There was a buzz out at Hohokam Stadium today, with the Texas Rangers coming to Mesa, and the return of a former Cub, Jerry Hairston. Of course, the buzz at the stadium wasn’t about him, although he is also a Texas Non-Roster invitee. It was about slammin’ Sammy Sosa, and his return to Hohokam for the first time since spring of 2004. I was wondering what kind of reception he would receive when I announced his name coming to bat, from my vantage point in the press box behind home plate, it sounded about 3/4 positive. As the game progressed, by Sosa’s 3rd at bat in the 5th inning, it seemed the reverse of that- my guess is the boos and heckles got louder as more beer was consumed. Sammy’s day at the plate was fairly uneventful, 1 hit in 3 at bats, an infield single that Mark DeRosa playing 3rd base bare-handed, but wasn’t in time to get him with the throw. His last at bat in the 5th inning was exciting however, as a routine grounder took a bad hop to SS Ronny Cedeno, who made an amazing bare-handed over-his-shoulder snag, throwing out Sosa at first.
Cliff Floyd in morning warm-ups announced “It is going to be a good day” and he was right! Sosa aside, the game was interesting, and had an exciting finish, with Daryle Ward hitting a walk off grand slam in the bottom of the 9th, pushing the Cubs to an 11 to 7 victory. 11,674 fans showed up for this 3 hour and 29 minute hump day game. It’s kind of funny, I was talking to Al Yellon from Bleed Cubbie Blue prior to the game about all things Cubs, including how well Jason Marquis had been pitching this spring- not giving up many HR’s, walks, etc. Of course, that’s the kiss of death when you start talking about how good a guy is doing, because Marquis started for the Cubs, and had a not so great outing. He gave up 5 runs on 9 hits, but the discouraging part was he walked 3 batters, and gave up 3 homeruns during his 5 innings. Pitcher Roberto Novoa is not long for this Cubs team- he started the 7th inning by walking 3 consecutive batters to load the bases. The Cubs and Novoa were bailed out by an outstanding effort by Scott Eyre, who struck out 2 of the 3 batters he faced, and didn’t allow a run to score.
The Cubs continue to hit the ball well, Derrek Lee who has been a hitting machine this spring, continuing today- going 2 for 4 with 3 RBI’s. Cliff Floyd, Mark DeRosa, and Jacque Jones each had 2 hits, Jones doubled and hit a game-tying homerun in the 7th. Daryle Ward, who had been criticized earlier this spring for coming in overweight and out of shape, and was not hitting well to date, had a nice game coming off the bench, including a go-ahead RBI single in the 7th, and the game winning grand salami. The Cubs continue their base stealing ways, as Soriano and Theriot both had a stolen base, although DeRosa was thrown out in an attempted steal. The fans were on their feet when Michael Wuertz was trying to hold a 1 run lead, and end the game in the Rangers half of the 9th. The Rangers were able to plate a run, tying the game leading to the exciting bottom of the 9th heroics from the Cubs.
Other notes: Wrigley Field Public Address Voice and Frequent Anthem singer, Wayne Messmer and his wife Kathy sang God Bless America before the game, and led the 7th inning stretch in Take Me Out to the Ballgame as well. Cubs fan and Pulitzer Prize winning writer George Will attended today’s game. Cubs manager Lou Piniella was interviewed for the Best Damn Sports Show by his old ‘nasty boy’ Rob Dibble, who played for Lou when his Reds won the World Series in 1990.
A Happy Sosa Today