Baseball Toaster Cub Town
LiveBlog - Cubs vs. Nats
2005-07-01 10:22
by Derek Smart

It's short notice, but since I don't have much to say about yesterday's game and I'm home today anyway, I figured I'd blog this afternoon's contest. It should be a good matchup, with Prior facing Livan Hernandez, so come on back once the game has started and join in!

Top of the 1st

  • Prior's got the easy cheese going today, blowing away Brad Wilkerson and Junior Spivey with fastballs on the outside corner. Of course, he was able to get Wilkerson because he got around too fast on the ball Prior threw him down the middle on 1-2 - a lucky break to say the least.

  • The luck runs out when Prior throws a heater right down the pike to Jose Guillen. He just crushed it, as a Major League hitter should do. The Franchise got it back together for Vinnie Castilla - whiffing him to strike out the side - but with Livan Hernandez up for the Nats, that mistake could be costly.

    Cubs 0, Nats 1

    Bottom of the 1st

  • I hope Prior gets the call that Hernandez did on his 2-1 pitch to Corey Patterson. It was a good breaking ball, but low and inside if ever I've seen such a thing. That's the sort of call you hate to see Patterson be a victim of. It's not like he needs the encouragement to swing.

  • Soft hit balls by Neifi! and Lee finish out the frame. This could shape up to be a very frustrating afternoon.

    Cubs 0, Nats 1

    Top of the 2nd

  • I keep forgetting Wil Cordero is still in baseball. He's only 33, but he's got 14 years of MLB experience! Yikes!

  • You can't fault Prior on the double to Schneider, as he simply yanked the thing off his shoetops and up the first base line. A nice piece of hitting. Tip your cap. The thing you can fault him for is the straight fastball, up in the zone, and right down the middle that he threw to Jamey Carroll for his RBI single. Carroll isn't much of a hitter, but even guys like him can get at a ball like that.

    Cubs 0, Nats 2

    Bottom of the 2nd

  • Nice at bat by Todd Walker. Hernandez tried to get him to go fishing multiple times, throwing balls just off both the inside and outside of the plate, but Todd wasn't having it and took his free base. It puts men on first and second with no one out, and should give us an idea of whether this will be a good day or not - score at least one, and you've got a shot, but blow this chance, and things look awfully grim.

  • And there's the double play from Hollandsworth, right on cue. I'm reaching for my air sickness bag as I type this.

  • When Jose Macias is justifiably hitting seventh, I think it's a sign of the Apocalypse. He grounds harmlessly to second, finishing off what looked like a promising inning. Going scoreless after getting men on first and second with no outs = hosed.

    Cubs 0, Nats 2

  • Prior took the breaking ball out of its packaging this inning, and too great effect. Note that he started Guillen with it this time around, albeit out of the zone low. He got Guillen to go well out on his front foot 2-1, which allowed him to bust a fastball inside on the next pitch that Guillen had no chance to get his hands in for. That's some nice work, folks.

    Cubs 0, Nats 2

    Bottom of the 3rd

  • Blanco with a clean single up the middle to lead off the inning. I type this after my wife applied smelling salts.

  • Despite striking out, Patterson's at bat wasn't so bad. He took the first pitch for a strike, and rightly so, as it was a ball up and on the inside corner that he would have almost no chance to put in play in a positive way. The second ball he fouled off - a decent pitch to hit that he simply missed. Then for strike three, a ball that started heading toward his knee and, if you're feeling extra generous, wound up over the inside corner for a "strike". It was a rough at bat, and one I hope he doesn't take to heart.

  • Most of the time you'll send a guy home from second on a fairly soft single up the middle, but with The Sloth on the paths, a fine, quick throw from Wilkerson, and Derrek Lee on deck, holding the runner at third was the right play, even if it didn't work out in the end.

    Cubs 0, Nats 2

    Top of the 4th

  • Lousy pitch to Marlon Byrd on 0-2. Fastballs shouldn't be thrown in hittable spots when the hitter is down so far in the count. There's no need for a strike there, so coming that close is simply inexcusable.

  • It winds up costing Prior when *ugh* Jamey Carroll actually puts a very nice pitch into the outfield for another RBI single. Making mistakes like the one to Byrd take out the margin of error later in the inning - you have to figure that guys are going to hit your good pitches sometimes, so coughing that type of hit makes it that much more likely that the good plays the opposition makes actually hurt.

