Creeping Inexorably Toward A Worthwhile Sub-Heading.
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
After last night's 3-2 victory, that makes it two games in a row where the starter really gutted it out. Okay, so it's kinda scary when you allow eight hits, a walk, two runs and strike out thirteen over eight and two-thirds innings and it can still be said that you were struggling a bit, but Mark Prior is a different animal. After throwing 83 pitches through the first five innings, I thought he was going to go six, maybe seven, even with Dusty's annoying tendency to stretch him out every chance he gets. It looked like guys had a bead on his fastball, and while the only real problem had been Roger Cedeno's solo homer, he still looked like a pitcher who was getting close to 200 innings for the first time. Just a little tired, and a little frustrated at being a little tired.
Then he turned it on. After getting Jason Phillips to fly out, he struck out the next four men he faced, finally ending the seventh by getting Cedeno, who had hit him hard all game, to ground out to first. He almost got the complete game, but after giving up an RBI double with two out in the ninth, and having racked up 124 pitches, Dusty went and got him and let Borowski wrap things up.
As for the first game of this series, I've got to hand it to Matt Clement. Not only did he throw a great game, only allowing 3 balls to leave the infield (all outs), three infield hits, one unearned run (on a wild pitch that could have been called a passed ball), all over seven innings, but he did all of this with his groin still causing him some discomfort (at least the last couple of innings he was out there, he had a pretty decent limp going). The amazing thing is, he did a great job on a couple of balls hit to the right side, getting over to first to cover the bag in plenty of time (and receiving picture perfect throws from Randall "The Man With the Golden Arm" Simon).
In fact, the whole game was a relief from some of the freakish ball we've been getting lately. Cubs go up early, shut down opposition, never really get threatened. I like those types of games. They lessen my chances of having a stroke. Last night was a little hairier at the end, but still a far cry from the games against the Reds, which bore closer resemblance to Rocky movies than baseball games.
If the Cubs take care of business today, it puts them in a decent position going into the weekend. Despite the thumping they gave the Rockies last night, Houston has consistently struggled to win at Planet Coors, and that combined with having to follow with a series in St. Louis gives the Cubs a reasonable shot to gain ground if they take care of their end of the bargain.