Game Recap Jays 3, Cubs 2, a fun night regardless
I probably should have taken a pad and paper with me to make notes, but it would have been drenched once we left the ballpark anyway, as rain started coming down in a torrent probably around the fifth or sixth inning. Luckily, the Jays play in the domed Rogers Centre, and as Jon Miller predicted today during our second radioed discussion of the week, it rained hard. Point of fact, there's a tornado warning here in Toronto - something C.'s teacher friends think won't happen because the city stays too warm even in rain. I guess they don't know about Atlanta.
Anyway, it was perhaps the least depressing of all Cub losses I've personally experienced - partly because the Cubs are so effing good, partly because I was convinced until the last out that they were going to come back and win it, and partly because it's pretty hard to get bummed out when your seats are good. Here's a shot we took of me from our seats (apologies as many of the pictures turned out blurry - I did the best I could, but the game was indoors and there just wasn't enough light for our decent-but-amateur camera to work with):
Fun stories from the game - Kosuke Fukudome warms up with his translator. C. asked me, "why does he play catch with the translator and not the other players?" Before I could give her an answer, she mused, "it must be because he doesn't know how to play catch in English."
Later, I pointed out to her that Fukudome uses a bat made of a different color from the other players. She said "Oh! I bet it's a bamboo bat, because they would never break." I tried to gently assure her that it wasn't bamboo, but she insisted that if he did in fact use a bamboo bat, then he'd become her second favorite player behind Derrek Lee, so I gave in. In a later at bat, she said, "There he is again with his bat made of bamboo ... which has sushi inside of it. It's very smelly." The woman I love, folks.
Here's Michael Hoffpauir "warming up" with the team trainer. They were later seen at a leather bar.
I'm not saying ... I'm just saying.
Anyway, the Cubs failed to take advantage of numerous opportunities tonight, particularly their first inning romp of A.J. Burnett, who couldn't have located the strike zone with a compass and a telescope. Amusingly, a work colleague and super fan mused earlier today that Burnett's had trouble in the first three innings, and if the Cubs were able to get to him, then they'd have a good chance of winning. He was dead on. It didn't even help that the Jays were wearing their ridiculous powder-blue jerseys.
The Cubs rang Burnett up for something like 35 pitches in the first inning alone. They juiced the bases, they drew walks, and then Geo Soto hit a Towering Fly to Nowhere, resulting in bupkis. But I wasn't worried.
Gallagher, meanwhile, did not look at all dominating, but he didn't pitch too badly - except for the 3rd, where he came unglued. After allowing a leadoff double, he served up a pitch to a man who is not only a) nearly twice his age, but b) physically resembles a hard laborer who lives in a two-bedroom apartment with his child bride and three children, but manges to scratch by because he works as a garbage man during the day and a factory janitor at night. Yep, I'm talking about Matt Stairs, folks:
Maybe it's no big surprise, considering that he was facing this kid:
I think Gallagher needs to take a lesson from Burnett, whose team photo looks badass. Even Neifi looked more menacing than Golly Gee Gallagher, who is a photoshopped lollipop away from looking like a total jackass.
After Matt Stairs defied age and conventional wisdom with a deep homerun to right field, the detested Scott Rolen (a "Recardinal" according to C.), followed up with the lamest homerun I've seen in a long while. It managed to pass over the outfield wall, barely, but the point was that the Jays had just hit back-to-back homeruns and Gallagher was looking even worse than his team picture - there wasn't even an out yet in the inning.
After a chat with Larry, our Irish rookie manned up and got out of the inning, and the Cubs would score a run-in-response in the bottom of the 3rd after Jim Edmonds barely missed a two-run homer to deep right field. Being a loyal reader of the Desipio brand, I cheered Edmonds on by calling him "Lassie," which resulted in people turning their heads to me and shooting me dirty looks. I'm sure they didn't get the reference, but they didn't appreciate it regardless. Perhaps I should feel happy that nobody appeared to hear me when I cheered on "Fukakke."
Here's Gallagher trying to pick-off a Jay, resulting in asmattering of boos from the home crowd. No offense to Jays fans, but they suck. They were showing highlights of Jays World Champions on the JumboTron, and that barely evoked a response. Also, if you look closely, you can clearly make out the blurred outline of a UFO. Sorry about the picture quality, folks.
The Cubs next ideal opportunity to score droves of runs occurred in the 6th, when Fukudome led off with a single, Soto drew a walk that chased Burnett, and Edmonds loaded the bases with a single that should have scored Fooky. In fact, this was the Major Point of Confusion at the game. One second, Edmonds had driven in our hero from Japan. The next thing we know, Lou Piniella is out of the dugout, Fukudome looks confused back on third, and I'm scrambling for the cell phone to call Jason, who I assume is watching the game from home in Chicago.
