Picking Up the Pieces

Game Sixty-Five – Cubs 5 Mariners 4
WP – Bob Howry (3-3) LP – Brandon Morrow (3-1, BS 2) Save – None

wflag.jpg Jason Marquis was just short of perfect until the 6th inning. Marquis had allowed just one base runner until he hit Jeff Weaver with 1-out and he was unable to get back into a rhythm. Before Marquis was able to record the second out of the inning he allowed 4 runs to score on 1 hit with help from an error by Mark DeRosa. The Cubs bullpen gave up one hit and a walk in the last 3 2/3 innings of the game to pick up the win. Carlos Marmol struck out the side in the 7th inning, Clay Rapada made his big league debut and Bob Howry retired the four batters he faced, two via strikeouts.

The Cubs scored 3 times in the first inning and had runners on base in every frame against Jeff Weaver but could not add to their lead before falling behind in the 6th inning. Cesar Izturis drove in the tying and winning runs in the 8th with a 1-out double to left. The Cubs won their first series at Wrigley in nearly a month and are now within 5 games of .500.

The Cubs should have put this game away early, but they did not and yet the win was still impressive. They received clutch hitting from an unlikely source and a great combined outing by the bullpen but most importantly they did not give up. Good teams find ways to win games and receive contributions from the entire roster and for once Lou Piniella was the beneficiary of solid contributions from just about his entire crew.

Jason Marquis appeared to have returned to his early season form and looked well on his way to earning a victory, and maybe another complete game. He had retired the first batter of each inning he pitched, including the 6th and had given up just 1 hit….a double to Jason Burke in the 3rd inning. Marquis was keeping the ball down. He struck out 5 Mariners in the first 5 innings and recorded 8 groundball outs to 3 fly ball outs….and did not allow a walk.

Marquis retired Burke to start the 6th on a ground out to 3rd but on a 2-2 count, he hit Jeff Weaver on his right arm and never recovered. He walked Ichiro on 4 pitches and after a visit from Larry Rothschild fell behind Lopez. Marquis got the ground ball he needed but DeRosa could not handle it, the ball ended up in left and Weaver scored the first run of the game. Marquis walked Guillen to load the bases and then gave up the first hit of the inning to Raul Ibanez….a double to the ivy in left center that emptied the bases. Lou Piniella made the slow walk and Marquis left after giving up just 2 hits. The Mariners actually walked as many times as they hit safely on the day and it is very rare to see a Major League team score more runs (4) than hits (3).

Michael Wuertz ended the 6th with back-to-back groundouts to DeRosa.

Carlos Marmol struck out the side in the 7th and gave up a single to Ichiro to start the 8th. Lopez sacrificed Ichiro to 2nd and Marmol walked Guillen on 4 pitches. Piniella brought in Clay Rapada to face Ibanez. Rapada just missed striking out Ibanez but ending up retiring him on a fly out to right….Rapada did his job in his Cubs’ debut. Bobby Howry came in and retired Richie Sexson on a fly out to center to end the 8th. Howry stayed in to pitch the 9th and struck out Yuniesky Betancourt and Willie Bloomquist before retiring pinch hitter Kenji Johjima on a ground out to short to end the game.

The Cubs jumped on Jeff Weaver in the 1st inning and it appeared early on Weaver would have another short outing. Weaver gave up 10 hits but the Cubs were not able to string together any hits with runners on base.

Alfonso Soriano broke out of his 0-21 slump with a hustle double in the 1st inning. Felix Pie tripled to score Soriano and scored on a 1-out single to center by Cliff Floyd. With 2 outs, Mike Fontenot tripled to right and Floyd scored all the way from 1st base. Of the 4 Cub hits in the 1st inning, 3 were for extra bases.

Soriano singled with 2 outs in the 2nd and Pie just missed a home run to right. Soriano and Pie were able to get back on track on Thursday and so was the Cubs offense….early on. Every starter recorded at least one hit with the exception of Derrek Lee (0-4) but Cliff Floyd was 3-4 with a run scored and a RBI.

The Cubs offense showed a lot of patience down by a run to start the 8th. Brandon Morrow issued walks to Mark DeRosa and Mike Fontenot to start the inning. Koyie Hill put down a perfect sacrifice bunt to 3rd to advance both DeRosa and Fontenot. With runners on 2nd and 3rd and 1-out, Cesar Izturis doubled to left to plate both runners and gave the Cubs the lead. Angel Pagan reached on a bunt single (Morrow bobbled the ball but Pagan was given a single) to put runners on 1st and 3rd for Soriano. Soriano struck out and Pie grounded out to the end the inning.

The Cubs almost let another one get away, but the key word there is….almost.

The Cubs will return back to the National League on Friday afternoon at Wrigley with a battle of southpaws….Ted Lilly versus David Wells with Greg Maddux scheduled to pitch the series finale on Sunday.

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon