May 2010

5/26 Lights on – update

Wednesday’s power outage at Wrigley Field was the third at the ballpark since lights were installed in 1988. The two other times both happened in 2003 and both were during Cubs-Brewers games. On May 6, 2003, a power outage in the Lakeview area knocked out the lights in the ninth inning for 15 minutes. On June 24 that year, the lights went out in the first inning of a Cubs-Brewers game.

The problem Wednesday was a neighborhood fire. The ballpark went dark at 8:25 p.m. CT in the fourth inning of the Cubs’ game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Chicago pitcher Tom Gorzelanny threw a 3-1 pitch to Blake DeWitt which home plate umpire Wally Bell called a ball, and suddenly the lights went out.

An electrical fire occurred in the neighborhood in the 3800 block of North Racine, near Racine and Grace streets, that caused the Fire Department and Commonwealth Edison to enact an emergency shutdown to the power grid that included Wrigley Field.

During the shutdown, the Cubs transferred from their primary service to their secondary service for the ballpark. Because of the nature of the emergency shutdown, the transfer didn’t happen automatically, thus the loss of the lighting at Wrigley.

Once the lights went out, it took 18 minutes for them to cool down and re-ignite in order for play to be resumed. On Wednesday, the lights were out 18 minutes.

— Carrie Muskat

5/26 Extra bases

Xavier Nady’s home run in the sixth was his first pinch-hit homer for the Cubs and third of his career. He also did so twice while with Pittsburgh: Aug. 13, 2007, in the second game of a doubleheader against the Giants; and Aug. 24, 2007, against Houston.

* Mike Fontenot hit two doubles Wednesday, the first time he’s done that since June 25, 2007, vs. Colorado. In that game, he went 5-for-5 with two RBIs.

— Carrie Muskat 

5/26 Lights out

Somebody must have blown a fuse at Wrigley Field.

The lights went out at the ballpark at 8:25 p.m. CT in the fourth inning of the Cubs’ game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Chicago pitcher Tom Gorzelanny threw a 3-1 pitch to Blake DeWitt which home plate umpire Wally Bell called a ball, and suddenly the ballpark went dark.

Players came off the field and the umpires huddled together, eating sunflower seeds.

Wrigley was the last Major League ballpark to get lights when they were installed in August 1988.

— Carrie Muskat

5/26 Big Z back in 'pen this weekend

Carlos Zambrano will be back in the Cubs bullpen Thursday through Saturday before he is inserted into the rotation again. Who gets bumped has yet to be revealed.

“We have a pretty good idea of what we’re going to do,” Lou Piniella said. “We’ll use Carlos in the bullpen in the St. Louis series [this weekend] and then we’ll insert him into the rotation.”

The right-hander was the Cubs’ Opening Day starter and started four games before agreeing to switch to the bullpen April 22 to make room for Ted Lilly, who was activated from the disabled list at that time. In 11 relief appearances, Zambrano is 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA, giving up six runs on 16 hits over 11 1/3 innings. Three of those runs came in a relief outing May 14 against the Pirates. Zambrano asked to return to the rotation after that game.

Piniella was in no hurry to say who among the five current starters — Lilly, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny — will be reassigned.

“We don’t have to make a determination until next week,” Piniella said Wednesday. “We’ll let everybody pitch and go from there.”

It most likely won’t be Silva. He’s 6-0 and needs to be kept on a routine. When Big Z starts against the Pirates will depend on how much he’s used over the weekend against the Cardinals.

“They’ve all pitched well,” Piniella said of his starters. “The amazing thing is when Lilly came back, if we hadn’t taken Zambrano out, we were going to have to take somebody out anyway. We were in the same situation when Lilly came back from his rehab. We needed a spot for Lilly.

“We tried the Zambrano thing in the bullpen and all we’re doing now is opening a spot for Zambrano,” Piniella said. “It’s no different. We can’t pitch six. The amazing part about it is whoever comes out of the rotation can really help us in the bullpen, too.”

— Carrie Muskat

5/26 Lineup

Tyler Colvin is starting in center field Wednesday night for the Cubs against the Dodgers. Here’s the lineup:

RF Fukudome

2B Theriot

1B Lee

LF Soriano

CF Colvin

3B Fontenot

SS Castro

C Hill

P Gorzelanny

— Carrie Muskat

5/26 The 300 club

Both Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano are one swing away from joining the 300 homer club. Lee hit No. 299 on Tuesday and Soriano reached that mark on Sunday.

