The Gist: Game #7

Cubs 10, Pirates 8 in 12 hernia inducing innings at beautiful PNC Park.

What a game. It wasn't pretty. In fact, it was Sam Cassell ugly. But in the end, the Cubs prevail in Pittsburgh's home opener, 10-8, after blowing a early 7-0 lead and benefiting from a mental gaffe by the Pirates in the 9th that allowed the game to go into extra frames.

It's too exhausting and frankly too confusing to recap all the action. Suffice it to say, the Cubs built up a big lead early off an uncharacteristically wild Tom Gorzelanny with some timely hits by (shocker - *sarcasm*) Fukudome and (shocker - *no sarcasm*) Ronny Cedeno. Geovany Soto also had a couple of big ribbies, solidifying his status as the greatest Cubs catcher since Gabby Hartnett.

Unfortunately, our lefty (birth name: Lilly, Theodore) was just as wild as theirs, allowing the Luis Rivas and Chris Gomez-led Buccos right back into the game. Lilly didn't even make it out of the fourth inning, thus doing nothing to discount my pre-season musing that 'Ted Lilly might suck this year'. After the Pirates cut it to 7-5, the Cubs tacked on another run only to allow the Pirates to tie it at 8. Leading the charge was Nate McLouth, the greatest bleach blonde Pirate to suit up since the illustrious Craig 'Thor' Wilson.

Things looked grim, especially after Ryan Doumit led off the ninth with a double. His pinch runner, rookie Brian Bixler was advanced to third on a ground out. After an intentional walk, Jose Bautista somehow takes the initiative to bunt the ball. Not a bad bunt, but apparently no one told Bixler on third. Instead of scoring the winning run, Bixler hesitated before retreating to third and Bautista was tagged out by Lee. Sure, Bixler should have scored, but what is Bautista doing bunting without a signal with only one out, and a rookie on third? Either way, we'll take it. Crisis averted.

Luckily for us the Pirates soon ran out of pitchers and had to throw young Evan Meek to the wolves. Living up to his last name, he proceeded to walk five dudes (including one with the bases loaded) and give up a sac fly for good measure. Cubs go up 10-8 and Marmol comes in to nail it down, as Kerry Wood's beard gets a much needed day off.

This was a game that the Cubs had to win, as blowing a 7-0 lead, exhausting your bullpen and losing in extra frames would have been pretty demoralizing. It wasn't text book, but these are the kind of games that good teams find a way to win.

Of note, Lilly's performance is disconcerting and Carmen Pignatiello was our Evan Meek, walking two guys on 8 pitches. Fukudome (a beast on the basepaths!) continues to impress and by my count, Soriano is only about our 5th best position player. Also, take this to the bank. Reed Johnson will end up with almost double the amount of at bats as Pie at the end of the year. 400-450 AB for the lead singer from Staind and about 250 AB (but lots of pinch running!) for Blueberry Pie.

Tomorrow is an off day. One of those weird 'one game then an off day' things that I'd normally complain about, but after today, it's much needed. To quote Ronny Santo, "Geeeeeeez".

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