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Of Bombs And Blunders
by Derek Smart
Congratulations to Jerome Williams on a very nice outing, one marred only by the inability to understand in consecutive turns at bat that Bill Hall isn't a guy you throw a straight fastball to down and in (by the way, when looking at Hall, does anyone else see Shawon Dunston without the Howitzer?).
It would be going too far to say that one turn on its own makes the Hawkins trade a win for the Cubs, but considering that poor LaTroy is now on the DL and was pummelled spectacularly while in a Giant uniform, it's sure a step in the right direction. Here's to seeing some more big steps down that same road.
I like being on the right side of blowouts as much as the next guy, but I've reached the point where a run of good, solid pitching, and good, timely hitting, with games that end 4-2 or thereabouts would be an extremely welcome sight.
Wow. Ask and ye shall receive, indeed.
With Mark Prior looking like he could go on Sunday (Hooray!), and Kerry Wood on the verge of returning himself, the Cubs are looking at a very interesting set of decisions, especially considering the fine work they got out of Williams last night.
I suppose a separate post will have to be dedicated to this subject soon, but if one is inclined to count Sergio Mitre among a group of "legitimate starters" (I'm still a bit reluctant myself, but I'm not sure the club shares my trepidation), within the space of about a week and a half, the Cubs are going to have seven of them to choose from.
That's a hell of a good problem to have, so I'm not complaining - just curious to see who stays, who goes, and who, if anyone, shifts to the pen. Let the speculation begin!
One of my best friends is a lifelong A's fan, and in discussing the Oakland teams of the early Billy Beane era - the ones with high-OBP and power numbers - we started referring to the offensive strategy they employed as the "Walk and Sock" method.
Which begs the question: what do you call what the Cubs did last night? In the seventh inning there was an error, then a homer, then another error, then another homer, so I think there has to be a good name for that "strategy" somewhere. Is it the "Flub and Club?" The "Drop and Pop?" Perhaps even the "Clank and Crank?"
Whatever the term, it worked like a charm last night, as the Crew made mistakes in front of the exact wrong guys, assuming, of course, that their intent was to win. Santos seemed genuinely flustered by the miscues behind him, and as a result, missed badly with two pitches to two men you'd best not miss badly to.
I came to the conclusion last night that I'm not entirely unbiased (Shock! Surprise!). When Derrek Lee tried to tag up and move from first to second on the Jeromy Burnitz flyout to center in the fourth, my initial reaction was, "Gee, that's too bad. It was a good idea, though."
The truth is, I think it was a good idea - Brady Clark doesn't throw particularly well, the ball was deep, he was back on his heels, and there were two out in the inning, so trying to go to second isn't a terrible risk when all those things are considered.
The problem is, I realized that if I saw someone I think less of - say, oh, I don't know...Jose Macias - try the same thing and get thrown out, I'd immediately start spouting off about how he was an idiot and a jackass, and doesn't he know any better than to try a stunt like that. I'd like to think I could see the play for what it was - a good idea that simply didn't work - but I'm far too human to not be influenced by the number on the uniform.
Jeff Cirillo's going to be happy when Ryan Dempster's out of town. Nothing like being the last out in a tight game to the same pitcher two nights in a row to make you wish a fella would just get gone.
It's another guy who seems to own the Cubs going for Milwaukee tonight, as Doug Davis takes the bump against the recently control-challenged Carlos Zambrano. The Fuzzy Bears really need another strong start tonight, as Davis is exactly the type of junk-baller who gives Cub hitters fits. Besides, it would clinch a series victory heading into tomorrow afternoon, and I'm all for that sort of thing.