Monday, April 30, 2012

4/28/12 Chicago Cubs 2, Philadelphia Phillies 5

Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA
Game 2 of 4

Cubs fans, it’s time for some counseling…Randy Wells just might not be “the guy.”
Many were shocked, but most were not surprised when Wells didn’t make the Opening Day roster and instead was shuttled to AAA. The adage goes “you can’t have too much pitching,” and the adage has inspired many to write volumes about it. The fact of the matter is, the Cubs had quite a few options and they exercised what could be considered one of many potential scenarios, more than a handful of which don’t include Randy Wells starting in Chicago this season. When Ryan Dempster went on the DL (hey, he’s getting old, this is going to happen) I was just as hopeful that Randy’s return to the Cubs would be an opportunity for Randy to prove that he’s still in the running to be “the guy” he was in 2009 and 2010, with a combined ERA of 3.70, 1.343 WHIP and 117 ERA+ with 2.28 SO/BB. Setting hope aside for the moment…he’s not “the guy.” I’m starting to believe, as much as I don’t want to, that he probably never will be.


Wells looks sharp for three innings, more or less the entire batting order. His trademark sinker and “surprise” slider elicits 2 line outs, 2 groundouts, 3 swinging strikeouts, 2 pop ups, one BB and one HB. In the 4th, Wells is in trouble with a lead-off double by Hunter Pence, walks Jim Thome, and at that point, ball after ball starts hitting the dirt and the Phillies have officially got his number. Wells faces 8 batters, allows 3 hits, walks three, and is lifted when 4 runners cross the plate and Welington Castillo is tired of looking at dusty baseballs.

3 cheers for the Cubs bullpen, who keep the rest of the game close and only allow a solo HR by the amazing Carlos Ruiz* but the damage is done and Wells’ 4th keeps the Phils ahead of the Cubs for the rest of the game.

(*) – Of course, Ruiz should be heralded more as an excellent Catcher, and I’m not saying he isn’t, but here’s my vote to elevate him to a higher status of regard…Ruiz takes a Bryan LaHair foul ball right in the spot on his knee where the ‘backstop armour’ doesn’t cover well and rolls on the ground in pain for what seems like several minutes. Just as Len and Bob are speculating on whether or not they’ll see Ruiz behind the dish for the rest of the game, he shows up for his lead-off AB in the bottom of the 6th and demonstrates his physical well-being by taking a 2-2 fastball by Michael Bowden over the left center field wall. Yes, Carlos Ruiz is just fine!!

The question now for the Cubs is certainly not “how will Wells do for the team in 2012,” but probably more like “can we flip this guy by All-Star break?” Dempster will be back soon, Wells will more than likely return to AAA, and perhaps the next DL call-up will be Travis Wood…perhaps not, this could be a case of “small sample size” and Wells may be able to get himself out of his pitching funk yet. But this fan is no longer on that bandwagon, now I have to believe that Randy’s done what he can for the Cubs, and that someone else is going to have to be offered the chance to be “that guy” for the Cubs.

That being said, I owe Joe Blanton an apology.
Remember last year when the Phillies had the “best rotation in baseball,” and some of us chuckled snarkily to ourselves when Halladay, Oswalt, Lee, and Hamels were followed by Blanton? You don’t? I was one of those chucklers. Tonight, Joe pitched 7.1 innings of amazing baseball…he is really damn good, and I’m more embarrassed that I ever laughed at him than I am to admit I was really wrong about him in the first place. Setting 2011 aside, Joe Blanton is doing better this season than he ever has before, and maybe this game is another “small sample size” demonstration of his talent, but all the same, he made Randy Wells and the Cubs look a little bit also-ran.

All that aside...my goodness, Michael Bowden looks great!!!

Go CUBS!


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