Happy Days

Game One Hundred Two – Cubs 8 Reds 1
WP – Sean Marshall (5-4) LP – Aaron Harang (10-3) Save – None

wflag.jpg Saturday at Great American Ball Park was 70’s night complete with slinky giveaways, retro commercials, disco music and Barry Williams aka Greg Brady throwing out the first pitch and singing the 7th inning stretch. The only thing that was missing were the Cubs two-toned blue striped jerseys. In front of a sold out crowd of 42,365 it was the Cubs that supplied the fireworks to a stadium filled with more blue than red. Alfonso Soriano went yard twice, drove in 5 and added a single for good measure that should have driven in another run. Derrek Lee hit his 10th home run in the 1st inning off of Aaron Harang before he left with lower back spasms. The Cubs showed a lot of patience at the plate. They walked 6 times with Ryan Theriot receiving 2 of the free passes.

Sean Marshall tossed a gem. Lou Piniella’s 5th starter held the Reds to 1 run on 6 hits in 6+ innings of work. Jacque Jones committed an error in the 4th inning that led to the only run the Reds scored but made up for his mistake with two excellent catches that saved runs later in the ballgame. Sean Marshall gave his team what they needed, another quality start. And they rewarded him with a long overdue win.

Alfonso Soriano played to the left field crowd at Great American Ball Park the same way he does at Wrigley and it was easy to do with the majority of the fan base in attendance wearing blue. Before every inning they greeted him with a standing ovation and he played along with the same enthusiasm he does when he is in front of the Faithful at the Friendly Confines. It is rare to see a visiting player receive so much attention….but not every player is Alfonso Soriano.

The Cubs had struggled in the past against Aaron Harang and to say he had the Cubs number of late would be an understatement but after Soriano was robbed by Adam Dunn on a running catch for the first out of the game, Harang walked Ryan Theriot and it was very clear something was wrong with the Reds’ ace. Derrek Lee then stepped to the plate and took a 2-1 offering from Harang over the left center field wall to give the Cubs the lead and Sean Marshall more runs than he would end up needing.

Harang was replaced by lefty Mike Gosling to start the 2nd inning. Jacque Jones walked with 1-out and Jason Kendall followed with a single to left. Gosling ran the count to 3-1 on Sean Marshall before he was able to lay down the sacrifice bunt and advance both runners into scoring position with 2-outs. Alfonso Soriano then stepped in and took a 1-0 pitch into the upper deck. Ryan Theriot walked but was picked off to end the inning.

Gosling kept the Cubs’ bats quiet until the 5th inning. Sean Marshall led off with his first hit of the season, a double to right center. Soriano then hit what appeared to be a double off the wall in right center but Norris Hopper made a fine throw back in and Sean Marshall was thrown out at the plate trying to score from 2nd base….Marshall was at best jogging around the bases and should have scored easily. Theriot lined out to right and the Reds intentionally walked Derrek Lee. Cliff Floyd responded with a double to left center that scored Soriano but Mike Quade held Lee at 3rd after he was already half way down the line. They intentionally walked Mark DeRosa to face Mike Fontenot. Pete Mackanin went to his pen for Jon Coutlangus who struck out Fontenot to end the inning.

Victor Santos retired the six batters he faced in his 2 innings of work. Angel Pagan doubled to lead off the 8th against Mike Stanton but was stranded there when Jones was thrown out at 1st by Stanton after a swinging bunt down the 1st base line.

Todd Coffey pitched the 9th and gave up a lead off single to Kendall. Matt Murton followed with a strike out but Soriano came through again with a homer to left, his 18th of the season.

While the Cubs offense walked 6 times, 2 intentionally, they did show more patience at the plate. They made the Reds staff throw pitches and worked deep into the counts….it was very refreshing to see. Those one pitch at bats just make an opposing pitcher’s life way to easy.

What else can be said about Sean Marshall? He is not flashy, his numbers will not jump off of a stat sheet but he continues to do his job. He keeps his team in the games he starts and gives them every opportunity to put up a win….and it was more of the same on Saturday.

Marshall retired the first 7 batters he faced and the first hit was a bunt single by the Reds’ catcher, David Ross. After a sacrifice bunt by Gosling advanced Ross to 2nd, Marshall struck out Ryan Freel to end the inning. The second hit Marshall allowed was another bunt single, this time by Norris Hopper to lead off the 4th inning. Jeff Conine followed with a solid single to left center. Jacque Jones booted the ball and the Reds had runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs. Brandon Phillips grounded out to 3rd, Hopper scored on the play but Conine held at 2nd. Adam Dunn grounded out to Derrek Lee, Conine advanced then Jeff Keppinger flied out to left to end the inning.

Jacque Jones made a very nice running catch to rob Edwin Encarnacion of a hit to lead off the 5th. Jones made another great catch of a ball hit by David Ross to take away another extra base hit. Marshall walked Juan Castro with 2 outs and gave up a single to right by Ryan Freel. But Marshall retired Hoper on a fly out to left to end the inning.

Jeff Conine led off the 6th with a single to left but Marshall turned a 1-6-3 double play to end the threat. He took the mound to start the 7th before Jeff Keppinger single to right center chased him from the game. Piniella brought in Senor Nasty, Carlos Marmol to face Encarnacion. He popped out to DeRosa in foul ground but Ross pushed another bunt past the mound for a hit….and Ken Griffey, Jr. was called on to pinch hit.

Marmol stuck out Junior and Ryan Freel to end the inning….just plain nasty!!

jj728pub.jpg Marmol stayed in to pitch the 8th. He retired Hopper on a comebacker to the mound that he deflected to Ronny Cedeno. Conine singled and advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch. Jacque Jones made a great catch on a ball hit by Brandon Phillips to end the inning and the Faithful near the Cubs’ dugout showed their appreciation with a standing ovation as he left the field.

Ryan Dempster pitched the 9th….well, sort of. He gave up a lead off double to Jeff Keppinger down the 3rd base line and then walked Encarnacion and Ross to load the bases. Javier Valentin stepped in and after the count was 1-1, Dempster had thrown 12 pitches, 3 were strikes. Dempster collected himself and struck out Valentin. Ryan Freel popped out to DeRosa and Hopper grounded out to Ryan Theriot. Theriot made a great diving stop in the hole and threw to Cedeno for the 27th out.

Lou Piniella’s crew rebounded very nicely after two lackluster defeats at the hands of the Cardinals and Reds.

Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to take the mound in the rubber game on Sunday against Matt Belisle. The win on Saturday guaranteed the Cubs of at least a .500 road trip but 4-2 has a much better ring to it….

Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne