Does a Bear Die in the Woods?

PITTSBURGH—Not the Cubbie ones. Mine do it in classic humiliating fashion before 30,000 screaming Bucs nuts.

Their tragic elimination number down to one, Seamus gets me to Three Rivers so one fifth of me can evaporate with them live and in person. I suppose he’s showing me a little support by doing this, but I think I’d rather be in Cincinnati with my Cards, or Baltimore with my Royals, or Cleveland with my Twins or Boston with my White—no, I’ll pass on that one.

Regardless, Krukow is facing Rooker, and there’s a fierce determination in the Cubs players’ faces; I can see it from our seats behind first base. Morales gets us a run home in the 1st with a double play ball, and Swisher makes it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly in the 2nd. Garner ties it fairly quickly with a 2-run poke, but Swisher singles in Trillo his next time up and we’re back on top again. Ott ties it rather immediately with a solo shot, but Morales homers, Taveras boots a grounder with Murcer on third and we’re back on top again 5-3.

Hernandez takes over for the shaky Krukow, but nothing about this game feels right. The Pirates have been coming back late all season. Sure enough, it’s 5-4 after Gonzalez hits a scoring double play ball, it’s 5-5 when Bill Robinson scores on a two-out wild pitch from Sutter in the 8th, and then Tekulve throws his third shutout relief inning in the 9th.

“Aw quit with the mopin!” yells Mikey to me at that point, “You got four other teams to root for.”

“Right, but two are the White Sox and Twins.”

He has no comeback for that. And I have the dreadful feeling the Cubs’ minutes are numbered.

Jim Fregosi hits for Tekulve, hoping just to draw one of his typical walks and get a rally started. Instead, he picks out a Sutter split-finger fastball and rifles it toward the left field fence. I can’t look. The crowd rises and roars all around me. I stay in my seat as Morales races to the warning track. Grit my teeth and peek through the fingers of my right hand. The explosion of noise tells me it’s gone, that my Cubs are gone from the race, and—

And my right hand is no longer there.

CHC 110 120 000 – 5 10 1
PGH 020 101 011 – 6 11 1

W-Tekeulve L-Sutter HRS: Morales, Garner, Ott, Fregosi GWRBI-Fregosi

The Lester Line

at PHILLIES 4-10-1, ASTROS 3-10-1
Another shocker that isn’t really a shocker, because Houston is now 3-15 against Philly, but boy is this a brutal Astro loss. Bo McLaughlin is outpitching Lonborg and leading 3-1 when two singles and a walk get him tired in the 6th and brings on Sambito. Joe gets out of the bases-loaded jam, but gives up a single, sac and a Maddox single in the 7th to make it 3-2. In the 8th he falls apart, Sizemore knocking in the go-ahead runs after a clutch Boone sac bunt. With the big win, the Phils stay three and a half behind their state nemesis, and they’ll play two monster games at Three Rivers after tomorrow.

DODGERS 8-13-0, at EXPOS 3-9-2
L.A. is at it again, turning around a 3-2 Steve Rogers lead in the 7th with six runs, helped by a bases-clearing butchery by Warren Cromartie in left. Tommy John gets his 17th win, and Montreal’s tragic number drops to three.

CARDS 6-10-1, at REDS 2-4-0
The Forsch is with Bob again, wiping out the suddenly limp Reds offense as Heity Cruz takes Norman deep and Templeton gets two more singles to run his baseball-leading hit total to 219.

at ORIOLES 7-9-0, ROYALS 0-2-0
Just when they thought they were safe on top of the league, Mike Flanagan chews up the Royals on two hits. It’s only 2-0 Birds in the 7th when the out-challenged Paul Splittorff walks DeCinces and Singleton with two gone and gives up a triple to Andres Mora. Gura takes over to face Tom Shopay, who puts one in the bleachers to put the game away.

RANGERS 5-6-2, at YANKEES 3-6-2
Guidry couldn’t buy a win on eBay if eBay even existed. He has one horrible 2nd inning where Texas scores all their runs, then shuts out Texas on two hits the rest of the way, whiffing 12. The Yanks, who score two in the 1st, drop dead against Dock Ellis from there and the Rangers are back to a half game out.

at RED SOX 15-17-0, WHITE SOX 1-5-1
At Fenway, this one is actually 1-1 in the top of the 6th on a two-out Zisk homer off a shockingly non-sucky Tiant. But when Orta and Essian follow with singles, Bob Stanley takes over. Nice move, Zim. The Steamer blows away all ten Chicagoans he faces, while Boston proceeds to score 14 unanswered runs in three innings off Kucek, LaGrow, Bart Johnson, Don Kirkwood and Daffy Duck.

TWINS 20-20-1, at INDIANS 6-7-1
Minnesota collects two 4-run innings and two 5-run innings in their onslaught off Rick Waits and a calvacade of fools. Pat Dobson, one of said fools, is tossed along with Roy Smalley when he throws at the shortstop’s head after Dan Ford runs up the score with his team up by 12 in the 9th and Roy charges the mound. Now now, boys! With the win, the smoking Twins tie the Tribe for 6th place.

American League through Wednesday, August 27

Kansas City 73 58 .557
Texas 72 58 .554 0.5
Boston 68 59 .535 3
New York 68 60 .531 3.5
Baltimore 66 64 .508 6.5
Cleveland 58 72 .446 14.5
Minnesota 57 71 .445 14.5
Chicago 54 74 .422 17.5

National League through Wednesday, August 27

Pittsburgh 76 54 .589
Philadelphia 71 56 .559 3.5
Los Angeles 70 57 .551 4.5
Cincinnati 69 59 .539 6
St. Louis 69 60 .535 6.5
Houston 58 71 .450 18.5
Montreal 52 76 .406 24
Chicago 48 80 .375 28

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