Monday, April 13, 2009

Delayed gratification

Just like you had to wait a while for this re-cap post, both of our Chicago teams had to wait through long, nerve-wracking 9th innings Sunday before they could collect on wins.

The Sox won the series of the Minnesota Twins Sunday with a 6-1 victory. With Mark Buerhle on the mound, things were moving fast, and he was especially good, wasting none of the energy that it seemed to take for him to get guys out on Opening Day last week. He gave up a homerun earlier, but recorded 15 outs in a row until he was lifted in the 7th inning with the Sox up 3-1. He still looked brilliant as he was nearing 100 pitches, but I'll bet his exit had more to do a desire by the Sox to ease him into a long workload after a problematic spring.

The Twins uncharacteristically recorded 3 errors, one of which led to a Sox run early on, but Jim Thome put the Sox up 3-1 in the 6th with a 2-run HR. In the 7th, Josh Field drove in a run with a single, and Carlos Quentin added a sacrifice fly. In the 8th, Jermaine Dye added a solo HR.

Case closed, you would think, but Clayton Richard started the 9th with 2 BBs and a hit as the game slowed to a near halt. Bobby Jenks came in with the bases loaded and nobody out, but managed to get a ground out and a double play to end it.

The Cubs also had to live through a shaky 9th, again courtesy of new closer Kevin Gregg. The Cubs won 8-5, but entered the 9th winning 8-4. Gregg got the first couple hitters, but with 2 out, he gave up a homerun to Rickie Weeks, who at this point, Gregg should never face again if possible (after a game-tying double on Friday night that led to an eventual Brewers win). After the Weeks HR, Gregg put the next 2 men on, bring the tying run to the plate in the large and dangerous form of Prince Fielder. Gregg pushed the count to 3-2, and got Fielder on what appeared to be a foul tip into the glove of Koyie Hill.

The highlights: The Cubs got 4 of their runs on 4 straight bases-loaded walks in the 4th inning--how's that for symmetry? But, there were bigger highlights than that: Alfonso Soriano led of another game with a home-run. He has 4 HR this year (naturally) had has been the star performer offensively for the Cubs.

Defensively, Reed Johnson made another huge, highlight-reel catch, reach over the wall in right field and stealing what would have been a grand slam by Fielder in the 5th inning. Ryan Dempster was just good enough in this game, and that catch probably kept him in the game a while longer.

The other interesting note is that Johnson had just entered the game a half-inning earlier after Milton Bradley suffered what appeared to be a groin injury running the bases. Let's hope the injury isn't too serious, but that's what you can expect from Bradley, who really hasn't done much in the young season so far.

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