Creeping Inexorably Toward A Worthwhile Sub-Heading.
Sunday, April 11, 2004
Game Notes 6: Taking The Braves To The Wood-Shed
I made a plea at the end of the game notes from last evening's contest for a "good outing from Wood and a shelling of Ortiz," and while the big run totals didn't come until after Russ left, the spirit of my request was honored by the baseball gods. The Cubs got an outstanding outing from Kerry Wood and finally put a game well out of reach in a 10-2 victory, sealing the series with the Braves, and bringing their overall record back to the .500 mark.
I wound up just taking notes today, so I've tossed them in here for your perusal.
Straight fastball, waist high, inner half to Corey Patterson = Bad Idea.
The slider that Wood used to strike out Larry in the third inning should be illegal. Seriously, that's just not fair.
Back to that third inning: If you're wondering what might separate Kerry Wood v.2004 from the other incarnations, this was an instructive frame. Men on first and third, nobody out, after a walk and a sharp single, with the heart of the Braves order coming up. Previous years would have seen at least one run score, maybe three or four, as Kerry got mad at himself and made mistakes because of it. Today, he struck out the side. Like a Dickensian orphan, I say, "More, please."
I know it's not a part of this game, but Adam Dunn just went deep again. That's four in six games, all solo shots. When Austin Kearns figures it out, and he will, the league had better hope Dunn has cooled off, or he's going to knock in a boatload of runs.
Fourth inning: When I said, "More please," I didn't necessarily mean right away, Kerry. Nevertheless, the six straight K's are muy impresionante.
Seven in a row, and that's where the streak ends here in the fifth, with a lineout by Mark DeRosa to right. Perhaps the most impressive part of the streak was that all seven men struck out swinging, and from what I could tell, not one of them had any idea what they were swinging at. Just awesome.
Sixth inning: Wood has retired the side on a double play off the bat of Andruw Jones, and he's gotten this far on 87 pitches. Not Maddux-like, to be sure, but when you consider it took 54 to get through the first three frames, there's a lot to like in the way he's brought it around today.
Ah, yes, the broken-bat-flare-over-the-infield play, expertly executed by Todd Walker. Barrett did a nice job of understanding that no one would catch it, and made his way home with ease.
I just saw Corey Patterson hit a grounder the other way. I also saw a funny bit by Carrot Top, a secure version of Microsoft Windows, and the Great Gazoo, so if I were you, I'd verify independently before spreading the word.
Some trouble for Wood here in the seventh, as two consecutive doubles score the first run for the Braves. Luckily, David Wise helps things along by swinging at ball four a couple of times, the last one resulting in a strikeout. Kerry managed to make Adam LaRoche look silly on three pitches, and DeRosa hit the first ball he saw to Corey Patterson to seal it. That should be it for Wood, as he's thrown 105, now, but it was a fine performance.
Boy, Moises Alou looks lousy right now. He just doesn't seem like he knows what he wants to do up there. In stark contrast, Aramis Ramirez has looked like the real deal in this series, filling the gaps time and again. Those two facts might lead some folks to the conclusion that Alou should spend some time in the six or seven spot of the order, while Ramirez and Lee move up a slot. Too bad one of those folks isn't Dusty Baker.
I always like to see a guy respond when the man ahead of him is intentionally walked. Michael Barrett did exactly that, as he stroked a hanging slider over the left field wall after Todd Hollandsworth was given the IBB in front of him. "Are you sure you want to pitch to me? Okay. It's your funeral." Bam!
This strikes me as an overly strict adherence to team roles. With a seven run lead, and a game tomorrow, do you really need to use your best reliever, LaTroy Hawkins, to pitch the eighth? Didn't think so. This is when you bring in Andy Freakin' Pratt, Dusty.
Wow! Even Gonzo gets into the act, taking the ball below his knees deep.
Strike what I said about Alou earlier, as he launches a letter high pitch into the stands before Gonzalez can catch his breath in the dugout.
Now A-Ram gets robbed of the team's third consecutive round-tripper by Andruw Jones. Will Cunnane is now officially "taking one for the team." In fact, the way Cunnane is working out there today, I would think about lobbying the league to have any offensive numbers compiled during his time on the mound cut in half in the interest of statistical viability.
The most surprising part of this offensive outburst was the lack of statements by the announcing crew to the effect of "save some for tomorrow," or, "don't use it all in one place." Breaking the four-run barrier for the first time in five games will do that to you.
That's all for me. Tomorrow brings the team back to Chicago, where Greg Maddux will play in front of the home crowd as a Cub for the first time since 1992, as they raise the NL Central Division title flag. That should be good stuff.
Thanks for stopping by, and if you're celebrating a holiday today, I hope you have a good one!