Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL
Game 1 of 3
GARZAMAN STRIKES AGAIN!!
The overall tone and tenacity of the Cubs/Reds contests this season has changed considerably compared to last season. As most Cubs fans know, the Dusty Baker Tendency Chart has always revealed what we already know: his window for baseball success only comes once every few years or so, once it’s closed, it’s closed for quite some time. I know it’s hard to explain this to your favorite Reds fan, but all you have to do is draw a chart of Dusty’s postseason success on a napkin for each year and this will tell the story just fine. Where it seems the Reds’ roster has indeed improved a bit, leave it to the toothpick guy to make decisions at critical points that don’t add up on a regular basis…they only add up once in a while.
But, I must digress. Let’s get to the game. Hell, yes, Matt Garza. This guy on a Cubs team with more precision and fundamental offense would have been stellar by the general population’s statistical basis (can you imagine him as a member of the Cubs’ 2008 rotation? MY GOODNESS!) but he’s on this team, this year, and for every outing where his performance is de-ballooned by the offense (and even defense), he seems to pull a magical outing once in a while. Today’s game was one of those once-in-a-whiles. 7.2 IP, 6H, 3R (only one earned, the other two due to errors by Reed Johnson and Starlin Castro), 8 flaming strikeouts, 3 walks.
It was the Cubs’ 5th inning that made the difference in offensive support of Garza; with 2 outs Castro and Johnson reach safely and are driven in by a shocking opposite field Aramis Ramirez single . Jeff Baker (HEY!) responds with a double, Ramirez scores on a wild pitch. The Cubs have the lead for the rest of the game, despite the error-capitalization by the Reds in the 7th and 8th innings.
The truly unfortunate side of this story is Dontrelle Willis’ great outings for the Reds with no W recorded in a decision to date. Unlike some other players, Willis is the guy everybody loves, no matter who he’s pitching for, myself included. He was fantastic in the minors this year, but he has been unable to bring this fantastic to the Reds, and baseball fans around the world are profoundly confused by this. He began the game with a remarkable set of 1st through 3rd inning, 29 pitches worth of “3 up, 3 down” outs. When he started issuing passes in the 4th, yes, even I held my head in my hands and murmured the same thing everybody else was…”This guy just can’t get a break at the Major League level.”
But, hey…not so sad because it’s the Reds!
This was Devin Mesoraco’s first MLB start, in the 7th he gets his first MLB RBI on a groundout to short, scoring AAA teammate Yonder Alonso…whose Wrigley woes in 2011 continued as he lost a Reed Johnson ball in the ivy for a Ground Rule Double.
Joey Votto Flies into a Double Play, the second time in a week I’ve seen this happen (see this game for the other one. Earlier this season, I saw not one, but two PIDP (popped into double play) for the first time ever. This season has been a boon for oddball firsts (and in waves) for my scorebook.