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View From the Hill-Top
by Derek Smart
It looked iffy for a bit there, but once the Giants' bullpen shenanigans got in full swing, it seemed like only a matter of time before the Cubs got the job done, and they did in the bottom of the ninth on an excellent slide by Ronnie Cedeno. Nothing like taking a well-pitched, fairly well-played game and dipping it in a vat of pure chaos, so enough intro, and on to the lead-based fun!
It was a solid enough outing for Rich Hill, and I imagine it was good enough to earn him another start. That curveball is flat-out cruel, and when he throws it for strikes, one can see why he's still leading the Southern League in strikeouts, despite not having pitched there since the end of May.
He still needs to do a better job of spotting his fastball, keeping it both down and away from the hitters, as it's simply not a good enough pitch to get away with in the fat part of the zone, having neither enough velocity or enough movement to keep it from getting hit hard.
That said, his curve is probably good enough to get him through his first time facing most teams with minimal damage, so he may be good to go for this last stretch of the season (that is, if he can stay off the basepaths). In any case, it'll be interesting to see what, if anything, Jim Hendry does in the next week now that he's got another potential hole to fill.
I have to admit, I felt a degree of edification on seeing Moises Alou up to his old petulant tricks, barking at umpire's strike calls, and generally looking incredibly immature. I appreciated all he did for us while he was a Cub, but my goodness, I don't miss that behavior a bit.
If Tony LaRussa took speed, smoked crack, and snorted cocaine, all while hooked up to a coffee I.V. laced with crushed No-Doze tablets as he was simultaneously engaged in a mind-meld with both Jim Bowden and Dan O'Dowd, he still wouldn't be able to match the frenetic and sublimely ridiculous pace of complex pitching and lineup changes that Felipe Alou went through in the bottom of the eighth.
It was the ultimate in sound and fury signifying nothing, as the five men he brought in to get three outs still couldn't keep the lead safe. There were a couple of beautiful quotes on this fiasco. First, from Alou:
"I brought in guys according to the ballpark. I tried to stay away from the bombs, and we did stay away from them," Alou said.
Translation: "Mission accomplished, and we won the game. Oh, wait."
Now, for Jason Schmidt's take:
"If I had known it would have taken that many guys in the eighth, I would have stayed out there and tried to do it," Schmidt said. "Then we could have used just one guy in the ninth. Shoot, what are you going to do? That's baseball."
"A very strange inning. I figured Hawkins could be lights out the whole inning," Schmidt said. "Before you know it, it seemed like everybody was out there. That's part of playing in Frisco."
Translation: "My manager is a nutbar. Shhhhh! He'll hear you!"
I haven't watched any Giants baseball this year so I have no idea if this sort of "strategy" is a regular occurrence, but if it is, I think the senior Alou might be over the proverbial barrel.
I just feel bad for LaTroy Hawkins. He deserves better.
If I didn't know any better, I'd say that Neifi! is intentionally waiting for the time when the one hit the Cosmos allows him per game will be most effective. At least, that's what it seems like the last two days, as in both games, Our Boy has held out until his final at bat to get his lone ding of the day, and each time it's been a game saver or winner.
His single that brought home the tying run last night off the first pitch he saw from Tyler "Dear God, Won't Armando Hurry Up and Heal Already" Walker actually looked like a better swing than the one he put on his Grande Salami on Sunday. Either way, I'll take these final bursts of usefulness before Nomar makes his return.
The questions tonight will be which Greg Maddux shows up, and will the Cubs be able to figure out Noah Lowry. The Master of the Flood mastered the Cubs in the only time he faced them last year, so hopefully some lessons were learned in the interim.