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Playing Catch Up
by Phil Bencomo
I'll be the first to admit it: I hardly watched any baseball last week thanks to a really busy schedule. Really, the only thing I did keep up with was the scores. Shamefully, I didn't even know Felix Pie had been sent down until yesterday afternoon.
So, for my sake, here's a brief week in review, ripped from the headlines and boxscores:
Tuesday: Ted Lilly was excellent again, with seven innings of two-run ball, but Ryan Dempster couldn't hold the Pirates (the Pirates!) scoreless in the ninth, and the game went to extras. Neil Cotts picked a terrible time to give up his first run of the year, and the Cubs lost in 15 innings, 4-3. Rather ironically, the Daily Herald ran an article titled "Cubs' closer Dempster rebounding from nightmarish 2006 season" that very day. It's a cruel, cruel world, folks.
Wednesday: Jason Marquis threw a 109-pitch complete-game shutout. Alfonso Soriano homered to lead off the Cub first, and that was that. But I – curse you, busy schedule! – didn't see a single pitch. Marquis continues to dominate, much to my disbelief, and Hendry's much-lambasted deal is paying big dividends.
Thursday: Felix Pie was sent back to Triple-A to "learn the strike zone." Simply put, Pie isn't ready for the majors. I said it over the winter, and I said it during the spring: Pie needs more time. At the Cubs Convention, Mike Quade, Pie's manager last season, also made it clear that Pie still has problems to work out; "Raw" was the word he used. Letting Pie get regular at-bats in the minors is the right move.
Meanwhile, Carlos Zambrano had another tough outing, and he wasn't helped by Matt Murton's outfield gaffe. But the coaching staff thinks they've discovered Zambrano's problem: mechanics. But even with the loss, the Cubs remained in good shape with a .500 record. I wouldn't have complained.
Friday: But then the Cubs went to Philly. Rich Hill got roughed up for just the second time this season, but even so, five innings and five earned runs is hardly unbearable. Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez each hit solo home runs, the only scoring the Cubs would manage in a 7-2 loss that dropped the team under .500.
Saturday: Yesterday's game, one I again didn't see, just sounds pretty painful. The Cubs entered the seventh inning down four runs, but scored six to go up by two. The bottom half of the inning was going quite smoothly, until Aaron Rowand singled with two outs to start a Philadelphia six-run rally. The Phillies would win 11-7. I hate to say it, but that was one game I'm glad I missed. And yes, Bob, you really did stink.
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Oh yeah, I almost forgot: Happy Mother's Day, Mom!