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One Could Get Used To This
by Derek Smart
Time is short this morning, so in the interest of brevity: Lighting Round!
The Savior is now 8 for his last 8, and has reached base in each of his last 10 plate appearances. I've run out of adjectives.
It was easy to see how Petco depresses home runs, as two first inning blasts, one from Aramis Ramirez and one from Phil Nevin, were corralled by the spacious dimensions. Then Todd Walker came up in the sixth, said, "This is how you do it boys," and launched a solo shot to the deepest part of the yard. I like Jerry Hairston, but boy it's nice to have Sir Scruffy back.
Mr. Glendon took full advantage of the ballpark's tendencies, posting a 6/14 groundball to flyball ratio on the night: before the game, it was 54/51. Have the Cubs ever made a better scrap-heap signing?
It wasn't the best defensive play I've ever seen, but the sixth inning Rusch to Lee retirement of Dave Roberts was one of the most fun to watch develop. Nice bunt in a tough spot, super fast runner sprinting up the line, Rusch hustles to the ball, scoops and tosses with his glove hand in one motion, and Lee picks it off the ground with his bare hand while finding the bag with his foot. It was wacky, it was exciting, it was backwards, and thank goodness, it was an out.
The ninth saw another nice play by Rusch (it was his night, after all), as he stabbed a line shot up the middle by sticking his glove behind his back. Lovely as it was, though, it's another object lesson in how great plays that get oohs and ahhs are often because the player made them harder than they had to be.
In his delivery, Rusch falls off the mound to his right. He's not in horrible position, but he's off to one side, and it's this follow-through that made the behind-the-back aspect of the play necessary. Had it been, say, Greg Maddux on the hill, you would have seen the same result, but more likely because The Professor would have casually flipped his glove open by his left hip and received the pill like he was having a catch.
I don't mean to denigrate the fine play Rusch made - it was a lovely feat of hand-eye coordination and athleticism - but the necessity for a play on that ball to be spectacular had everything to do with how he gets ready to field. It just shows that there's more to being a good defender than skills with the glove - understanding where to be and how to be ready is at least as important.
This seven game string of sweet, sweet victory is the longest for the club since winning twelve straight from May 19 to June 2 of 2001. Whoever wants to beat that, raise your hand.
If there's a game in this series that looks ripe to lose, it's tonight's, as Sergio Mitre takes the bump against Adam Eaton. The good news is, if Mitre can't keep the ball down as he couldn't in his last outing, there's a decent chance the park will swallow it. That, or there will be a series of Padre triples like the world has never seen.
The Cubs are now guaranteed to be over .500 at the end of this trip, and had you offered me that before Monday night, I would have jumped at it like a crack-addled frog. As it is, after all the trouble this season has been, I've become terribly greedy, and I want all the time-compressed joy I can get. So let's go get 'em!