score. Perez grounded out, but the damage was done.

4 runs off 3 hits, with 3 runs coming off the 2 costly errors by C Gary Bennett and Cordero.

So the game was done.

Or so we would have liked. Remlinger, the man chosen to relieve Wuertz (threw a perfect 8th Inning, 2 fly-outs, strike-out), induced Nick Johnson to fly out to CF. Working a 1-2 count on Bennett, he served up a fat pitch that was dispatched to deep right for a double. Guzman popped out, leaving a runner on 2nd with 2 outs.

The pinch-hitted Blanco drilled a run-scoring double, and Remlinger walked Wilkerson on 6 pitches and Jamey Carroll after an 11-pitch at-bat. The next man up, Jose Guillen.

Remlinger left the game with the bases loaded, and Wellemeyer came into to finish things off. He sent Guillen to a full-count, before Jose connected, sending the 3-2 pitch deep down the right field line, where Burnitz made the catch in the corner, a few feet from the fence. 6 feet more, a split-second earlier on the hit, and he would have ended the game with a walk-off grand slam.

But it was not to be, and for once the Cubs came out on top of an eventful and nervy performance filled with 3 Washington errors and a 3-run win for Chicago.

Having been on the receiving end of bad luck like this, it is definitely satisfying to see us on the winning side of such events. A 3-game winning streak, and Zambrano vs. Hernandez this evening.


At 10:35 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

JT- I get the impression that you watched the game. I only had the privelage of reading the recap and the box score on the internet. Maybe you could clue me in on a few things.

Did Jerry Hairston fail to lay down the bunt or did he simply miss the sign? Another website said that he missed the sign and that he apologized for it after the game.

Could you explain Burnitz's catch a in more detail? Was it at the wall, over the wall, in the corner, etc.?

Finally, what are they thinking with Dempster as a closer? He's a starter, and we need our starters right now. Our last three wins have been on the backs of great starting performances, including a complete game. Cubs win when they have good starting pitching. I think they need to put Dempster back in the rotation. Also, I think it's time we gave the younger guys a chance to close. Lets see how they respond to higher pressure.

I remember Wellemeyer's first major league appearance . He came into the bottom of the 8th in Milwaukee with a one run lead. He responded well to the pressure. He struck out the side. Give him and Wuertz a chance. What we've been doing recently isn't working, so it's time to experiment, but experiment within the bull pen. There's no need to extend the problem to the starting rotation as well.

ps. Jim- I like your historical background too, so keep it up. We never did hear more about Hoyt's knucklers and the catcher's mitt.

At 10:37 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

Correction. Wellemeyer's appearance was in the bottom of the 18th. I believe it followed a solo home run by Corey Patterson in the top of the inning. Sorry.

At 11:35 PM, Blogger JT said...

Hairston missed the signal, and therefore was confused as to what he should have been doing. Burnitz read it and didn't disguise it whatsoever - he went full steam for it and was squarely stuck in the middle when the play broke down. Thankfully Bennett and Cordero couldn't force the out and he scampered home.

As far as Burnitz was concerned, he was about 6 feet from the HR wall, about 6 feet from the foul line, meaning he was squarely deep in that right field corner where the walls converge.

He made up some serious distance to make the play, which he made look extremely easy in retrospect - with it being 2 outs, all the runners were circling the bases, and if he hadn't made the grab, it would have likely been a bases-clearing double for Guillen, tying up the score at 6.

I would like to see Demps continue to start, and that Rusch should be back in that bullpen role. I think Wellemeyer did well considering the circumstances - as they say, it's not how you get them out but that you get the out - and I think that is Dusty's biggest flaw as a manager. He fails to yield to youth and raw talent, preferring to stick with his journeyman, everyday guys and use the younger players far too sparingly. I'm not sure if Wuertz is ready, but we'll never find out unless he's given a chance to stake a claim for the job. Dempster should be starting, as he can give us more than Rusch can - by that I mean 6 innings or more if needs be.

At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Lazlo said...

Personally, I was thinking of both Dempster and Rusch starting, until Kerry Wood gets back. Then I would like to see Rusch go back into the bullpen role. I don't understand the idea behind putting Leicester as a starter and Rusch as the closer.

At 9:14 AM, Blogger JT said...

Yeah, I heard something wacky that Wood had discussed moving to the bullpen to possibly close.

I think that's about the funniest news I've heard all year from Chi-town, except maybe the woman who accused Dusty of sexual impropriety. He's so cold, he'd need his 3B coach to give him signals.


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