If they do connect in the same game, they won’t be the first to do so. On April 13, 2009, the White Sox’s Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko not only both reached 300 in the same game, but in back to back at-bats at Detroit.

So far, 125 players have hit 300 home runs, including six who reached the milestone with the Cubs. The most recent was Sammy Sosa on June 26, 1999.

— Carrie Muskat

5/26 Minor matters

Casey Coleman gave up two runs on five hits over six innings in Iowa’s 8-2 win over Salt Lake on Tuesday. Sam Fuld and Brian LaHair each had two hits, and LaHair drove in three runs.

Double-A Tennessee had Tuesday off. The Smokies open a 10-game road trip at Montgomery Wednesday.

Brooks Raley gave up two runs on six hits over six innings in Daytona’s 5-3 win over Brevard County. Michael Brenly had two hits and Kyler Burke hit his third homer.

Trey McNutt threw five scoreless innings, giving up two hits, in Peoria’s 2-0 win over Cedar Rapids. Charles Thomas hit a solo homer to back McNutt, now 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA.

— Carrie Muskat

5/25 The X-factor

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Tuesday night marked the first time in Major League history that two Xaviers have played against each other. Coincidentally, they both started in right field. Chicago’s Xavier Nady and L.A.’s Xavier Paul are the only two X-men to play in the big leagues at the same time, and Tuesday marked the first time they squared off in the same game. According to STATS Inc., there have only been four Xaviers in ML history:


* Xavier Rescigno: A right-handed pitcher, he played for Pittsburgh from 1943-45.

* Xavier Hernandez: A right-handed pitcher who played for Toronto, Houston, New York (A.L.), Cincinnati and Texas from 1989-1998.

* Xavier Nady: San Diego, New York (N.L.), Pittsburgh, New York (A.L.) and Chicago (N.L.) from 2000, 2003-2010.

* Xavier Paul: Los Angeles (N.L.) in 2009-10


— Carrie Muskat


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5/25 No. 299 and counting …

Both Alfonso Soriano and Derrek Lee are one swing away from joining the 300 home run club. Lee hit No. 299 on Tuesday in the Cubs’ 3-0 win over the Dodgers.

Here are some of Lee’s milestone home runs:

1st: Sept. 28, 1997, at San Francisco off Cory Bailey

50th: Sept. 28, 2000, vs. Montreal off Felipe Lira

100th: April 11, 2003, vs. Atlanta off Horacio Ramirez

150th: July 30, 2004, vs. Philadelphia off Eric Milton

200th: Aug. 28, 2005, vs. Florida off Josh Beckett

250th: May 26, 2008, vs. Los Angeles Dodgers off Chad Billingsley

— Carrie Muskat

5/25 Cubs looking good

Lou Piniella has seen some good things lately from the Cubs, who blanked the Dodgers 3-0 Tuesday night.

“We’re playing with a little more intensity,” he said. “Our defensive play has gotten a whole lot better and that really helps our pitching. We’re starting to get key hits that allow us to win baseball games. I’m optimistic. We just have to keep playing, though.”

Ryan Dempster is seeing some good things, too.

“We’re starting to play better,” Dempster said. “We had a real good end of the homestand and good road trip. … We’re starting to do things better and play better baseball and play with a lot of energy and hopefully that carries over and translates into a lot of victories.”

They were able to do the little things against the Dodgers — take advantage of an error, steal a base, get a RBI hit.

“We seem to be doing more of that lately and coming up with two-out hits,” Dempster said. “I think definitely the better competition you play, it brings out the best in you and maybe that’s what pushes you over the hump.”

* Dempster also had no problem handing the ball over to Carlos Marmol, who pitched the ninth for his 10th save. Dempster has been the only starter on a regular five-day rotation while the others have gotten a breather now and then. Marmol retired the side, striking out Manny Ramirez to end the game.

“[Marmol] is starting to hit that fastball down and away and he’s got as good a slider as I’ve ever seen and as anybody in the league has right now,” Dempster said.

— Carrie Muskat