Saturday, August 13, 2011

8/13/11 Chicago Cubs 8, Atlanta Braves 4

Turner Field, Atlanta, GA
Game 2 of 3

Hi, my name is RANDY WELLS…did you miss me?Yes, we did, buddy. It’s much too late now for you to save the Cubs in 2011, but it’s nice to know that you are “back,” even if it’s for one game…especially at a time like this!

With Game 1 behind us, this is already a series that Cub fans want to forget. Yesterday, Carlos Zambrano absolutely freaked out, in front of a packed crowd of Braves fans gathered to see Bobby Cox have his number retired. Aside from the scurried responses of Mike Quade and the rest of the Cubs, Jim Hendry had to call Braves GM John Schuerholz personally to apologize for this most outrageous Z moment of the year (and so far, of his career). Not only that, but the Cubs lost and the Braves are doing wayyy better than the Cubs, well on their way to a postseason berth.

Enter Randy Wells, who was the Cubs’ knight in shining armour in 2010 but has been inexplicably confusing in performance this year, being both hindered by a lengthy spell on the DL and by a 6.63 ERA, 1-4 W-L record from his return on May 28 through July 28, allowing at least 3 ER in each start except for his electric performance against the Houston Astros on July 23, lasting 6 innings and only allowing 1 ER. His starts in August until today were just as baffling, with a good outing in Pittsburgh on August 2 (6 IP, 2ER, 7K, 1HR) and another poor outing against Cincinnati at Wrigley on August 7 (7 IP, 6ER, 1K, 3HR).

Tonight, the Cubs couldn’t have asked for a better situation given the circumstances of last night’s atrocity exhibition. Wells cruises through 5 innings of 8-hit, 2-ER baseball with 1 K and a HR. Trouble early in the 6th after hitting Dan Uggla to lead things off gets him out of the game early, but the Cubs provided much-needed run support in the 5th, so Wells leaves as the pitcher of record and Jeff “The Shark” Samardzija retires the side to preserve the lead.

Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney are a big part of the Cubs’ run support, each batting 4-for-5 in the game; Carlos Pena’s RBI double in the 5th and Geovany Soto’s RBI fielder’s choice in the 6th (scoring Tyler Colvin, who reached base on a wild triple that popped right out of Michael Bourn’s glove). 6 Cubs drive in runs tonight, a great show of support for Wells and the team as a whole.

Dan Uggla extends his hitting streak to 33 games, the media is really starting to pick up on this.

It’s good to see Jose Constanza in a Braves uniform and seeing some action in the big leagues. Constanza spent 6 years in the Indians’ farm system, never making it to the Majors that entire time. He was signed by the Braves as a free agent at the end of the 2010 season and was called up on July 29 of this year. Constanza is on record as a switch-hitter, but has only batted from the left side of the plate since a hand injury in 2005. His big urban legend is his propensity for licking his bat, an act we don’t get to see in tonight’s game but do get it on record in Game 3 of the series.

SCOREKEEPER’S NOTE: I’ve written many times about charging errors to players, and have shared examples of instances where I have disagreed with the Official Scorer and kept my own ruling intact, regardless of whatever else happens during or after the game. Another well-known factor in charging errors rests in the tendency for “homers” as Official Scorers to sway their decisions in favor of a particular player and/or situation. We also know that team officials can protest the Official Scorer’s rulings, and often do. When you’re scoring on your own (at home or at the ball park) you run into this from time to time.

Tonight, we are exposed to an example of a ruling on a play that was changed after the fact, and since we’re in Atlanta we have to consider the influence of one Chipper Jones…who is no doubt a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer and more prone than others to exercise his option of disputing a Scorer’s ruling…even at the detriment of one of his teammates’ own record. Even if that teammate is Mr. Derek Lowe!!

Here’s a screenshot of the final linescore, complete with a Castro/Barney hug that will melt the heart of any Cub fan:You will note 2 Errors for Atlanta; this is what my final scoresheet tally resulted in as well. Jones nearly bobbled a softly hit Geovany Soto grounder (the very same play that scored Tyler Colvin, mentioned earlier) but absolutely over-gunned the throw to first. Since Jones chose the play at 1B, Geo reaches on a fielder’s choice (yes, a “fielder’s choice, no PO play,” as detailed in this post). I will agree with this, and will not argue that Jones’ best option was to hold Colvin at 3B or better yet, throw him out at home plate…however, his throw to 1B was bush league at best; for a guy with his skill and experience, that is positively an error…on the flip side, why should Lowe earn this run? There is no reason, period.

Fast forward to the next morning on MLB Gameday, where the Jones error has vanished, Lowe has now earned all 5 runs he allowed, and just like that, Jones’ bonehead throw is off of the record books for all time. I can’t verify a protest was filed, but given the circumstances, yes, you can count on it.

Why, you ask?


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