Monday, August 15, 2005

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

I went to my first Cubs game since June 2003 last night as the Cubs beat the Cardinals, 5-4. This was one of the best games I've seen at Wrigley Field. Mark Prior improved his record to 8-4 with six masterful innings of work. Cardinals catcher Mike Mahoney hit his first career home run in the second. Cubs center-fielder Corey Patterson gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead with a two-run homer in the third, his first since returning from a minor league assignment Aug. 9. Cubs left-fielder Matt Lawton hit a solo shot in the 5th inning. Cubs SS Nomar Garciaparra and 2B Todd Walker each got three hits, Kerry Wood and Prior both pitched in the same game for the first time ever, and the Cubs got two pinch hits, including a two-run single by Jose Macias in the bottom of the sixth inning that put the Cubs up for good, 5-3. Also, Cardinals pitcher Matt Morris got nailed by a line drive off the bat of Jeromy Burnitz, Garciaparra had a rare trhowing error and National League batting average leader Derrek Lee had a home run called back and ruled foul after he'd rounded the bases. Cubs closer Ryan Dempster had the Wrigley faithful wriggling in their seats as he typically had control problems and allowed a run in the ninth inning, bringing Albert Pujols, the Cardinals home run leader, to the plate representing the go-ahead run with the tying run at second base. Pujols grounded to second to end the game.
I sat in the upper deck right field side, about four rows up from the railing looking over the lower grandstand. Great seats! The sunset affected my view of the game for the first couple innings, but I enjoyed watching the Friendly Confines aglow in the gloaming. I sat with my father, Frank, wife Esther, brother Ken, his friend from France, Cyane, who had never seen a baseball game before, and his friend Tim. Some new things I noticed about Wrigley Field: The electronic ticker below the manual scoreboard is in color. Also, there are color announcement boards along the upper deck railings that announce the score, inning, at-bat, balls and strikes and, much to my interest, miles-per-hour of each pitch.
Still, the Cubs are four games below .500 at 57-61 and have what can only be called glimmering playoff hopes, despite taking 3-of-4 from the Cardinals over the weekend. Too bad they couldn't show such competitive fire during their 8-game losing streak. The last time I saw the Cubs play, June 26, 2003, Mark Prior struck out 16, but did not win as Cubs closer Joe Borowski gave up a three-run home run to Geoff Jenkins and the Milwaukee Brewers won, 5-3.