September 15, 2008 [LINK / comment]
Zambrano pitches no-hitter*
What an ironic situation! The Cubs-Astros series had to be moved to Milwaukee because of Hurricane Ike, but Miller Park was anything but a "neutral" venue. Milwaukee fans have strong anti-Cub sympathies, while thousands of fans drove up from Chicago (only 90 miles away) to give the Cubbies an unexpected psychological boost. Carlos Zambrano made the most of it, pitching his first career no-hitter, and the first time a Cubs pitcher had done so since Milt Pappas in 1972. See MLB.com. * The unusual circumstances of this no-hitter will give rise to loud grumblings from Brewers fans and others, hence the asterisk above.
Our very own correspondent from the Upper Midwest, Mark London, decided to see that game on the spur of the moment, and he and his wife were amply rewarded by getting to witness the historical event. About the large number of Cubs fans present, he writes, "It's no wonder they call it Wrigley Field North." (Indeed, the White Sox played some of their "home games" at Milwaukee County Stadium in 1968 and 1969.) Mark also tells me, "The Brewers ground crew dug out the pitching rubber after the game, presumably to give to Zambrano. Nice touch of class on the Brewer's part. Guess they made up for that by firing Ned Yost an hour ago."
The last time a hurricane caused a baseball series to be relocated was September 10-11, 2004, when the Florida Marlins hosted the Montreal Expos at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, so as to avoid Hurricane Ivan in Miami. See the Anomalous stadiums page, newly updated.
Busch Stadium (III) in St. Louis was available since the Cardinals were in Pittsburgh, but there must have been some objections to using it for this series. Steven Poppe told me they should have used the Superdome in New Orleans, but that would have involved too much last-minute shuffling around.
In today's game, Ted Lilly had a no-hitter going into the seventh inning, at which point Mark Loretta hit a single. The Cubs still won the game, 6-1, and are now eight games ahead of the Brewers.
Brewers fire Ned Yost
While the Chicago Cubs fell into a slump this month, the Milwaukee Brewers not only failed to take advantage of the situation, but actually fell further behind in the standings. So the Brewers fired manager Ned Yost, replacing him temporarily with one of their coaches, Dale Sveum. See MLB.com.
Marlins sweep Nats
Oh, how aggravating! The Nationals practically gave away two of their three games in Miami. On Friday, Shairon Martis pitched a great game, giving up only two hits over five innings, but he made a classic rookie error that ended up deciding the game. He snagged a hard grounder in the sixth inning, and had Hanley Ramirez caught between second and third base, but threw the ball to second, whereupon Cristian Guzman threw it off-line to Ryan Zimmerman at third, and Ramirez was safe. Later he scored, and the Fish won, 2-1. Saturday's game wasn't much different, as the Nats lost 4-2. On Sunday, the Nats finally got their bats cooking, and were ahead 6-1 going into the bottom of the eighth inning. Then the Marlins scored seven runs off four different pitchers. The Nats scored one in the top of the ninth, but it wasn't enough, as they lost once again, 8-7. The bullpen melted down once again, wasting Collin Balester's fine performance. MLB.com.
It's called elementary situational baseball. I remember many years ago playing softball in right field, when I had a runner between first and second. For some reason, I threw the ball to first, and the guy made it safely to second. Boy, did I get yelled at! That's how you learn, and I'm sure that Shairon Martis has likewise learned his lesson -- the hard way.