Both teams are coming off losses. The Cubs had a split decision in Cincinnati yesterday, while the Sox, well, let's just say at least no blood was shed in that ugly loss to the Red Sox.
We'll have baseball soon for those of you stuck at work like us. Hopefully, this play by play will be of some help.
Lefty Shawn Estes takes the hill for the Cubs; former Cubs first-round draft pick Jon Garland for the Sox. Not to bring up painful memories for Cubs fans, but it has to be said: Jon Garland for Matt Karchner, who's probably cutting Ed Lynch's lawn at this moment.
The Messmers sing a fine rendition of the anthem and it looks like the wind is blowing in gently from center field. Let's get this going. And not one word on David Beckham's move to Real Madrid.
Tony Graffanino leads off for the Sox and Estes starts him with a called strike. Graffanino grounds to Alex Gonzalez for the first out. And here's the president of the South Side Sammy Sosa Fan Club, Jose Valentin. Valentin draws a walk and the rejuvenated Frank Thomas digs in. Speaking of Beckham, Estes' sweeping curveball would make the English one-footed wonder proud. Unfortunately he can't spot it. Thomas walks and it's Magglio Ordonez's turn. Maggs drops a single into left-center, driving in Valentin. Thomas loafs to second. First and second for Cubs killer Carlos Lee. He's hitting .404 lifetime at Wrigley. With apologies to Hawk Harrelson, mercy. Estes can't find the plate at all. The count goes full. Lee pops one behind first and Eric Karros, stepping gingerly over the bullpen, makes an over-the-shoulder catch and quickly throws to third.
This inning is taking so long, I have to start a new paragraph. Estes throws two straight balls to third baseman Joe Crede, but comes back to even the count. Sometimes you get the feeling if Estes weren't left-handed, he'd be selling peanuts. Ball four to Crede looked like a ceremonial first pitch. The bases are loaded for Aaron Rowand and the count goes full. Ball four. Everyone move up one base. The Cubs' bullpen stirs and Todd Wellemeyer readies for some serious long relief. Estes throws a called strike to catcher Miguel Olivo prompting sarcastic cheers. Grand slam. You could see that driving up Waveland. Guy can't find the plate at all, so eventually he's going to groove one. Big-time meatball. And Estes still can't find the plate. 51 pitches and counting. The 52nd pitch is a slow roller to Grudzielanek and Estes exits to much booing. He might as well walk straight to his car in the parking lot.
Sox 6, Cubs 0
Whew. OK, let's see: fifty-two pitches, four walks, one grand slam.
So, Jon Garland starts with a comfortable lead and Grudzielanek grounds out on the second pitch. The Cubs get one back on a big fly by Alex Gonzalez that got out in a hurry. Patterson hits one on the ground that's eaten up by the US Open rough and he's thrown out easily. Sosa steps in and the Sox fans in attendance let him have it. Garland wants no part of Sosa and walks him. Alou lines out to Lee in left.
Sox 6, Cubs 1
There's no possible way Estes comes out for the second inning. One could argue you could yank him on pitch count alone. Wellemeyer picks right up where Estes left off, throwing three straight balls well out of the strikezone. Graffanino flies out to Sosa, who makes it interesting fighting the sun out there in right. Wellemeyer blows it by Valentin and the Cubs are appealing for a mulligan on the first inning. Thomas rips one down the left-field line for a double. This dude is really hitting now. Ordonez walks and Cubs fan readers are angry about Estes. While Sox fans are miffed they have to listen to Chip Carey. Lee rips one to center and Corey Patterson misplays it and it gets by him, scoring Thomas and Ordonez. So much for all that talk about a Gold Glove. Wellemeyer retires Crede to end the inning.
Sox 8, Cubs 1
Karros pops to his counterpart at first. Ramon Martinez rips one back through the box for a single and Damian Miller strokes one to right. First and second. Wellemeyer squares to punt and pops out to third. The ball gets away from Olivio and the runners advance. The G-Man walks to load the bases for Gonzalez and Sox pitching coach John Cooper pays Garland a visit on the mound. Garland goes full on Gonzalez before striking him out.
A friend writes in to tell me he'll buy me dinner at Gibson's if the Cubs score eight runs all weekend. I'm not exactly reaching for the phone to make reservations. Wellemeyer fans Rowand on some high heat. Olivo walks and the dinner offer already has been down-graded to Cambridge House. Weak! Though, great milk shakes at the House. Garland sacrifices Olivo. Graffanino flies out to Alou. Hey, fuggedaboutit. Inning over.