Filed:July 29th, 2009
Another rough day at Wrigley for the Houston Astros (Cubbie Nation/file)
Ever seen Platoon? Great stuff. There's a scene, after a firefight in the brush, in which Tom Berenger's character muzzles a screaming G.I. shot in the conflict while urging him to "Take the pain. Take the pain".
Poor Cecil Cooper must have been having a Platoon moment Wednesday as starter Mike Hampton was coming completely undone in the first, and given his bullpen issues, had no choice but to leave Hampton in to get pounded.
The end result? A 12-0 beatdown that seems even odder than the previous night's game. It was another win for a suddenly unbeatable Randy Wells, winner of seven of his last eight.
I'll say this again. Any team that's featuring Mike Hampton, Brian Moehler, and Russ Ortiz on the same staff is not going anywhere. I don't say this as an insult to the franchise or it's fans. It's just a fact. And the sooner that their front office gets serious about bringing front-line pitching back to Houston, the sooner we'll all be enjoying them in the playoffs again. And yes, I can enjoy the Astros in the playoffs, as long as the Cubs are there with them.
But back to the game in which we find out, yet again, that Mike Hampton is a mess. It wasn't that he made any particular mistake, but he just couldn't stay closed. Ball outside. Ball outside. Ball outside.
The Cubs batted around on him in the first, stringing together a pair of runs on a sacrifice fly and an RBI single by Aramis Ramirez. Then, when he finally was able to get a pitch over the plate, it was thrown—not pitched—and served up as a fastball so fat that Alfonso Soriano had no problem jacking it out for a three-run homer.
I suppose you could give him credit for at least keeping it together for a few more innings—sort of—but when the Cubs grabbed another pair in the fourth on RBI hits from Derrek Lee and Milton Bradley it closed the book on Hampton. Four innings. Nine runs. And a shiny 5.36 ERA for the season.
One other nice moment was in the ninth when, with the game in hand, Mitch Atkins made his major league debut and pitched a scoreless inning of relief. Randy Bush mentioned in the offseason that he felt Atkins had a major contribution to make to the team this year. Well, now's his chance. Personally, I'd be happy if he stuck around longer than Justin Berg.
Bad news for Cubs fans though, as Reed Johnson suffered a fractured toe on a foul ball in the first. He's out a month, and I've no idea how to counter that. I wouldn't trust Fukudome out there every day for certain though. And while the idea of sticking Bradley in center to start a game and maybe putting Fox in right once or twice a week is tempting. Then again, this may be a case where you just break down and find yourself a utility guy to give the club some flexibility.
And the Cardinals were able to keep pace with the Cubs when Albert Pujols got the game-winner in the 15th inning against the Dodgers. The 15th? Geez, NL Central bullpens are going to look like a M.A.S.H. unit by the end of the week at this pace.