POTG: SP Ryan Dempster (9 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 11 K, 0 BB!!!!!!, W )
Runner Up: SS Ryan Theriot (2 H, 2 RBI, 2B), 3B A Ram (2 H, 2 R), RF Fukudome (HR, 2R, 3 RBI, BB), CF Edmonds (H, 2 RBI), 2B-LF DeRosa (2 H, R)
I had a plan. I was taking off work early, stopping at my house just long enough to change into some better clothes, then zooming down the highways before they got buzy, making it to the park in plenty of time for good bleacher seats. It was going perfect, just up to getting home. I was in the house no more thn two minutes before jumping back in the card, turning the key and…
nothing. nothing turning over, nothing make a noise at all. Not that I didn’t try a million times just in case, you know, the car magically sprung to life again. I tried reading the manual, just in case there was a secret “do not start” button I had neglected. I opened the hood, looked inside, and realized I had absolutely no idea what I was looking at. It was at this point I finally decided to do the responsible thing – call around to see who’d be able to loan me their car so I could still make the game. I really couldn’t let a ticket go to waste like that.
Things worked from my favor from there. I did end up getting to the park about about an hour before the game, which wasn’t in time to meet up for tickets, but Maestroken realized you can easily (and probably legally) pass the ticket from inside the bleachers gate to people waiting in line for them. Maestroken was kind to give me an extra ticket for the game, and quick enough to scout out some nice seats in the second row of the bleachers, just behind Fukudome. The other people in the group were nice, cool to talk to, and tolerant of the strange person from the internet. (I did enjoy someone asking me if Maestroken knew me from posting on wrestling boards. Because once you say yes that, they don’t really need to ask you more.)
My big contribution was knowing who was starting for the Braves. This was a group paying enough attention to have an ongoing discussion about what it would take for people to actually start cheering Jim Edmonds (a couple more weeks, apparently), but the Braves have been throwing out a lot of mystery starters lately, and Jeff Bennett didn’t know he was going to be the next one until a few hours of the game. We never did get the full story on Jair Jurrjens to find out how exactly you miss a start because you twist an ankle walking down stairs so bad you miss a start, but I had heard about the change early to look up Bennett’s stats. He’s been a reliever most the year, and not a particularly good one, so I said he’d be bad and get lit up.
And Bennett was bad and got lit up, and it was great. It was kinda disappointing the Cubs didn’t do anything to any other Braves pitcher, but they did more enough to the first one. 7 H, 2 BB, 7 R, 1 beautiful home run by Kosuke, and this one was pretty much in celebration mode by 7:45.
Watching the game from behind Kosuke gave me a better appreciation about how he’s handling the situation. The people are in love with him, like they’ve saved up extra from Jacque Jones the last two years and are letting it out one huge burst on the new guy. Even when he plays bad, he still can do no wrong.
And yet, Fukudome is totally not wrapped up in it those cheers. Whenever he’d jog out to right field and get a big ovation, he’d respond with no more than a glove wave or a nod, and get back to work for the next three outs. It was a mix of acceptance and dismissiveness an older sibling might give to a younger kid who’s way too exicited about the littlest thing. Kosuke doesn’t seem like he’s going to let things get him up or down, he’s just going to keep on taking pitches.
The baseball drama on the night was Ryan Dempster, and his ability to make it nine innings. I figured his chances flew away with Corky Miller’s home run (that also erased the shut out), but Lou had enough confidence in him to let him go in the 8th with over 90 pitches. If Kelly Johnson doesn’t get out on the first pitch as the last batter of the 8th, maybe Ryan doesn’t get to go all 9, but he really didn’t have a problem finishing it out once his defense worked with him.
Like Ryan Dempster, the Cubs are getting better results than it seems to make sense they should be. You can question it and be conscious of the change to come, but you also enjoy nights like these. If reality catches up, might as well have fun while you’ve got some distance on it. And if it never does, then it wasn’t wroth fretting about.