Creeping Inexorably Toward A Worthwhile Sub-Heading.
Friday, April 23, 2004
Game Notes 16: Chicago, Mr. Maddux; Mr. Maddux, Chicago
We all got a chance to see the Greg Maddux we'd been waiting for today, and boy, was it fun to watch. The Professor has reached the point in his career where he needs to be spot on with his control in order to get the job done, and except for a couple exceptions, he was on target all day.
I realized after his last outing that to get an idea of what you were in for, all you had to do was watch where the catcher set up and where the ball actually went. If Mad Dog hits the glove consistently, it's going to be a good day. This isn't the case with someone like Kerry Wood. Although you'd like to see Wood have his best possible control, particularly with his fastball, he relies much more on his stuff, and his good days tend to come when his breaking pitches are sharp.
Maddux relies almost entirely on a combination of changing speeds and pinpoint pitch placement, and so it was with high levels of glee that I noted how little Paul Bako's glove moved through the first inning. Here was the man we had waited for, and while the third inning got a bit sticky, he did what he came to do today, and that's cause for celebration.
Another reason for dancing in the streets is the continued alien possession of Corey Patterson by a being that can control the strike zone. His discipline didn't result in a hit, but it did bring about two (two!) walks, the first of which found him trotting home with Moises Alou after Mo had parked his seventh dinger of the year.
Joe Borowski came away with the save, but he continued to just look off. I've said this before, but I'm not concerned with his velocity loss. Plenty of pitchers have made the adjustment after losing some steam, and if everything was right, I think Joe would too. Yet, once again, there was no there there, as his pitches didn't pop and seemed to just float from his hand. His first three pitches to Jason Phillips were sliders, and the one decent one was book ended by two floaters, the last of which nearly wound up in the bleachers. I have a hard time believing that something isn't wrong, but until I hear otherwise, I'll hope he can pull out of it.
These are my favorite type of games. Crisply played (game time was 2:22), and despite the close score, never so tight as to be nerve wracking due to the Cubs' excellent mound work. Here's to more of these contests throughout the year, with results just like today's.