1-0 after 2.2. Two out, man on second. Good time for the pitcher, Lilly, to get a freak base hit.

Sadly it was not to be.

One cool thing about the Cubs is that their pitchers can hit the ball. Zambrano has near pinch-hitting qualifications at a season long near-.350 batting average with 3 big flies. As a switch hitter.

Milwaukee won easily, so the pressure, such as it is, is on the Cubs. Lilly on the mound for the good guys, and he’s been excellent, as has the Cubs’ starting pitching for most of year. Harden was a great pickup. He’s been dominant, and would be my playoff #1 starter if things shake out in terms of rotation. So far, Harden has been un-hittable.

At the risk of a jinx, and as a Cubs fan I know jinx, Lilly is perfect through 3. I only believe in that jinx stuff when I personally bring it up, but one of these days I’ll be wrong, and speculating on a perfect game, much less a no-hitter, is a fool’s game.

But it sure is fun to watch unfold.

Cubs up, 46-17 at home, bottom of the 3rd. Top of the order up, which means the freakish Soriano leads off. I hate the idea of Soriano in the lead-off spot, given how often he strikes out, but there are weird and compelling chemistry cases to be made for him leading off.

Wow! He walks! Not Al’s specialty, but this team has been great about taking pitches.

Theriot lines out, Lee walks. Ramirez up. He’s due for a big hit. 1-1, first and second.

Full count. Damn. Easy double play. OK, things are still good, since Lilly hasn’t given up a baserunner yet. *gasp* I know, I know, but I believe in the reverse-jinx every bit as much as the standard jinx. Had I bet on a perfect game, Lilly would be in really bad shape, but so far, so good. Since I didn’t.

Yes, I control baseball outcomes every bit as well as I do the stock market. I’m that good.

OK, the perfect game is gone after a walk, but the no-hitter? Still very much in play. *snark*

Reds still have 0 hits through 4.

On to more runs for the good guys after the commercial break.

Arroyo of the Reds has 4 walks through 3.0. Not a good sign. Edmonds on first, nobody out, a lot of unsung Cubs heroes coming to bat. DeRosa first. 0-1. 0-2. 1-2. 2-2. Several foul balls in the sequence. Good at-bat.

Floater to the right side! 1st and 3rd, nobody out. A true fighting hit. DeRosa would be my MVP if it came from the Cubs, and it won’t. This year nobody has stood out, but everyone has handled it. KoseK lames out.

Soto batting, a Peter Gammons-certified MVP candidate. First NL rookie catcher in history to start the All-Star game. Great baseball player. Streaky hitter. 0-2. Probable strike out, but there is still hope. 1-2, chin-music.

Arggh. Easiest double-play ever? Close. Unassisted 6-3 with 15 feet to spare. 1-0 after 4.

Lilly is grooving, like totally. No hits for the Reds through 5. Not close, really. Another breezy inning, which means if he’s in the hunt, he’ll have the gas and the manager’s green light to go for it, if he continues at this pace. 64 pitches through 5.

(Yes, I need to get a life. The problem is that I think I have one.)

Cubs go quietly into the night in the bottom of the 5th. Perfect game to lose with nothing but shame.

Here we go. Leadoff double. On a good pitch, down and a little away.

Pitcher strikes out. Still no good, since a wild-pitch strike 3 leaves men on 1st and 3rd with one out. Baseball. It’s a little like golf in terms of luck and fate.

DeRosa with a great play to get one, but the game is tied, 1-1, because the goodness of the defensive play meant no double-play. Shit.

Lilly is fighting now, and he’s good at it. He’s fighting his control, he’s fighting his temperament, and he’s fighting his luck. 2-2, men on first and second, two out.

If he gets Phillips, I’ll still like my/our chances. Good battle. Got ’em.

1-1 through 5. Time to hit the fucking ball around a little. Not many baseball fans realize it, but the Cubs are +171 in run differential, #2 being 122. That’s a big difference over the long run.

Lee strikes out. He’s been hitting for shit, but to me that’s good, because D. Lee is NOT going to hit for shit for all that long a period of time. I’d prefer he get it out of his system while they’re still winning. Ramirez up, but I sniff nothing this inning.

Unless Edmonds hits the long fly, we’re going to 7 tied. Which is exactly what happened, and by that I mean not the long fly. Three up, three down.

Bloop fucking double for Encarnacion to start the fucking 7th. Lilly has been good, and it isn’t paying off. Grounder to second, runner to third, one out. Good baseball by the Reds. Very good hitter up: .340 average, close to .400 OBP. I’ll be surprised if they don’t get this run in.

They did. Sac fly, 2-1, two out.

Three out, there is hope.

One run is for shit in Wrigley this year, especially, IMHO, when the Cubs’ pitcher has kicked ass, which Lilly has done. The hitters on the Cubs seem to take this stuff personally.

Bottom 7. 9 outs to go. Even though the wind is blowing straight in, a long ball is well within reason. You have to hit it hard with a incoming wind in Wrigley, but it happens all the time.

DeRosa up, and he strikes out, which is rare and lame. K. Fukodome up and he can’t hit for shit lately. Which he still does (hit for shit). Two out, nobody on. This would be a crappy game to lose, and it is hard not to see coming.

Soto walks. Not gonna be enough. Fontenot, the other froggy in the Cubs order, won’t get it done. Two innings to go. (Mike Fontenot, one half of the Cajun double play–Theriot–strikes out. Which you’ll note I called. Not the K, but the out.)

What a terrible game to lose this would be. For Christ’s sake, at least get Lilly off the hook, since he pitched great.

On to inning #8. 6 outs to go for the good guys. 6 for the bad. No, 5. Now 4. Now a fucking single, due to a great play in right field by the KosK. Normally, a ball into the bullpen on either side of Wrigley Field is a double. No matter. Onto the bottom of the 8th. Cubs with 6 outs to go, Reds with 3. 2-1 Reds.

The Cubs may want to squeeze one across this inning. It would help.

Not gonna happen. 2 outs, wind blowing in, I predict the Cubs, as history tells us, figure out a way to lose a game that they should’ve won. 1 run? That’s horseshit. On to #9, where hope springs eternal.

Red on second, 2 out. Pressure time. The Cubs will get a very small boost, baseball-speaking, if they get out of this. Colbert (!) with the .340 average and .386 OPS gets robbed by DeRosa, who if there is a FSM, will come to bat this inning, as he’s had a great game. Yes! He’s up third, I’m told.

One run is the dealio. There are a whole bunch of ways to score one.

Personally, as a long time Cubs fan, I don’t think it will happen, but I’l hang in there.

Crunch time. Bottom of the 9th. Ramirez up. The man can hit the ball. He’s a natural. 2-2. Give me a walk. A bloop. 3-2. Edmonds on deck. Big pitch: Ramirez fouls one off. Strike out on ball 4. Shitty at bat.

One down. Edmonds down 0-2. Not looking good. Called strike 3, right over. One out to go. DeRosa batting. 🙂 0-1. 1-1. 2-1. 2-2. Game over on a perfect pitch.

Bad game to lose. On we go.

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