Cubs/Cardinals. Cardinals/Cubs. This is a series that I've been looking forward to, and dreading at the same time. You all know that Felzz was often at his best for these recaps. And while nobody is really trying to replace the man, I don't want to disgrace myself either. As much as I hate the Cardinals, no matter how Missouri-ish they are, I cannot match Felzz's creativity at describing their fan base. So I'm not going to try. Now that we've got that out of the way, let's talk baseball.
I Should Have No Feeling, 'Cause Feeling is Pain
I am not one to get giddy over athletic events. Let me re-state that. I am not one that should get giddy over athletic events. Or players. Every time I get giddy over something, it comes crashing down around me. Game 6 in 2003, I was so sure that the Cubs were going to win that I exclaimed to my best friend, and tv watching buddy (Monte, our black lab), that "the Cubs are going to the series!" That was in the 7th inning. You know the rest of the story. I've matured (aged) to the point where I've convinced myself not to emotionally invest myself as much in my favorite teams and players. It never works out. College athletes "graduate" and move on, the Cubs trade Dunston to the Pirates, and Derrick May doesn't turn into David Justice. So it might be time to warn you all.
This team is starting to make me feel giddy.
Tell Me Who's That Funky Dude
Kyle Hendricks had a tough start the last time out, but the game was delayed by rain before we had a chance to see if he could right the ship. Tonight he again pitched very well, throwing 6 quality innings. I'm still not sold on him, because I wish that he had that obvious strikeout pitch to turn to when times get tough. The lines continue to read like a dream for a guy that looks more and more that he will be a force in the Cubs' rotation next year. Six innings pitched, two earned runs on just five hits and a walk, while striking out three. I will take that every fifth day and be relatively happy.
I'm a Pig, I'm a Dog, So Excuse Me if I Drool
But who really cares about pitching tonight anyway? The big story was obviously the Javy and Jorge Show (we can decide top billing after a couple more weeks, I think). For all intents and purposes, this game began in the 7th inning, when Jorge Soler led off with a bomb to centerfield. John Jay fooled nobody by jumping up at an "attempt" to catch the thing. It appeared to be a high mistake by Shelby Miller, but also did not look like Jorge got it all. He would have a chance to rectify that later.
As sweet as that morsel was, the 8th inning was like eating a snickers pie. My man, Logan Watkins, led off with a single off of Patfield McCoy Neshek, who had entered the game with ridiculous overall numbers. Coghlan did what he does, and got a late-inning extra base hit to put runners at second and third with nobody out. Then Javy WORKED A COUNT, and punished Neshek with a gapper that would give the Cubs a lead they would never relinquish.
Oh yeah, then two batters later Soler happened. Again. The last time I checked, I believe the concourse beyond the left field bleachers was still an active triage center.
Not to be outdone by his fellow rookies, Arismendy Alcantara went on to hit a solo shot in the 9th. The play of the last three innings more than made up for an otherwise dull offensive performance, and temporarily made most of us forget about another questionable base running performance by Starlin Castro.
The bullpen was lights out again as Regular Ramirez picked up the "W," Stop pitched a scoreless 8th, and Grimm struck out half the Cardinals' roster in the 9th. Must. Control. Enthusiasm.
Three Stars of the Game
#3 - The Bullpen. Seriously, these guys have me fired up. Over the past couple of months, we can't say the offense has carried this team, and with the erratic performances of Jackson, Wood, and even Arrieta a couple of times out, you have to admit that the bullpen has been a catalyst.
#2 - Javier Baez - In the biggest at bat of the game, Javy stayed within himself, worked the count a bit, fouled good pitches off, then delivered a line drive to the gap to drive in two.
#1 - Jorge Soler - So we know he can't keep a slash line of .638/1.545/2.212 for the rest of the season. Can he?
So we get double the pleasure, double the fun tomorrow. I'll be covering back-to-back nights as Gunther and I try to work around Labor Day Weekend festivities.
Please feel free to gush in the comments, and onwards!
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