Aaron Harang looked as sharp as ever Tuesday, but a fat pitch to Mike Fontenot in the second inning resulted in a three-run homer and proved to be the game-winner in a 4-2 Cubs win.
Randy Wells is awesome. And I don't say that because of his talent, or the hot winning streak that he's on right now.
I say it because he's a great reminder that for all of the scouting reports, draft analysis, prospect evaluations, and farm system rankings, players still have to go out and play, and average guys are capable of making big contributions.
A few years ago, guys like Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, and Ryan Theriot were coming up without much fanfare and still made major contributions to the team during their last two playoff runs.
Now, it's converted catcher and 38th-round draft pick, Randy Wells. I can't flip a sport show on without him now being labeled as the trendy Rookie of The Year pick. It's a great story, and for me probably a fresh reminder that I need to take stats and paper evaluations with a grain of salt.
His performance last night was flawless. He had changing speeds, good movement on his pitches, and proved to be durable when Lou Piniella decided to bypass middle relief and pitch him into the eighth inning.
But when Alex Gonzalez served up a pinch-hit homer—really more of a fatigue hit than a mistake—it was time to go.
John Grabow would come in and induce a Brandon Phillips' double play to end the inning, although not before plunking Joey Votto. An accident I'm sure, but one I viewed with a certain amount of perverse pleasure, given the way Votto has abused the Cubs this year.
But these are the Cubs, so even a Monday game in "Cincy" was sure to have drama.
This time it was in the ninth, when Marmol came in instead of Kevin Gregg, which surely excited the blogosphere writers who've been clamoring for this move.
Sorry guys, it's just a tired arm, and as Lou so eloquently put it when asked if he'd make that move permanent, "Why should I?"
Good question, especially given that Marmol, likely the next, most capable closer, is still something of a mess.
Were it not for the grace of light-hitting Willy Taveras, who grounded out in the ninth with a pair of runners on to end the game, we'd be having a very ugly conversation this morning.
Although, I think that conversation may have taken place last night when, before retiring Taveras, Piniella had a very animated discussion with his closer—one I suspect is not suitable for print.
It's bad times in "Cincy" for the Reds, now losers of their last seven. But Tom Gorzelanny—who's looked a lot more hittable in AAA than the stats show—has gotten the call for tonight against Chicago. This could be very interesting.