Brewers Brat-ed by the 7th Inning Blues
The Cubs offense had a curious sense of timing last night, going hitless for 5 innings before erupting with a 4-run 7th Inning, a scoring burst that proved enough for a 4-2 win and fresh call-up Jerome "The Big Grill" Williams' (1-2) first win in a Cubs uniform.
After a Hollandsworth single with 1 out in the 1st inning, they looked subdued from then on, puttering through uneventful at-bats at the hands of Victor Santos' (2-7). Perhaps unlucky this season, the economical Santos induced groundout after groundout, looking in control, and then the errors began.
Operating in a rather symmetrical fashion, the lead-off man, Todd Hollandsworth, reached third base on an error by Geoff Jenkins in right field. Derrek Lee then slapped the first pitch over the left field wall to tie the score at 2. Almost immediately, the scenario repeated itself. Burnitz made it to base safely after a fielding gaffe at second base by Junior Spivey's ouster, Rickie Weeks. Again, with Ramirez at the plate, he crushed the first pitch faced into deep left center, falling only a few feet short of slamming the great Bratwurst water slide normally reserved for the home-team heroics.
The outburst negated an otherwise slow-but-steady performance by Santos and the Brewers, also cancelling out Bill Hall's two solo home runs in the game, his 9th and 10th of the season.
In response, Jerome Williams was in rare form, displaying the kind of command the Cubs envisioned when stealing him from the Giants in the Hawkins-for-Williams-and-Aardsma deal. With a firm grip on his sinker and changeup, Williams pitched seven strong innings, giving up 3 hits and walking four while striking out 6. Wellemeyer and Dempster pitched reasonably in relief, not allowing a hit in their 2 innings of work but walking 3 between them, and the game came to its unexpected end.
"It was an excellent debut for Jerome," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "Had it not been for Billy Hall, they wouldn't have gotten any runs. Billy had a great day over there, but Jerome made the pitches when he had to and he did an outstanding job. He kept the ball down and worked pretty quickly."
Williams was not the only run-saver on the team. Hairston Jr, filling in for the "resting" Patterson in center field, made a superb catch against the wall to rob Carlos Lee of extra bases.
There was a modicum of drama in the 6th when Williams' puka shell necklace, one given to him by his mother before she died, broke on the mound, but I guarantee it's already glued together and back around his neck where it belongs.
With 6 runs off 7 hits and 2 errors, there was little else to report.
The Cubs need to make a habit of this - stealing games when they appear beaten. In the space of 5 seemingly innocuous pitches the game had come full circle; the team once in control were now finished, the team once subdued were now alive.
Chances and reversing fortunes like this would have been very helpful at Yankee Stadium over the weekend.
CHC: RHP Carlos Zambrano • 4-3, 3.56 ERA in 2005 • 1-1, 1.88 ERA vs. MIL in 2005
MIL: LHP Doug Davis • 8-6, 4.47 ERA in 2005 • 1-1, 1.77 ERA vs. CHC in 2004
TRADE RUMOR UPDATES
According to SportingNews.com reporter Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs are more than in the hunt for Oakland CF Mark Kotsay. Along with the Yankees and the Red Sox, the Cubs are looking for his superb defense and reasonable offense. It provides a small dilemma given Patterson's play at the position, although if the trade was made, the Cubs might well move Patterson to right and Burnitz to LF, a position he has played before. Kotsay can also play in right field, but regardless of how the 3 line up, it would definitely strengthen the starting lineup and the bench.
Kotsay is batting .276 on the season with 5 HRs, 37 RBIs and 36 runs. His OBP is around .336 this year, although it hovers around .345 for his 9-year Major League career. He's a lifetime .286 hitter, and as I've already mentioned, he is a superb defensive center fielder.
Rosenthal also mentions the wonder that is the Cubs' perfectly formed farm system. Our mix of prospects and rookies is considered one of the best in the game, deep in good pitching and promising hitters (Ronny Cedeno: batting .351 at AAA-Iowa this season), and compared to the Yankees, we have more than enough minor-league weapons to outdo them in trade competitiveness. It also helps that the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs are on the list of teams Kotsay could be contractually traded to without his permission.
So what do we think? Kotsay for 2 prospects? Good trade?