A League of Her Own

Saturday Headlines

Lou Piniella Manager of the Chicago Cubs

Big Z returned last night and must've taken his crazy pills. He pitched well and hit a home run, leading the Cubs to a 2-1 victory over the Reds.

Once again the bullpen flirted with disaster after Zambrano threw 62/3 innings of shutout ball, allowing just 2 hits with 5 walks while striking out seven. The victory moved the 27-25 Cubs into a virtual tie with the 28-26 Reds for third place.

Zambrano's home run was unusual, even for him.

After striking out on 3 pitches in his first at-bat while hitting from the left side against Reds right-hander Micah Owings (3-7), the switch-hitting Zambrano appeared to tweak his shoulder.

So he moved to the right side for his second trip to the plate and dropped a 400-foot bomb to center field for a 2-0 lead in the fifth.

Then the bullpen decided to make it interesting:

Then it got interesting. As is his custom, Carlos Marmol walked the leadoff hitter to start the eighth and allowed a triple to Brandon Phillips, whose roller in the gap got underneath the outstretched glove of Alfonso Soriano and banked off the wall, for the Reds' only run. Marmol wiggled off the hook after walking another hitter.

In the ninth, closer Kevin Gregg retired the first two hitters before a single by pinch hitter Ryan Hanigan. Gregg then struck out Jerry Hairston on a breaking ball in the dirt that escaped catcher Koyie Hill, allowing Hairston to reach first and pinch runner Juan Castillo to get to third.

But Gregg got Chris Dickerson on a popup to third baseman Mike Fontenot for his 10th save.

But the crazy pill must've worn off after the game:

'I feel proud,'' Zambrano said of earning his 100th career victory to become the fourth Cub to do that in the last 50 years (Ferguson Jenkins, Rick Reuschel and Greg Maddux), a few minutes before saying he plans to retire when his contract is up in 2012 (or 2013 if the option vests). ''Especially after what happened my last start. I was really disappointed and really down about what happened. And today it's happiness for myself, and for the team, also.''

Zambrano hasn't talked about the charter flight he skipped without permission Monday. After the game he said it was ''bad'' to have written about it, chiding a beat writer for airing something he said was ''between me and the team.''

Jake Fox might start in right today - I guess they figure he can't be much worse than Hoffpauir (who actually made a good catch again Friday):

Jake Fox may get his first start Saturday, playing in right field against rookie left-hander Matt Maloney.

"Our problem here is that in the areas he plays, we have more depth than anywhere else," manager Lou Piniella said. "There's a possibility I'll just put him out there in right field."

Fox has three hits in seven at-bats after tearing up Triple-A pitching. He probably will be the Cubs DH when they play road series against the White Sox and Detroit later this month.

"Look, he deserves a chance to play up here," Piniella said. "It's just a question of whether the team is put together the right way to utilize his skills. We get into interleague play a little, assuming he's still here, we can put him in the DH spot. We like Jake."

And expect to see Geovany Soto back in the lineup today:

Struggling sophomore catcher Geovany Soto sat out of the lineup for a third straight day, but Piniella said he plans to get the .209-hitting former Rookie of the Year into tonight's lineup against Reds rookie left-hander Matt Maloney.

''Sometimes it's good for a young player to get a few days to get the cobwebs out,'' Piniella said. ''I appreciated that as a young player. You don't like it at the time, but you realize it can help.''

Soto sought out Piniella Thursday in Atlanta for a pregame talk about his status.



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Umbra said:


I wasn't that impressed by Hoffpauir's catch. It was a play that Fukudome would have made last year and no one would bat an eyelash. This team cannot play defense for some reason.

abe frohman said:


I like to see this:
Jake Fox might start in right today - I guess they figure he can't be much worse than Hoffpauir (who actually made a good catch again Friday)
Fox does deserve a chance up here. And that catch by Hoffpauir was not exactly a good catch. It was more less-of-a-butchery-than-we're-used-to-seeing. I'm not necessarily saying I would have made that catch (or Jake Fox would), but a real right fielder would have handled that as a routine play and nobody would have even noticed.

Pitching wins championships. Period.

millertime said:


So, here's a crazy thoguht: Can we move Guzman into the closer's role, at least until he sucks enough to lose his job? Or is he more valuable pitching where he is? I don't know if he'll keep pitching as well as he has this year, but at moment he's our best relief pitcher.

Kurt Evans said:


Now THIS is the way to write articles recapping other articles. I just wasted three hours of my life doing the same thing.

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