The Cubs’ wild ride

I know, I know. Another breathless Cubs column, right?

Well, um, yeah.

Sorry, but you likely have no idea what it was like to be Cubs fan on Friday when Chicago overcame not one, but two eight-run deficits to come all the way back and beat the Colorado Rockies.

Granted, these aren’t last September’s Rockies, but still. 8-0? 9-1? And to come back and win?

The whole column is exactly how I approached the game as it was going on. Absolutely. Once it was 8-0 and Ted Lilly was in the showers after the third inning, the game was gone. At least it was in my mind. Heck, the Cubbies had just won four straight, three of which they had to rally in the late innings to win. I wasn’t going to be choosy. 

Even when they started to come back with three runs in the sixth, it was still a foregone conclusion that the game was over. Guys like Micah Hoffpauir and Henry Blanco were in the game. Ryan Theriot and Aramis Ramirez were in the dugout. The Cubs were missing four regulars out of eight. Done deal.

But after Blanco’s two-run bomb in the seventh trimmed the deficit to three runs with eight outs left, I have to admit, something started to stir in me. And when Mark DeRosa’s routine fly ball was blown out of the ballpark, it was jump around and pump your fist in the living room time.

And the way Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood slammed the door only put the icing on the cake. This was indeed one of those days, one of those games every fan lives for. You had already counted the loss in the standings, and all of a sudden, you were back adding it into the win column.

A crazy game made for a great day, one in which you couldn’t have smacked the smile off of my face or beaten the sound of Ron Santo out of my mind. This is what being a fan is all about. 

And it will serve as a good reminder when a game gets ripped out of the Cubs’ hands later this season.

Sorry you had to come along for the ride. But look at it this way:

At least you didn’t have to suffer through a Lakers/Celtics column.

Here’s the column:

Baseball works its magic again

One of those days.

That’s all it is. Can’t be greedy. This is gonna happen sometimes.

The Chicago Cubs had won four in a row, the last two in which they trailed late in the game only to come back, one of which was done in extra innings.

So this is OK. Not bad, really. It’s baseball. You can’t win them all. 

Not bad? Well, check that. This is bad. It isn’t bad in the grand scheme of wins and losses. Even with a loss here and Cardinals win, the Cubs would still be in first place, albeit by just half a game. It’s early. Way early. Too early to scoreboard watch.

But there is bad news. Ted Lilly, who had been the Cubs’ best pitcher most of last season, got shelled again, sent to the showers after gophering up seven runs in three innings. Bad news there. It had seemed like Lilly was coming around in his last few starts. Not now.  Cubs fans can worry again.

And so here they are, down 8-0 through three innings. Done and done. Chalk it up to a bad day. It happens. It’s baseball.

Manager Lou Piniella knows it. He’s been around the game long enough to know a lost cause. But lost causes can precipitate silver linings. First baseman Derrek Lee has needed a day off for rest, so Lou got him out of there in the middle of the game. Catcher Geovany Soto too. Ryan Theriot and Aramis Ramirez were already taking the day off.

Knock off early. Take the rest of the day. Gear up for Saturday.

Let a 28-year-old rookie get some cuts. Let the backup catcher save the emerging young star’s knees for a few innings. Let the long men go in the game and get some work. 

Go get ’em tomorrow.

The Cubs scratch for a run in the fourth, but give it right back in the top of the fifth. Ugly day. Ugly score. 9-1.

Ugly.

Hey, OK. Kosuke Fukudome just belted a two-run shot. Nice to see. Piniella had just bemoaned a lack of power coming from the club’s left-handed batters last night. And oh look, Jim Edmonds got another hit, this one his first homer as a Cub. That’s a good sign. He’s been dreadful since signing for the veteran’s minimum.

Hey, who knows? No, not the game. That’s over. But maybe these few worthless innings will get some of the guys, guys struggling like Edmonds, on track. This could help the club down the road.

It’s the seventh, it’s 9-4, and runners are on against Jon Lieber. Good time to let Scott Eyre get some work out of the pen. Lou’s lost confidence in him, here’s a good safe place for him to begin to earn some of it back. Game’s already gone. Eyre gets a big out to end the seventh. Hmmm, maybe that’ll help down the line, too.

You know, Henry Blanco’s been hitting pretty OK in a reserve role. Hitting over .300, it turns out. Mike Fontenot got a one-out hit, so that’s good, because he’s kind of been struggling and…

Whoa now. Wait a minute. Wait just a minute. Blanco just went over the wall. That’s a two-run shot. 9-6 now. The wind is blowing out, you know. Blanco hasn’t homered since when, 1996? Oh, 2006. Still…

The 28-year-old rook just singled to chase the Rockies starter, Aaron Cook. Can’t hold a 9-1 lead? Ugh. Here comes Manny Corpas. 

And Fukudome gets a hit. There’s two on and only one out. What if…

Oh my. Edmonds just got another hit, his third of the day. It’s a double, he’s hitting .186, and both runs score. It’s what now? What is it? 9-8? It’s 9-8! The Cubs still have eight outs left, the wind is blowing out and there’s the tying run standing on second and…

Strike one to Mark DeRosa. But then a ball. Another ball. Ahead in the count now. Just a hit, just a bloop, something, somewhere.

Foul. 2-2 count. Ball. Filled up. Find a hole, De-Ro.

Fly ball. Not hit that hard.

But it’s to left. The wind. Remember the wind? Yeah, the wind…

HOME RUN! Another two-run shot! 10-9! 10-9! 10-9! No way. No freaking way. 10-9, Cubs.

Need more, right? The wind. Think of the wind. It’s blowing out, you know. One run against six outs? That can’t be enough.

But that’s Carlos Marmol out there. Corpas needed 14 pitches to give up two hits and four runs. Marmol needs only 10 to strike out the side.

Down to Kerry Wood. This can be sketchy. He’s been all or nothing this year. And Ryan Spilborghs is leading off the ninth. He kills the Cubs. Kills ’em. He’s already homered today. 

Woody walks him. OK. Breathe. At least it’s not a fly ball to left. Anything in the air could be gone.

Ball. Ball. Ball. 3-0 to Garrett Atkins. Oh boy. A get-me-over strike. 3-1. Careful. Careful. Careful…

Ground ball! 4-6-3. Two outs!

One more.

But it’s Todd Helton, he of the three-run bomb in the first inning. My gosh, how long ago was that?

Strike one. Good job, Woody. Had to get ahead. 

Fly ball. Uh-oh.

Wait, it’s to right field. It’s shallow. It’s… It’s… It’s…

Caught!

10-9, Cubs.

One of those days. One of those rare, glorious, incredible days when baseball reminds you why it can be so special.

It happens. 

It’s baseball.

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Filed under Chicago Cubs, Designated Hitter, Major League Baseball, NBA, Sports, Sports columns, The Sanford Herald

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