The Three Horsemen of the Apologist
To briefly touch last night's game, well, it was over in the 1st Inning. Abreu's grand slam with 0 outs put the Phillies ahead, and despite 2 Cubs rallies (1, bringing the Cubs to 4-2 in the 4th, 2, bringing the Cubs to 5-4 in the 5th), they could not get back all the way. Todd Pratt and Utley hit solo HRs for the Phillies, Neifi went 3-4 with an RBI, and E-Ram bagged another two RBIs in the loss. Prior took the loss -- 4 1/3 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 7 K -- and the bullpen pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings.
So, moving on, we find ourselves in Queens and Shea Stadium for a weekend series with the Mets. This, in normal circumstances, might just be another banal set of matches lost amidst the hubbub of close division races. However, it's important for one reason (well, make it three): the triumphant return of three DL'ed Cubbies to the active roster.
are these the missing links between the Cubs and a sustained record above .500?
I, for one, am excited. I can't wait to see our starting lineup in the New York sunshine. Nomar's return not only brings another bat to the lineup, but adds another dimension of leadership to a team that desperately needs its icons. Neifi was Nomar's equal defensively, and it's good to know there will be no dropoff in that department.
Kerry has a lot to prove. He's struggled, an enigma on a roster of reliables, a mystery in a rotation of bedrock.
Williamson was always steady -- the former Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox pitcher has enjoyed a solid career, and one that resumes on Friday night in Queens.
269 G, 10 GS
371 1/3 IP
25-24, 55 SV, 2.98 ERA
208 BB, 429 K
Picked up on the cheap from Boston given his arm injury, Williamson will provide stablity to a bullpen that has slowly turned itself around over the last week. It is a small augmentation on paper, but having a set-up man for Dempster (or for Wood, as initial reports suggest he could close) is vital. You can never have too many late-inning options. It's worked so far for the White Sox (Marte, Hermanson, Vizcaino, Cotts), the Nationals (Cordero, Majewski, Ayala) and the Athletics (Duchscherer, Street, Calero) and it can work for us too.
However, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Jerry Hairston Jr. left the game on Wednesday while making a diving catch, and MRIs have revealed a torn ulnar ligament in his elbow. He should miss 10 days to 2 weeks, and will most likely visit the DL in the meantime. Gah, we can't catch a break!
However, let's see how it goes. I'm busy with work today so further analysis will have to wait, but I'll be watching tonight as the Cubs face off against the New York Mets. There is still some fun to be had today, as the Great Who Will Be Replaced On The 25-Man Roster While All 3 Stars Get Activated Sweepstakes. Place yr bets: who will take the chop as the Horsemen return?
CHC: LHP Rich Hill • 0-0, 3.78 ERA in 2005 • Has not faced NYM in 2005
NYM: LHP Tom Glavine • 7-9, 4.50 ERA in 2005 • Has not faced CHC in 2005