Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
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The Miracle Elixir
by Derek Smart
Last night was a soothing balm for what ails a fella. It was the first game after the last game of interleague play - which is, for me, always the most surreal and ridiculously stressful point of the season - it was a contest taking place in one of the most beautiful settings in baseball, and it was, after a week-long period of exceedingly poor play, a rock solid game for the Cubs from top to bottom, and on the road to boot.
If there was one blemish on the face of fun, it was the horror of the West Coast Start Time, which leads poor souls in later time-zones down a bleary-eyed path from which those of us over the age of 30 will likely not recover for a series of weeks. Even ditching the game early, as I did, results in a failure to retain useful consciousness for days on end.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I made the ultimate rookie mistake - staying up late enough to feel the pain of my actions, without actually getting through the entire game. There's a point of no return that I had clearly passed well before I abandoned watching after the top of the seventh, but the constant nodding of my head and the day's early wake-up call - my daughter rose at 5:15 yesterday, having slept straight through the night after conking out in the car 12 hours earlier - made it all seem like a good idea at the time. Therefore, I missed what was essentially the fun of piling on when Mark DeRose hit his second bomb of the night.
What I didn't miss was a great all-around game by the team, and the bit of wipe-my-brow relief that the Cubs didn't make a full-throated pursuit of Barry Zito two winters ago. I'd anticipated being able to handle him ably, considering this year's blissfully realized patience, but I have a hard time seeing any team failing to take the free passes he was offering.
If it wasn't clear enough from his performance what a mess he is, his demeanor on the mound would tell the entire tale. I'd have to confirm with an A's fan, but my impression of Zito has never been of a visibly frustrated, at his wit's end individual, but he was that in spades all night long, and justifiably so. He clearly hasn't a clue how to fix his issues, and while I haven't seen him pitch often, the strain looks to be showing in a big way.
But that's all to the good for us in the blue and red. Now we just need a little good work from the offense against Matt Cain - who's likely to be a damn sight better than last night's draw - along with something resembling usefulness from Jason Marquis, and we'll have a clenched split on our hands. I'll take that baby step in a heartbeat.