I was in Chicago this last weekend for a cousin’s wedding. I went to Wrigley on Friday to watch the Cubs and D-Backs play, and, well, it was awesome. Sure, it was a Friday afternoon game, with a 1:10 pm start, so the first three innings saw the ballpark less than full, but by 2:20, about midway through the top of the fourth inning, the park had filled nicely, and when they announced the attendance in the bottom of the seventh they said 38800 ended up showing up.
Randy Wells started well for the Cubs, getting first pitch strikes on the first four batters he faced, but in the fourth, the D-backs roughed him up for four hits, three of them doubles, and three runs.
D-Back starter Rodrigo Lopez was pitching a nice game until he made the most bone-headed play I may have ever seen by a Major League pitcher: with one out in the bottom of the sixth, holding a 4-1 lead, and with runners at first and third he got ahead of Derrek Lee and induced an infield popup. Now, this wasn’t a popup off a bunt attempt but a real, honest-to-goodness Major League popup. So, instead of getting the hell out of the way, like the pitcher is supposed to, he hung around, and just as Adam LaRoche was reaching out to make the grab, he drifted back into the play, backing into LaRoche, causing his first baseman to…drop the ball. Everyone is safe, and then the havoc begins, culminating in Alfonso Soriano blasting a three run jack and putting the Cubbies ahead for good 6-4.
Wells comes out and promptly gives up an opposite field solo shot to Chris Snyder, but Grabow came in and just shut the D-Backs down, striking out two of three batters.
In the bottom of the seventh, Marlon Byrd pinch hit for Grabow and came in to play the field in the top of the eighth. And something else really interesting happened. The wind was blowing straight off the lake for the whole game (straight out to left), and several dozen seagulls had been flying around the bleachers. But as soon as Byrd gets to center, about seventy of the real birds landed in short right-center field, where they hung out until the end of the inning. The Cubs go in to bat for the bottom of the eighth, the seagulls resumed wheeling around the scoreboard, and Soto and Byrd went back-to-back off of D-back reliever Mulvey–who had been called up from AAA the day before–with Byrd’s shot clearing everything and landing on Waveland Ave. When the Cubs come back out for the top of the ninth, with Byrd returning to center, the seagulls landed in front of him and just sat there until Marmol threw his 29th (not even kidding) and final pitch of the inning. Truly weird. I guess if the fans won’t do “The Bird” like the fans in Texas used to do for Marlon, then the seagulls will show support instead.
At any rate, if you haven’t been to Wrigley…what the hell are you waiting for?! A lot of the fans seemed more interested in beer than the game, but they were friendly and kind of amused I was keeping score.
It was a blast, even though I was way up there in the grandstand down the third base line. Yeah, up there:
Yeah, it was Section 508, which you may be able to locate on the following seating chart:
Marmol threw “only” 26 pitches in the ninth.