Theodore Roosevelt Lilly III.
That about sums up Opening Day 2009 at Wrigley Field.
Rain delayed the start of today’s game for an hour and 12 minutes, but couldn’t put on a damper on the Cubs home opener or the mood of the 40,077 fans that showed up to spite it.
Ted Lilly walked catcher Chris Iannetta in the third inning and didn’t allow another Rockie to reach base until Garrett Atkins singled with two outs in the seventh to end the no-hit bid.
Lilly then walked the next batter, outfielder Seth Smith, before being removed after 104 pitches and the tying run, in the form of Troy Tulowitzki, coming to the plate. Angel Guzman relieved Lilly, and immediately threw a wild pitch to move both runners into scoring position. He then got Tulo to fly out to center and end the Rockies only threat of the day.
Aaron Heilman and Kevin Gregg worked around one out walks to pitch the 8th and 9th innings respectively and preserve the one-hit shutout for Chicago.
With the wind blowing in, Lilly looked nothing like the pitcher who struggled through spring training and his opening start in Houston. He served up five home runs in 11 innings in spring training, and gave up four more last Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.
However, on this cold, blustery day at Wrigley Field, Lilly threw 6 2/3 innings of one hit ball, walking two and allowing zero runs while striking out eight Rockies to earn his second win in as many starts here in 2009.
The Cubs, or should I say Ubaldo Jimenez and the Rockies, gave Lilly his first lead on yet another bases loaded walk drawn by Chicago hitters. Koyie Hill drew the RBI-walk to score Derrek Lee, who was batting in the clean-up spot for today’s game.
Lee was moved to fourth in the lineup due to Milton Bradley being out with a tweaked groin, and Aramis Ramirez getting the day off with a stiff back. Bob Brenly said on a talk show this morning that it would seem like an obvious move to use Ramirez in the three-hole and move Lee to the 5-hole; and ESPN “analyst” Joe Morgan also campaigned for Ramirez to bat in the three-hole during Sunday night’s telecast.
How did Derrek respond? Lee reached base in four of his five plate appearances, going 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI single to go with two walks.
And Piniella’s response to the grumbles? “It’s just today’s lineup,” he said. “My (fourth) and fifth hitters are out of there, so we just made some adjustments with our lineup today. We’d like to get Derrek going, no question. He’s been working and I’m confident he’ll start swinging the bat the way he’s capable of. He’s working though.”
Soriano continued his hot start, going 2-for-4 with a walk though he struckout with the bases loaded to end the second, and again with two runners on and nobody out in the fourth. Fukudome also continued to shine, going 1-of-2 with an RBI to go along with his three walks.
Rockies’ starter Ubaldo Jimenez (1-1) needed 104 pitches to last just 3 2/3 innings, walking six and giving up three earned runs.
Colorado falls to 3-4 while Chicago moves to a season high three games over .500 at 5-2.