Hawkins - living the nightmare
LaTroy, LaTroy, LaTroy... what happened to you?
This was yet another dour game to witness, watching the Cubs do little with the bat against Corey Lidle for 7 innings, then the team waited for Derrek Lee to be the clubhouse saviour again, slamming a pitch from Wagner over the wall for the go-ahead, 2-run Home Run. Not bad considering Wagner had not allowed a run in his previous 11 innings of work so far this season.
From there, it seemed rather apparent. Hawkins, would come in to finish the job in the 9th. This, however, was not to be, and Hawkins' already bad week would continue yesterday afternoon.
The inning began as I expected it would. Burrell got a single after being behind in the count. He was pulled for a pinch-runner, as the Phillies clearly respected Hawkins (for some reason) and figured they'd need to be bunting and stealing in true small-ball style in order to tie the game. However, they were wrong. Hawkins did the work for them, failing to field a ground ball in his domain, and all runners are safe. LT did strike out the rookie Howard, as I would have expected, leaving runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out. Still a good situation for the Cubs: an infield ground-ball, and you have a double play. However, Hawkins had a different strategy - get ahead of PH Jose Offerman (.143, o RBI this season) 0-2 in the count, and then throw 4 straight balls to load the bases.
Placido Polanco pinch hits, and he is a dangerous batter to face regardless of the inning or the situation. LT takes the count to 1-2, before Polanco hits a line-drive right into Hawkins' glove. An amazing play, showing great reflexes. All the runners are holding, except Old Shoes Offerman, who has creeped a couple of feet further from 1st than anyone else from any other base. Hawkins, demonstrating the point where reflexes and instincts are replaced with conscious thought and subsequent stupidity, tries to be a hero and throws to first. The throw is wide, the throw makes it into the stands off Offerman's helmet (an unlikely hero, to say the least, a helmet), and two runs amble home. 3-2 Phillies. The inning then ends rather quickly, with the pitcher Billy Wagner striking out.
What had Hawkins failed to think about? If you hold that line drive, leaving 2 outs and bases loaded, the pitcher was up to the plate next. Holding the ball would have possibly forced the Phillies to pinch-hit for their almost indestructible closer, meaning the Cubs could face a much weaker reliever in the bottom of the 9th (Worrell, a good option, just packed off to the DL for "psychological reasons") instead of Bullet-Proof Billy. If they leave Wagner in, a career .105 hitter (2-19 lifetime, with 11 Ks), Hawkins has a much easier job at hand. Strike him out, and go to the 9th with a chance to rally or at least force extra-innings. Instead, he tosses the ball at Offerman's head, leaving Derrek "Jesus" Lee no chance of making the play, and the Cubs lose again, going winless in 8 days.
I will say no more. Rusch vs. Lieber this afternoon.