One day CTA pass: $5.75
One heavily subsidized Cubs ticket: $1
One insanely marked up Mountain Dew in a flimsy “souvenir” cup: $5.25
One improbable walk-off win against the St. Louis Cardinals: Priceless
There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else there’s Mather vs. the Cardinals.
The Cubs began the day with 59 runs in 16 games. That meant that they needed 11 runs in the final seven games of April for me to win my bet. The lineup with righty-loaded against Jaime Garcia. The Cubs scored first, but then Matt Garza decided he was allergic to strikes and allowed the Cardinals to go ahead. The good news at that point was that the Cubs would not be shut out yet this season. The bad news was that the offense was impatient to the point where I facepalmed every other first-pitch out.
In fact, Matt Garza had thrown nearly twice as many pitches as Garcia in the same number of innings, which made me think that at some point this would become a bullpen game. Scary proposition for this season’s Cubs. Garza did win half the crowd (a nice crowd, I must admit) a Qdoba burrito with a surprise hit in the fifth inning, but unfortunately the Cubs didn’t score then either.
Garcia pitched into the 8th inning, but then Cards manager Mike Matheny decided that he needed to make a change. I was both relieved and disappointed, because to that point Garcia had only made 85 pitches and could have (and probably should have) completed the game. Darwin Barney was up and drew a walk against the reliever, Mitchell Boggs. I think Matheny should have left Garcia in and despite the fact that Barney had a good night against Garcia, it was more than likely that Garcia would have gotten out of it as he hadn’t been hit hard at all in his start. While it wasn’t apparent at the time, I thought that was the mistake of the game, because I felt like the Cubs had a better chance against the bullpen than against Garcia.
Jason Motte was throwing some hot cheese at the Cubs in the bottom of the ninth in a one-run game. I should say that I was surprised that the bullpen didn’t melt down, but James Russell and Rafael Dolis danced around some danger to keep the Cubs in it. Alfonso Soriano had a pretty good at-bat against Motte despite finally striking out, and then Bryan LaHair had an epic at-bat of his own before coaxing a walk. Geovany Soto followed with another walk, and that was key. Thankfully, the grounder hit by Steve Clevenger wasn’t fast enough for a double play so the Cubs stayed alive with Joe Mather up and both runners moved up.
By then most of the crowd had bugged out early to beat the rush. I guess some of them wanted to see the Blackhawks’ last hurrah against the Coyotes. Some Cubs fans probably figured this was the end, and some Cardinals fans probably decided there was no way the Cubs were winning this thing.
Once upon a time, I was in Oakland at an A’s game when they were streaking to 20 wins in a row. I left the game in the top of the 9th with the game tied and totally missed Scott Hatteberg‘s game-winning walkoff homer. Despite the fact that Mather was in an 0-2 hole, I stuck around. It’s baseball; anything can happen.
62 runs in 17 games. Six games to get eight. It’s gonna happen.