Leah answers Jason's cell phone and we proceed to have a confused shouting match which consisted of Leah not understanding me (as the Rogers Centre sound system is loud and annoying), telling me that I must have the wrong number, and eventually barely comprehending that I have the right number and am asking for Jason - altho' she still couldn't identify that it was me. She then handed me off to Jason, where we continued the shouting match of confusion - it took me about 45 seconds to get Jason to understand my name when I spoke it. At that stage, after the Toronto loudspeakers have ceased with their infernal racket, I ask Jason, "what the hell happened with Fukudome?" He responded by saying "...I don't know! We were watching the game, but we weren't following that closely. We thought he scored but he didn't!" I thanked him and closed my $50 cell phone, which clearly delivers all the sound quality and clarity that $50 can buy - dog piss, really.
Anyway, by that point Eric Patterson had briefly shed himself of his shell of sucktitude (say that five times fast) and driven in Kosuke, but The Riot had followed with an inning-ending and rally-killing double play. Had Fukudome's run counted, then Patterson may have driven in Soto, and the Cubs may have been tied. But I still wasn't worried, and I wouldn't learn until much later that there had been a case of umpire's interference where the ball had been deflected by the second base ump. I speculated at the time that it may have been player interference of some kind which sent Fukudome back to third, but that would have normally resulted in an out somewhere, while there'd been none. Regardless, the Cubs only scored one run in the inning rather than two or more.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, Gallagher only lasted five before getting chased by a leadoff single by Rod Barajas in the 6th. (C. and I spent ten minutes debating Rod's full first name ... was it Roderick? Rodney? Rodrigo? "Yeah, he's an Irish Latino guy named Roderick Barajas," said C., who cut me deep with the putdown of my favorite suggestion.) Lou - who apparently loves his beer, according to the Jays fan sitting next to us - turned to Neal Cotts for one batter before calling on Michael Wuertz. When I told C. that Cotts makes 10 times her salary to get one out a night, she about crapped her pants. I think she wants to quit the teaching profession in order to become a Major League pitcher. Wuertz almost started a fire after David Eckstein* singled to left, but the Hoff gunned down Barajas. It's not that Hoffpauir has a tremendous arm; far from it, Barajas, a catcher, just happens to be slow as an iceberg on the basepaths.
(*They're making a movie about him. It'll be called The Tiny Jew with the Big Heart and Hugh Grant has been tapped for the leading role. I understand they will shoot him in skewed perspective to make him appear short enough for the part.)
From the 7th on, the bullpens battled each other to a draw - which was bad news for the Cubs, who were still trailing because of the 3rd inning ineffectiveness of Gallagher. Wolf, Camp, Carlson, Downs, and closer BJ Ryan pretty well clamped things down and the Cubs ended the game as sad participants.
I truly didn't feel too bummed out about it. It was a good game, there were some very exciting moments, and while the Cubs lost I couldn't help but notice how the Phillies demolished the Cardinals 20-2 tonight. It kind of softened the blow.
Final conclusions: If you're with me still, then I thank you. If you quit reading during my third C. story, then you won't catch me calling you a douchebag. That said, I wasn't overly fond of tonight's lineup - Hoffpauir batting 3rd? Patterson batting anywhere? - nor did I love some of Lou's in-game decisions. I realize that it's a symptom of having too many pitchers, but when he yanked Soto and replaced him on the basepaths with Jason Marquis while Henry Blanco pinch-hit for Jim Edmonds, I was kind befuddled. I get that he was favoring the righty-lefty matchup as Scott Downs was pitching for Toronto, but was there really a good reason to yank Soto on the basepaths for Marquis? Has de Suck won some sprints that I haven't heard of? Additionally, Reed Johnson should have been starting from the get-go, and Patterson should have been on the bench. That would have enabled Lou to pinch run with E.Pat*, which would have taken the greatest advantage of his ... erm, of his "talents." But I'm just being a Monday morning quarterback, and I'll leave it at this: I've seen the Cubs lose plenty of times, and I have never felt less frustrated with the team. It's hard to be angry when they are doing so well overall. Tomorrow won't be any easier as Marquis will be facing Halladay, but at least Toronto's pen will be spent a little. Hey, you never know, maybe the Cubs will chase Halladay from the game early.
Oh, one last point I almost forgot to make - for covering the Cubs on a blog, I sure as hell miss some details. I don't think I'd noticed before tonight that Ramirez is playing with his left hand bandaged:
And did anybody notice the PETA people protesting our favorite cock fighter? No? I'm shocked to hear that. Truly.
(*C. said, "E-Pat. E-Pat run. E-Pat strike out swinging again and again. E-Pat suck. Hint - See Pat? E-Pat? get it?)