July 18, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney (15) tags out Miami Marlins center fielder Emilio Bonifacio (1) at second base on a steal attempt in the third inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-US PRESSWIRE

Strange Baseball: Cubs Up 5-1 On Marlins at 8th Inning Rain Delay


 

When Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis read the starting lineup and throw the opening pitch to a baseball game, you know it’s going to be a strange one.

While the Cubs were leading 5-1 in the bottom of the 8th before the rain came and washed the game away, it was not an easy task for the North Siders to claw their way to a lead.

They had been no hit for 3 straight innings – and showed no signs of collecting that elusive H as everything they struck was solid and true, but aimed directly at Marlins’ defenders. It was if the Cubs were unable to find any seams in the Marlins’ defense, when really they seldom had to even move or leap to make easy outs.

Stange baseball was upon us, and the Cubs were its latest victim.

This was all very unnerving to witness, at it seemed that the Marlins would have to merely stand in place and collect out after out while Josh Johnson would cruise along on the mound without a care in the world. Typically, I’m a very optimistic ball fan but something about how this game felt just seemed off.

Suddenly, as quickly as the game had felt like the Cubs could get no momentum going already being down a run, Starlin Castro belts a liner hard out to center that clears the wall for the first hit and run of the game. This ball sounded almost similar to all the other hit balls, but it carried well and found its way over the wall.

The game was tied: strange baseball was in full effect.

While the defense was solid, the pitching was just as good. Jeff Samardzija only gave up 6H, 1Er, 3BB while K-ing 9 batters. He looked comfortable, but a little shaky as he was having issues locating his fastball where he wanted it. The prime example of this being giving up the only Marlins’ run on an 0-2 “burner” fastball up and in to Jose Reyes. The Marlins’ third baseman is not known for belting homers, the one tonight being just his 4th of the season.

Samardzija, being the solid athlete that he is, managed to settle himself down knowing he had made an obvious mistake. He went on to switch his pitching approach to more of an offspeed mix, using his chageup-curve combo to keep the Marlins’ batters off balance. He was effective, but innefficient going only 5 innings strong tossing 97 total pitches (66 strikes). If he hopes to become a top of the rotation starter one day, he’ll have to keep that pitch count much lower. Kudos to him for a solid outing none the less.

 

Manuel Corpas, who had spent some time in AAA Iowa this season, was brought in to relieve Samardzija. His relaxed sidearm delivery was effective as he had a clean box and 2 Ks in 1 inning of work. Business as usual for the RHP, maintaining his 1.59 ERA.

James Russell was asked to take the mound in the 7th and was also largely effective but innefficient. Russell walked 1 and gave up a hit, but surrendered no runs. He faced the same problems as Samardzija did, as his control was present but lacked command. He ended up tossing 22 pitches for 13 strikes in 1 inning of work. That’s a few too many pitches for my taste, but he is young and still developing. As a LHP, he is also massively valuable to the organization (who lack LHP) and cannot be discredited for his supremely consistent performances all season long.

After some more jockeying for position between pitching duels and good defense, the Cubs broke the game open in the bottom of the 7th with 4 runs. The bats had finally had Johnson figured out and a little bit of luck on a Geovany Soto 1 out bouncing ground ball started the rally, as Alfonso Soriano scored on the play. Jeff Baker was also on the right side of the inch on a well hit ball that just barely stayed fair along the 3rd baseline, scoring 2 runs in the process.

It seemed that the bad luck that the Cubs had been experiencing in the early parts of this game was now paying off with good luck. The game could have easily been broken open by either team, and the Cubs happened to find the right time to cash some runs.

While Shawn Camp, who has 46 game appearances now, was on the mound working the bottom of top of the 8th, the rain began to fall as a storm was passing through the greater Chicago area.

Now we sit and wait to see if this game will be called…. but this writer needs some sleep, so I better get some twitter updates telling me who won.

 

Want more? You can always follow me on twitter @Denny_CubsCrib for Cubs analysis, news, humor and updates.

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