Game One Hundred Twenty-Six – Cubs 5 Mets 2
WP – Kevin Gregg (5-5) LP – Brian Stokes (1-3, BS 1) Save – Carlos Marmol (6)
The Chicago Cubs avoided the mediocrity mark once again this week with a come-from-behind win against the New York Mets. Ted Lilly put together another quality start but ended up with nothing to show for it. Lilly allowed just one run while he was on the mound (two runs on six hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings) and if Alfonso Soriano could have held on to Fernando Tatis’s double in the eighth off of Kevin Gregg he would not have been in line for a loss.
Milton Bradley had another big day at the plate but misplayed a ball in the field that led to the Mets first run. After Bradley scored the game’s first run on a single to left by Derrek Lee in the first inning, Bradley appeared to call off Jeff Baker on a pop up into shallow right in the second. Jeff Francoeur scored on what was ruled a bloop single by Omir Santos.
Bradley and Soriano both made up for their gaffes in the field in the bottom of the eighth. Milton Bradley doubled down the right field line on a 3-1 pitch from Brian Stokes. Derrek Lee flied out deep to right, Bradley tagged and advanced to third on the productive out … which made a difference.
Aramis Ramirez singled to left past the drawn in infield on the first pitch from Brian Stokes. Bradley scored and tied the game at two. After falling behind in the count 1-2, Jeff Baker ended up working a walk to put two on with one out for Alfonso Soriano.
Alfonso Soriano launched a 0-2 pitch from Stokes into the first row of the bleachers in left center … his 20th home run of the season and his first since July 29. A very gimpy Soriano circled the bases and will likely be held out of Saturday’s game according to Lou Piniella.
The Cubs defense both helped and hurt the cause on Friday afternoon. While Milton Bradley and Alfonso Soriano had adventures in the outfield, Derrek Lee and Jeff Baker made two fine plays to take hits away from the Mets early in the game.
Kevin Gregg was solid and should have escaped without allowing the inherited runner to score. Most big league outfielders would have made the catch to end the eighth that Soriano could not haul in. Soriano recovered quickly after the miscue, fired the ball to Ryan Theriot who’s perfect relay to Geovany Soto cut down Daniel Murphy at home plate to end the inning … and keep the Cubs just a run down at the time.
Carlos Marmol picked up his second save after being named the team’s closer. Marmol walked Omir Santos to start the inning but after a deep fly out to right by Cory Sullivan, and a nice catch by Milton Bradley, Marmol struck out Jeremy Reed and Gary Sheffield to end the game.
The Cubs rewarded their skipper with a win on his 66th birthday and improved to two games over the .500 mark on the year … Ted Lilly was gunning for his tenth win of the year … and with any kind of consistent run support this season he would easily have 15 wins under his belt by now. The Cubs still do not have a 10-game winner on their pitching staff and the sole reason is the offense. ‘The Bulldog‘ was as good as can be expected once again. Ted Lilly has quietly become the number one pitcher on the Cubs’ staff with the consistency he brings with him every time he takes the mound.
The Mets were retired in short order in the first inning. Lilly set the tone from his first pitch. Jeff Francoeur led off the second with a double to left. After a single bloop single to left by Fernando Tatis put runners on first and third with no outs, Omir Santos drove in the tying run with a bloop single to right off of Milton Bradley’s glove.
With runners on first and second with no outs, Cory Sullivan lined out to a diving Jeff Baker. Wilson Valdez hit a slow roller up the third baseline. Aramis Ramirez made a nice barehanded pickup and retired Valdez at first. With runners on second and third with two outs, Pat Misch struck out looking to end the inning.
Lilly worked out around a leadoff single by Angel Pagan in the third … then went on cruise control after a diving backhanded pick by Derrek Lee on a grounder ticketed to right off the bat of Luis Castillo.
Lilly worked around an error by left in the fourth by Alfonso Soriano and a bloop single by Wilson Valdez later in the inning. One of the many things that is often overlooked during the game is the amount of work a fielding error costs a pitcher. Soriano’s drop, while it did not cost the Cubs a run, Ted Lilly threw an additional nine pitches that inning. Defense is so important and is overlooked on a daily basis.
Lilly retired the Mets in order in the fifth and faced the minimum in the sixth after issuing his first walk of the game. Lilly retired five in a row before the free pass and sat the Mets down in order once again in the seventh.
Angel Pagan led off the eighth with a double to left center. Luis Castillo sacrificed him to third then Lilly walked Daniel Murphy to end his afternoon.
Kevin Gregg replaced Lilly and struck out Jeff Francoeur for the second out. Fernando Tatis then launched a ball to left that initially looked like another ‘Gregg Gopher Ball‘ but it stayed in the park and Soriano even got a glove on it near the ivy … but he could not catch the final out. Pagan scored the go ahead run easily but Daniel Murphy was cut down at the plate to end the inning.
Starting the weekend with a win is always a good thing … especially against the New York Mets, just ask Ron Santo.
Ryan Dempster is slated to face Bobby Parnell on Saturday afternoon.