  • Prior's pitch count is getting well up there, at least when taking into account how far he's likely to be allowed to go today. Contrary to his last start, I wouldn't be surprised to see Prior done at the end of five.

    Cubs 0, Nats 3

    Bottom of the 4th

  • Hernandez threw what looked an awful lot like an eephus pitch to Jeromy Burnitz, just like his half-brother will do on occasion. It started at Jeromy's head and looked like it was headed for the dirt, all at the blazing speed of 60 mph. Burnitz popped it up to first, and the only thing I kept thinking as I watched Cordero camp under it was, "What the hell did he think that thing was?"

    Cubs 0, Nats 3

    Top of the 5th

  • They showed some footage of Nomar taking fielding practice before the game, moving laterally and picking up grounders. He looked very careful out there, but my goodness, the fact that he's moving at all is a sight for sore eyes. He's supposed to start hitting the ball soon, so keep your fingers crossed, and maybe we'll get to see number 5 on the field again in time to have an impact.

  • Prior did a nice job of setting guys up this inning, managing to avoid the mistakes in the zone that led to all his runs, striking out the side in what looks like his last inning of work today. Too bad he couldn't do that more consistently earlier in the game, but even then, the Cubs would still need to score.

    Cubs 0, Nats 3

    Bottom of the 5th

  • Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the thing that will make Corey Patterson an above average Major League hitter, if he will let it. If he can learn to bunt well and manage to use it in appropriate situations, he'll set up opposing fielders to give him more hits when he swings away. Of course, we've seen this before and nothing has come of it, so color me dubious until some consistency is introduced into the picture.

    Cubs 0, Nats 3

    Top of the 6th

  • Not that it's hard to do, but Glendon Rusch sure made Vinnie Castilla look bad striking out. After throwing three straight fastballs he broke off a big curveball that Castilla nearly swung at twice. That's how you set 'em up, boys. Nicely done.

  • Rusch has seemed less comfortable out of the bullpen than when he's started, both this year and last, so it's nice to see him enter the game and get the job done with relative ease - two-out singles notwithstanding. The Cubs definitely need him to be able to work well in relief, since so much of the rest of the pen has been highly inconsistent this season.

    Cubs 0, Nats 3

    Bottom of the 6th

  • Derrek Lee does it again, unfortunately with no one on base. It's an example of what we can look forward to for the next month or two, as the National League stops throwing him balls inside altogether, and Derrek adjusts by driving the ball to right. This one was far from a no doubter, but perhaps all the more impressive because of it - must be nice to be able to get under a ball a decent amount and still send it out.

  • Zap! There goes a shot off the bat of Todd Hollandsworth, hit so hard I doubt it dropped more than a foot or two from the top of its arc. Hyperbole, I know, but he drilled it. Again, too bad no one was on base, and even more importantly, too bad that Prior was somehow unable to retire Jamey Carroll.

    Cubs 2, Nats 3

    Top of the 7th

  • Between innings they promoted the broadcast of the upcoming series against the Braves. Am I the only one who finds the insistence on referring to the largest city in Georgia as "Hot-lanta" deeply, deeply annoying? Can't wait for that road trip to Frisco.

  • When you start to pull close to the opposition after spending the whole game lagging behind, there's little that's worse than giving back some of what you got in their very next turn. It looked like the Cubs might be able to avoid that ignominious fate after Rusch got Junior Spivey to ground out to short with Wilkerson on third and only one out.

    Then in comes Roberto Novoa - the human coin toss - and after walking Jose Guillen, lost a fastball inside to Vinnie Castilla - a man who would give back half his salary if he could see one of those per at bat - for an RBI single. Novoa shakily limited the damage to one run, but this is not a day when such failures can easily be tossed aside.

    Cubs 2, Nats 4

    Bottom of the 7th

  • This is the third time today Henry Blanco has led off an inning. That's like starting three straight days by falling out of bed onto a field of upturned nails.

  • Corey Patterson hits a triple to center, and it's the hardest ball I've seen off his bat in a long time - harder perhaps than his homer against the White Sox on Sunday. Neifi! couldn't get him in with two out, but it's still encouraging to see Corey get a hold of a ball that well, while having bunted earlier in the game.

