Wood’s Long-Ball Afternoon

Game Forty – Cubs 3 Nationals 5
Updated – 11:03pm C.T.

Kerry Wood’s first start at Wrigley Field since July 15th of last year started out like a script from a Hollywood movie as he struck out the first batter he had faced since last August and struck out 2 of the first 3 batters on the afternoon. But with 1 out in the 2nd inning, Ryan Zimmerman hit the first of three home runs of the afternoon off of Wood and the Nationals tallied 4 on the afternoon against Cubs pitching. Wood ended his afternoon in the 5th inning after allowing 4 runs on 5 hits, he did not gave up a walk and struck out six on 71 pitches. Wood had control of his pitches and topped out around 95 MPH on the afternoon.

Kerry Wood had a fine outing, especially considering Thursday was only his third start of the season and was very efficient, of his 71 pitches….52 were for strikes. The home run by Zimmerman was on a curve ball that was hung over the plate and unfortunately 3 of the 5 hits he allowed were home runs. The next few days are big for Kerry Wood and let’s all hope he continues to pitch and does not miss any starts for the rest of the season. He will have better days and if the offense could have capitalized on the numerous chances they had, Wood would have recorded a no-decision instead of a loss.

In the 2nd inning after the home run to Zimmerman, Wood gave up a single to Marlon Byrd and he advanced on a passed ball by Michael Barrett….that call could have went either way. Gonzalez grounded out, then Damian Jackson hit a 2-run homer to left. Wood got out of the 2nd and Alfonso Soriano led off the 3rd with a solo shot to left field. Marlon Anderson followed the Soriano home run with a single and after that Wood settled in and even erased Marlon Anderson on a strike ‘em out throw ‘em out to end the inning. Wood actually retired the last 8 batters he faced, 4 via the strikeout. Wood finished the game the way he started it….with a K.

Will Ohman replaced Wood in the 6th and gave up a leadoff home run to Marlon Anderson….the Nationals 4th of the day. After a double to Nick Johnson, Ohman settled in as well and retired the next 3 batters he faced. Roberto Novoa, Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry held the Nationals in check, although Eyre walked the first 2 batters he faced, and kept the Cubs in the ballgame….they only allowed a hit and the 2 walks by Eyre over the last 3 innings and the 2 walks were the only free passes Cubs’ pitching allowed on the day.

The offense was staked to an early hole before the first pitch was even thrown. Aramis Ramirez was unable to start and is listed as day-to-day with a mild lower back strain. Dusty started Neifi at 3rd base, hit him 6th and that decision would loom large at the end of the day.

Juan Pierre had another bad day and was 0-5 with 2 strikeouts (one at a crucial point in the ballgame) and hit into a huge double play. Pierre has to relax and start playing ball the way he is capable….the Cubs season depends on it and his play right now is costing him a lot of money….how about that extension now? Matt Murton continued to shine and added 3 more hits on Thursday afternoon and is 3-11 hitting in the 2-hole….but his patience and fundamentals are worth a mention and cannot be read in the box score.

The Cubs got on the board in the 6th after a leadoff single by Michael Barrett, Jacque Jones followed with the same and Barrett went to 3rd. Neifi Perez singled to center to score Barrett. John Mabry singled to load the bases and Jones scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Ronny Cedeno. Cedeno had an excellent at bat, fouled off pitch after pitch….but was unable to get a hit, but he did his job and got the runner in from 3rd. Aramis Ramirez pinch hit for Will Ohman and singled to center to score Neifi….John Mabry to 2nd and with 1 out, Juan Pierre grounded into a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning and the threat.

In the 7th and 8th innings the Cubs left 3 on base and 2 in scoring position. Freddie Bynum hit a 2-out single to center in the 8th, stole 2nd and was stranded when Juan Pierre struck out swinging. But it was the bottom of the 9th that will keep the Cubs Faithful scratching their heads for the next few days….if not longer.

Todd Walker doubled with 1-out and moved to 3rd on a fly out by Michael Barrett. Jacque Jones showed a lot of patience and took a walk and on the second pitch from Chad Cordero, Neifi Perez attempted to bunt….with the tying runs on base in the bottom of the 9th, with 2 outs. WHAT WAS HE THINKING? Is there anyone out there that can justify this? Well apparently Dusty and Neifi can, he is what they had to say (from Cubs.com):

“What he’s thinking is that the third baseman [Zimmerman] was way back,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “If he gets that ball down anywhere but to the pitcher, he beats it out and we have [John] Mabry up next. That’s what he was thinking. It’s not a bad play, especially because the third baseman was way deep. “If he gets that ball anywhere close to the line, he beats that out and we’ve got a run and we’ve got runners at first and second. It didn’t work.” Perez said he wanted to catch the Nationals by surprise. “If I get that ball where I should’ve gotten the ball, I get a base hit, because the third baseman was way back,” Perez said. “I didn’t get the job done. “I’d do it again. That’s my game. I’m not a power hitter. That’s part of my game right there.”

Everyone in the park was silent, including Pat Hughes and Ron Santo….what a bizarre play!!! And “his game” is only worth .197 at the plate….looking up at the Mendoza Line!!!

This is one the Cubs should have won. They left 12 on base and again….no patience, they only recorded 2 walks and they were late in the game. 152 pitches for the Nationals…..143 for the Cubs.

It’s off to the Southside….welcome to the Civil War!!!

Quote of the Day

"Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you." - Arnold Palmer
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