What Maddux's celebrations may have looked like.
Maddux and Barrett -- Strikeout Buddies
So there it is. The bright spot of an extra-innings defeat is the historical achievement of Greg Maddux, joining that illustrious 300 W/3000 K club with a 2-2 changeup to Omar "I might make the HOF too" Vizquel. (It is also somewhat epic that Michael Barrett has homered in consecutive games on consecutive nights, but we're still checking his stats on that one).
But seriously, not to belittle the moment, Maddux earned another exclusive accolade on top of a superb career. Well done Greg. He was never considered a strikeout pitcher, but his location, pitches and command have brought him to roost with the likes of Seaver, Niekro and Ryan, aka where he belongs.
(Pause for a moment of silence in praise of Mr. Maddux)
And so we move on to the sticky task of evaluating a loss in 11 innings.
The game was scoreless until the 5th, when P Noah Lowry squeezed out a bunt to score Lance Niekro from 3rd. Is it just me, or have suicide squeezes become rather vogue all of a sudden? Is the suicide squeeze the new stolen base on fielder's indifference? David "Powerless Pixie" Eckstein laid one down in extras on Friday night, one tonight for the Giants and another for the Cardinals earlier in the evening.... It looks pretty and all but it's really annoying. Please stop this sacrificial nonsense and drive the runner home by using yr bat as a bat and not a stick you'd use as a kid to poke dead animals in the forest. The less-than-PC name is a little troubling: using suicide in sports is an acceptable thing? Maybe it should be called the "Sunshine Squeeze" or the "I can't hit so I bunted in an RBI".
An Edgardo Alfonzo throwing error on bag #3 allowed Murton to reach safely and Barrett to score in the 6th, only to watch the Giants take the lead in the top of the 7th on a JT "You thought I was dead or playing AA-baseball, but I'm not yet" Snow RBI single.
The second most satisfying moment in the game came in the 8th inning. Enter LaTroy Hawkins, the beleaguered reliever capable of brilliance but, more regularly, badness. Barrett was first up in the inning, and sent the FIRST PITCH OF THE INNING into left center field. Eat that Hawkins.
It would be the final scoring in the game until the 11th inning. Novoa pitched an uneventful 9th, relieving Maddux's best start of the season (he sure can turn it on when it counts, are you watching Kerry? 8 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 89 pitches), Rusch got through the 10th and then coughed up back-to-back one-out singles to Deivi Cruz and Matheny. Wuertz took over from there, and despite striking out Torrealba, Jason Ellison slapped a pitch into center field, where Jose "What the F*ck am I doing in CF?" Macias guffed the ball. He attempted to be smooth and glide in to field, but it trickled under his glove like his childhood hopes and dreams, allowing Cruz to swagger easily in to score.
Ty Walker came in to face the most threatening Cubs trio we could have sent to the plate: Ronny "I'm a Pinch Runner!" Cedeno, Jose "Goddamn" Macias, and Todd "Actually there's nothing wrong with him" Walker. A ground-out and a double-play later and the game was done.
That's all I'll say. Sure, I could be more caustic than I already have been, but let's not ruin Maddux's achievements. So I'll close with various Cubs quotes about Maddux's membership to the club, as well as the starting pitchers for this afternoon's rubber game (Zambrano looking to get his 4th straight win).
-- "It was about pitching to win tonight. If [the strikeout] happened, great. I would've much rather gotten no strikeouts and won, trust me. It's pretty cool to get there and I want to keep going."
-- It's pretty cool. Not that many guys have done it. I remember when [former pitching coach and current bench coach] Dick Pole told me one day, 'Why don't you stop trying to strike guys out and just try to get them out? You'll probably strike out just as many guys, if not more.' He was right. I've always tried with two strikes to just make a pitch and get the guy out. You get a lot of strikeouts by accident just by doing that."
-- "He was easily describable for me -- he had six or eight different pitches and mastered the location of every one of them. That's Greg Maddux......Honestly, I bet the number of different pitches that were strikeout pitches are spread across the whole spectrum of what he's got. He's mastered the craft, period."
-- "From my perspective, [his success] is based on longevity, consistency and positive results." The philosophic Todd Hollandsworth
-- "He's very humble externally and very confident internally, and very prepared. He knows himself. He knows the opposition. He knows the umpires -- everything that goes into the equation of getting people out. He studies -- this guy studies."
-- "Maddux has done nothing in his entire career except help the team win. It's never been about himself, it's been about the team. There's nothing more to it than that."
SF: RHP Brett Tomko • 7-10, 5.03 ERA in 2005 • 2-4, 5.29 ERA vs. CHC lifetime
CHC: RHP Carlos Zambrano • 7-4, 3.42 ERA in 2005 • 0-0, 3.86 ERA vs. SF in 2004