    Cubs 2, Nats 4

    Top of the 8th

  • Another unsightly, but thankfully, uneventful inning for Novoa. As much as we could see during his work on Saturday why teams would keep him around, today's frustrating inconsistency is a point in the other direction. Taking 44 pitches to get four outs isn't the sort of thing that recommends you for further duty.

    Cubs 2, Nats 4

    Bottom of the 8th

  • This is a lousy team to be down to late, particularly with Hernandez pitching. Not only do you have to work like crazy to get him out of the game, but then you've got to face what's been one of the best bullpens in the National League this year. If you want a reason why this team has done so well despite some pretty obvious holes, look no farther than that corps of relievers.

  • Maybe a little luck for the Cubs, as Jose Guillen plays Derrek Lee's easy fly-out into a sun-aided triple. Keep your fingers crossed.

  • What was once a homer by Burnitz was called foul (I couldn't even see the ball on TV), but instead of sitting around and crying Jeromy lines a double up the third base line. Work, mojo, work.

  • A horrible, horrible play for Jeromy Burnitz, getting picked off at third with one out. Kudos to Brian Schneider on the throw, but Burnitz should have never been in position to get pegged like that in the first place. Just inexcusable.

  • Ramirez came in to pinch hit - exactly the right time to use him, by the way - but nothing came of it. It's a shame, between the barely missed home run (a replay just showed it was clearly foul) and the extraordinarily bad baserunning play, this was a game that likely should have been tied. Assuming this one goes down as a loss, it's sure gonna sting.

    Cubs 3, Nats 4

    Top of the 9th

  • Sergio Mitre got two men, but didn't look great doing it, giving up a single and a walk in the process. I have a bad feeling that, much as I might wish it otherwise, he simply isn't going to work out as a reliever - or a starter, for that matter. Cub fans had best hope he helps the team get another bat in trade before the deadline, because I honestly think he's going to wind up being a tweener - too good for AAA, just not good enough for consistent exposure in the Majors.

  • Brian Schneider hit himself in the head with his stick while preparing to face Ryan Dempster. The man doesn't have the bat control to refrain from socking his noggin, but he still goes 3 for 5 on the day. Phthtttttttt, I say!

    Cubs 3, Nats 4

    Bottom of the 9th

  • It's Hector Carrasco instead of Chad Cordero, since he's thrown a ton lately. Perhaps a break?

  • If the strikeouts of Barrett and Cedeno are any indication, the answer is no. The pitch that got Cedeno looking was a little low, but it was close enough he should have been swinging. It's now up to Corey Patterson.

  • An easy grounder ends it, and that's the bitter taste of defeat that's in your mouth, friends.

    Cubs 3, Nats 4

    The inability of the Cubs to retire the bottom of the Nats order was what really sealed the deal today, along with the inexcusable basepath blunder by Burnitz (ooooh! alliteration is fun!). Better luck tomorrow, boys, and hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday weekend.

  • Comments
    2005-07-01 12:11:13
    1.   Lefty
    The Cubs everyday lineup is a perpetual second game of a doubleheader.
    2005-07-01 12:34:11
    2.   Eric S
    Quick glance at a sportscenter factoid this morning, Prior's lifetime ERA in July is not so hot ... too bad the trend continues.
    2005-07-01 13:43:51
    3.   chicagoburke
    bottom 8...we need to get back now or it is trouble time when they bring in their closer...good part is he has pitched in something like 5 of the last 6 games...

    Keep the fingers crossed...maybe a Ramirez pinch hitting appearance?

    2005-07-01 13:45:13
    4.   chicagoburke
    Nothing like some good ole' fashion Wrigley Day game sun to get us going!
    2005-07-01 13:49:22
    5.   chicagoburke
    I think if you can't really tell, you've gotta leave the original do they call it in Football - indesputable evidence?
    2005-07-01 13:51:06
    6.   chicagoburke
    Was that Alou on third?
    2005-07-01 14:14:25
    7.   rynox
    Not that I'm complaining, but where's Cordero?
    2005-07-01 14:30:43
    8.   Todd S
    Derek, just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed this blog entry. I was flipping between it and Gameday (and the spreadsheets I was supposed to be working on this afternoon).

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