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In The Boom Boom Room
by Derek Smart
As first pitch for today's double-header loomed, I was regretting that I wasn't in a position to just take the day off, sit on my couch, and watch six hours of Cub baseball. It took a total of five pitches viewed through the imperfect lens of an internet gamecast to transform my regret to relief.
Alright, to be clear it was the fourth and fifth pitches in particular that made me happy to not be in the equivalent of a baseball immersion tank, the first going over the wall off the bat of cartoonishly consistent Cub killer, Geoff Blum, and the second bouncing off the body of Mark Loretta.
It was shocking to behold, even in my admittedly restrictive electronic view. There it was, a 1-2 count, and while I hadn't seen the pitches themselves, the location provided by the service on my screen led me to believe that we were about to be treated to an afternoon of Good Wood - the guy who buckles knees, shatters bats, and best of all, throws strikes.
Then there it was: Boom! Blum homered to right. Boom! Loretta hit by pitch. The air left the room as if in fear, and as I struggled to breathe again, I realized that not only would Good Wood be missing today's game, but the man taking his place wouldn't even be Bad Kerry. No sir, this game was now in the hands of the pitcher Cub fans dread most: Mad Kerry.
A couple walks, a couple hits, an error, and 37 pitches later the first inning collapse was complete, perhaps halted only by the consecutive hitting incompetence of Jesse Garcia and Jake Peavy. This was the outing of Dusty Baker's nightmares, where his lead pitcher in a double-header spontaneously combusts ahead of a game two starter fresh off the DL and on a restricted pitch-count.
With Peavy on the mound, the game was a total loss before the Cubs even took to bat, but if there's a positive to be taken away, it's that Wood was able to settle down and get through 6.2 innings, allowing Dusty Baker to use his bullpen relatively sparingly, allowing Cliff Bartosh to sink or swim for what remained of the game (he was able to tread water).
It wasn't pretty, but it's over now, and game two is new chance for victory. So keep your fingers crossed folks, and let's hope that The Franchise can be his old self for a few innings, and that the Cubs' bats can come alive and fend off a double-header - and series - sweep.