Stay Classy

Game Sixty-Seven – Cubs 0 Padres 1
WP – Heath Bell (1-2) LP – Carlos Zambrano (7-6) Save – Trevor Hoffman (19)

What will be lost in the latest melee at Wrigley Field is the performance turned in by Carlos Zambrano. Not only did Zambrano have a no-hitter going until 1-out in the 8th inning, he did not let the Derrek Lee-Chris Young bench clearing brawl effect him and remained composed on the mound. Zambrano threw his first complete game since 2005 but unfortunately he gave up his second hit of the game in the 9th inning, a solo home run to Russell Branyan on a 3-2 pitch after he appeared to throw strike three.

While Chris Young hitting Derrek Lee in retaliation for Alfonso Soriano’s actions on Friday has been denied, Young’s comments to Lee appeared to escalate the situation after the pitcher had thrown the ball toward Lee’s head. Lee said after the game:

“I really don’t mind getting hit, but when it’s at my head, I feel like it threatened my health,” the normally mild-mannered Lee said. “I don’t know what his intent was, but it was at my head and he said some things to me I didn’t like. It just escalated.”

Four members of the Cubs and Padres were ejected from the game: Derrek Lee, Chris Young, Jake Peavy and Cubs’ hitting coach Gerald Perry. While the Cubs await to see how long Lee will be suspended for, the MLB front office has to take a look at home plate umpire Mike Everitt for him not paying attention to the situation that was unfolding right in front of him. Everitt should have been in between the two players as Lee walked to first base.

The Padres are now 11 games over .500 for reason and it’s not because of their offense. They have arguably the best all-around pitching staff in the majors and they held a Cubs’ offense minus Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez to just 2 hits in 9 innings….both doubles, one by Mark DeRosa and the other by Ryan Theriot. Once the Cubs lost Lee, the Padres’ pitchers went on cruise control and took advantage of a lineup without a legitimate threat in between Alfonso Soriano and Cliff Floyd and no options on the bench for Lou Piniella.

Carlos Zambrano has certainly changed the course of his season. Zambrano was again masterful on the mound, despite giving up 5 walks. Zambrano induced three double plays and threw a nasty sinker all afternoon. After Lee’s ejection, Ryan Theriot and Mark DeRosa both committed errors but Zambrano did not allow his teammates miscues to effect him and just pitched around the mistakes. Zambrano also made a great defensive play in the 7th inning. Zambrano threw out Hiram Bocachica on a barehanded pickup on the 3rd base side of the mound and the no-look throw beat Bocachica to 1st base.

Marcus Giles broke up the no-hitter with 1-out in the 8th. Zambrano walked Rob Bowen to lead off the inning but struck out Jose Cruz, Jr. for the first out of the inning. Giles then hit a high chopper up the middle that Zambrano got his glove on but was unable to make the play, Giles ended up at 1st for the first Padres’ hit. Zambrano threw two straight balls to Terrmel Sledge before a 4-6-3 double play ended the inning.

The second hit came with 1-out in the 9th after Zambrano appeared to strikeout Russell Branyan. Zambrano continued to throw strikes into the 9th and got ahead in the count 1-2 before not getting the third strike called on a borderline pitch on inside part of the plate to the left-handed slugger. Zambrano did appear however to throw strike three over the outer part of the plate but Mike Everitt called it a ball and on a 3-2 count, Branyan golfed a ball up into the wind and it sailed into the left center field bleachers….it was not a bad pitch by Zambrano.

The Cubs had a couple of chances to plate runs on Saturday. After a leadoff walk to Mark DeRosa in the 2nd inning, a wild pitch with Mike Fontenot at the plate advanced DeRosa to 2nd but Chris Young retired Fontenot, Ryan Theriot and Koyie Hill to end the inning.

After the melee in the 4th inning, Cliff Floyd hit into a 3-6-3 double play but Mark DeRosa came through with the first hit of the day for the Cubs, a double to left center. Fontenot tapped out to the mound to end the inning. Ryan Theriot led off the 5th with a double to right and he stole 3rd while Koyie Hill swung at strike three. Carlos Zambrano hit a high fly to right center, not that deep, but Hiram Bocachica stepped in front of Terrmel Sledge and threw a strike to Rob Bowen at home plate to keep Theriot from scoring the first run of the game.

The Cubs did not manage to put a runner of base from the 6th inning on….

Carlos Zambrano did everything he could to win the game. He pitched a very good game, he kept his calm, made several fine defensive plays off the mound and almost drove in the winning run for the second time in as many starts. It is very rare to see a pitcher lose a game in which they throw 9 innings and allow 1 run on 2 hits.

The 4th inning on Saturday could have been avoided with proper officiating. Mike Everitt has to share in the responsibility for the bench-clearing brawl. A tip of the cap to Marcus Giles for stepping in between the two players and pulling his pitcher back….and to Lou Piniella for getting to the action before the umpires did.

The Melee in the 4th inning….

Chris Young was ahead in the count 1-2, Derrek Lee fouled the 4th pitch of the at bat before getting hit, on what appeared at the time, near his head. Lee’s helmet flew off and he hit the ground. Lee got up and headed toward 1st base and exchanged words with Young. Young then motioned to 1st base and Lee appeared to say, “What?” to Young before grabbing his jersey and taking a swing. Radio reports after the game stated Young asked Lee if he was O.K., Lee responded positively and then Young made a remark that infuriated Lee. Both benches and bullpens emptied and Lou Piniella actually ended up on the ground.

Lou Piniella said after the game he was unsure how the league would handle disciplining Derrek Lee. Piniella said, “the league is inconsistent”, apparently in reference to what unfolded in Atlanta last weekend.

The Cubs have to move past this incident and put a win on the board on Sunday against a former teammate.

Rich Hill is scheduled to take the mound on Sunday against Greg Maddux in the series and season finale against the Padres.

Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver