The Sergio is Mitre-ier!
I smell the blood of a three-game winning streak
Sergio Mitre, aka "The Minor League Engine that Could", stole the limelight from an impressive and surely depressed Roger Clemens last night, propelling the Cubs to an 8th Inning 4-run rally built on goatee power.
It was a pleasure to listen to, hearing Santo make a noise other than a pissed-off groan or "Oh God no, not again, Goddammnit". The Cubs, trailing thanks to two back-to-back fielder's choice RBIs in the 4th inning, took advantage of their luck and rode timely hitting to a late rally.
A rare pinch-hit RBI from Todd "Bacon" Hollandsworth scored Dubois from 2nd, and from there the Cubs attacked Astros closer Brad Lidge. With 2 outs and the bases loaded, Burnitz slapped a pitch to right, scoring Hairy and Nairy, and Ramirez worked his at-bat until Lidge slung a wild pitch, scoring Derrek Lee for a 4-2 margin.
Dempster tossed a perfect 1-2-3 9th for his 4th save and *gasp* second in 2 days, adding a strikeout for good measure.
Moving on, we have another game against the floundering Astros - show no mercy tonight and sweep the series. Milwaukee is still winning, as is St. Louis, so we need to keep this form going. A 4-game weekend series against the beatable Rockies, although they might make us score 9 runs a game to beat them.
In honour of Jeff Gordon's tremendous performance with the microphone, I present to you today's heroes and villains.
Winners and Losers - NASCAR edition
RUNNING ON RAILS
1. Sergio Mitre, SP
Pitching like Dennis Quaid on steroids, Mitre pulled the Cubs through 7 innings, keeping them in the hunt and giving them a chance for their 8th inning alchemy. Mitre walked 1 and struck out 5 in 108 pitches of work (Dusty is clockwork with his magic number), allowing 2 ER on 5 hits in the process. It was more than anyone could have expected from him, and for that, he did us proud.
2. Jeromy Burnitz, RF
Burny, slapping balls like there's no tomorrow, guffed that 2-out single through the infield that scored the tying and game-winning runs in the 8th Inning. It was his only hit of the day, and if his single hit-per-game is one as heroic as that, I don't care if he goes 1-5 every night.
1. Brad Lidge, RP
Brad "2-Inning" Lidge, the Astros' hero time and again during the 2004 postseason with his 8th and 9th labors, buggered up the game today, gifting two wild pitches and 2 walks in his 2/3 inning of work, setting the stage for Burny's bonanza.
2/3 IP, H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 26 pitches (14 strikes)
Sorry Brad, tomorrow is another day.
2. Roger Clemens, SP
I'm also sorry to nominate the legendary Rocket, but his bad luck is unending. I worry that if the Astros don't give him more offense, he will slink back to the Bronx, so for everyone's sake score some goddamn runs. (Rant over)
But seriously, luck was not on his side, leaving the game with back problems after having roundly dominated the Cubs order through 5 innings. Striking out 6 and allowing only 2 hits through his economical 68 pitches of work (47 strikes!), his injury prevented him from surely clinching his 4th win of the season, and I genuinely feel bad. Get well soon, today you're in the pits.
So, to today. Another game against the Astros under the Wrigley Stadium floodlights, and the Cubs' old hand Maddux gets a crack and keeping the good vibes alive. This game might hinge on the likes of Corey Patterson, whose sore wrist kept him out of the lineup (and gave Enrique Wilson a start at 2B: 0-2, BB, 2 LOB) but whose recent fortunes have been music for the eyes - 7-for-15 in his last four games, and against the Astros' starter Brandon Backe, he is 4-9 lifetime. Delicious.
Other gents to watch (stats are lifetime vs. opponent's starter):
CUBS (OK, so these don't really mean anything)
C Michael Barrett -- 4-8
RF Burnitz -- 3-5
ASTROS (These are a little more meaningful)
C Brad Ausmus -- 13-35
2B Craig Biggio -- 32-109
LF Lance Berkman -- 6-15
HOU: RHP Brandon Backe • 3-3, 5.15 ERA in 2005 • 1-0, 5.14 ERA in 2005 vs. CHC
CHC: RHP Greg Maddux • 2-2, 4.12 ERA in 2005 • 1-0, 3.00 ERA in 2005 vs. HOU