An Amazin’ Duel

Game One Hundred – Cubs 0 Mets 1 – 10 innings

Mark Prior threw 5 2/3 innings of no hit ball but was matched pitch for pitch by John Maine. The Cubs had only two scoring chances on the day and could not cash in on either of them. The bullpen did their job until the 10th inning when Glendon Rusch gave up a bases loaded single to Jose Valentin to give the Mets the win.

Mark Prior was the story on Wednesday afternoon at Shea, this was the first start in a long time that Prior was effective. Although he walked 5 on the day, he got the outs when he needed them and the Cubs defense was tremendous behind him. Ronny Cedeno and John Mabry made two very good defensive plays. In the end the best team in the NL salvaged the last game of a very good series for the Cubs.

Mark Prior had clearly his best outing of the season and despite giving up 5 walks he held the Mets hitless through the 5 2/3 innings he pitched….the Mets did not record their first hit of the day until 1 out in the 7th, Jose Valentin blooped a single to center that should have been caught by either Ronny Cedeno or Juan Pierre. Prior was “effectively wild”, he had command problems early but did not allow any of the 3 leadoff walks to score. Prior retired the Mets in order only once in the 5th, he was very sharp in that inning and had his best outing in a very long time. Prior left in the 6th after a 2-out walk to Carlos Beltran. Prior threw 103 pitches, 56 for strikes and was close to his highest pitch count of the season (109 on July 4th against the Astros). Despite the loss what Prior did on Wednesday was very encouraging to see for the organization.

The old Cub killer Jose Valentin hit the single in the 10th off of Glendon Rusch that gave the Mets the victory. Rusch retired the first three batters he faced (1 in the 9th and 2 in the 10th) before Carlos Beltran singled to right center. With the shift on, Carlos Delgado doubled to left and Dusty decided to walk David Wright and take their chances with Valentin. On a 1-2 count….Valentin ended the game.

The Cubs’ offense could not get anything going against Mets pitching on Wednesday. John Maine was very good on the mound and ran his scoreless innings streak to 16 (9 against the Astros and 7 against the Cubs). The Cubs managed only 3 hits and 3 walks off of Maine and 4 hits all day and they did not hit a ball hard all afternoon.

Glendon Rusch continues to be ineffective in any role the Cubs try to put him in. While most will say the Cubs should have hit and scored more, Rusch continues to be unable to record the final out of an inning. Many of Rusch’s troubles this season (and beyond) have come with 2 outs. Whether he looses focus or not, no one knows but he continues to not be able to record that all-important third out of an inning. Where was David Aardsma?

No one ever likes to see the Cubs lose and it can be really difficult to find a positive in a loss, but today there was a huge positive and while the season may be lost, Prior’s performance was very encouraging to see and so was the entire teams performance over the last three games at Shea.

The Cubs head home to start a 4-game series against the Cardinals. Rich Hill is scheduled to take the mound on Thursday night, so there will be a roster move. With Hill scheduled to face Jeff Weaver, Thursday’s game could be the complete opposite of Wednesday….this could be a wild one.

Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt