Midwest Shrinkage Day

CHICAGO—One-armed Lester here, after another awful bus ride to the Windy City for some double crosstown action. At Wrigley it’s the Cubs spoiling the Dodgers’ sofa again in typical excruciating fashion (See my summary below; I don’t think Sherman can handle many more details.) Over at Comiskey, the White Sox need a win against the first-place Royals and 18-game winner Leonard to stay mathematically alive. And with the weird Indian summer weather they’re having, they have to do it with their shorts on. Crazy Amy’s been waiting all season for a bare-legged Chisox game, and now that we got one she’s slipped into a box seat behind their on-deck circle for some closer looks. That girl is just plain strange.

K.C., who wiped out Texas on Thursday and Minnesota on Friday, jumps all over Wilbur Wood with four runs in the 3rd, helped by a Cowens run-scoring double and singles from Brett, Wathan, and Patek. Willie Wilson, filling in for Otis today against Dal Canton in the 6th, triples in White, then gets singled in himself by Brett to make it 7-2, Leonard retires eleven in a row heading to the last of the 9th, and Chicago is three outs away from death and I’m wondering which limb of mine is next to go.

But Zisk singles, Orta rips a double, Essian singles home two and Littell is summoned. Patek boots a grounder, Spencer singles the bases filled and when Joe Zdeb drops a Kessinger pop to left, two more runs are home and it’s suddenly 7-6! Second and third, nobody out! Nothing comes easy for Littell, but he’s used to this. Garr skies out to Wilson, spencer too slow to score. Lemon whiffs. Oscar Gamble is due up but Herzog puts him on to face Zisk, already with a double and single.

Zisk grounds to short to end it, and the White Sox are gone from the race. They gave it their all and played in many thrillers, but leaky pitching and a waterfall of horrible defense did them in.

Meantime, with my left leg now missing, Mikey and Dr. Sheila have to help me out of the park. It’s a two block walk to the el train, but suddenly Amy is waving us over to a hidden subway stairwell we hadn’t noticed on our way in. A weird glow can be seen at the bottom of a humming escalator.

“What the hell’s this?” asks Sherman, “I thought we catch the elevated train!”

“Screw it,” says Amy, and she hurries down the escalator. The rest of us follow, even though no one else on the street seems to be using the entrance.

We reach the subway platform and stop. A shiny, customized two-car train is waiting for us, Funkyland Zipline painted on the side. Its doors wide open. Delirious, we step in. It’s everything we hoped the Funkyland bus would be, and much, much more: reclining leather seats that fold out into beds, air conditioning, a 60-inch hi-def screen tuned to extra innings of the Rangers game in Minnesota, fully stocked refrigerator and food cabinets, jacuzzi tub in the roman-sized bathroom.

The doors close, we find seats and a pleasant male voice comes over the speaker, a voice that sounds a bit familiar. “Next stop…Houston…”

“What??” Sherman blurts. “Since when is there a subway from Chicago to Houston??” The train hums, vibrates slightly, and shoots into the dark tunnel at warp speed. We’re pinned to our seats a few seconds before the pressure evens out. And then we notice a glowing white light coming from the front car.

“Whoa!” says Amy, “I gotta see who’s driving this thing”. She stands, takes one step to the forward door and it slides open. For a moment we’re blinded by the light, and when we regain our vision, see an old friend standing there, mirrored sunglasses still on, but now with chalk-colored hair and a dazzling white leisure suit with giant lapels.

“Seamus?” I cry.

“No,” he says, “Seamus has been..shall we say…reimagined. Call me Seamus the White.”

K.C. 104 002 000 – 7 10 3
CHI 100 100 004 – 6 7 1

The Lester Line (two days worth)

ROYALS 10-16-1, at TWINS 2-10-4
Yes, one day earlier K.C. basically finished off the Twins, too. A Frank White error helps give Minnesota a 2-0 lead in the 2nd, but like all great players, White makes up for it quick. First he whacks a solo homer leading off the 3rd, then clears the bases with a triple in the 4th, then singles in two more in the 5th for his sixth RBI and the Royals flatten the Twins for Marty Pattin from there. Minnesota had a nice resurgence lately, but their swan song has been downright ugly.

at INDIANS 5-8-2, YANKEES 0-4-0
And while we’re on the subject of ugly, how about the day the supposed eastern “powers” have? In the first two innings alone, the Yanks blow two rallies and lose Jackson and Piniella to injuries in the process. And today’s mediocrity to mesmerize their bats is Wayne Garland.

at ORIOLES 2-12-0, RED SOX 0-5-0
This could have easily been a 7-0 Birds win, if not for the scores of abandoned runners and DP balls. Luckily, Palmer decides not to suck and hurls his third shutout of the year.

at PHILLIES 5-7-3, PIRATES 4-8-0
The Candy Man takes a 3-2 lead to the 7th and promptly melts. Boone doubles with one out, McCarver bats for Lonborg and singles, and mighty-mite Ted Sizemore lines a 3-run homer for the winning runs. Philly tries their best to drive their fans insane in the 9th, as Boone and Hutton errors put the winning runs on base with two out, but Garber gets Parker on a grounder to end it and drop the lead to four and a half.

at CUBS 4-5-2, ASTROS 2-6-0
Biitner a 3-run shot in the 1st off Lemongello, and Rick Reuschel with the CG. Not much else to say.

at CARDS 5-13-1, DODGERS 1-8-0
Even less to say. Tommy John is beyond hideous (6 IP, 12 H) and L.A. puts everyone but Soupy Sales on base and can only score one bloody run off John Urrea. Simmons ruins another Dodger day with a double and 2-run homer.

RANGERS 6-12-5, at TWINS 5-8-2 (13 innings)
And now I’m in a darn wheelchair, folks, because the Twins are also gone from the race. But they sure go out like gangbusters. Down 2-0 to Alexander in the last of the 9th, Glenn Borgmann smashes a 2-run pinch homer to tie the game. Texas scores three times off Tom Johnson in the 10th, but the Twins battle back again and score three of their own to stay alive. A Dave May double and Beniquez single in the 13th finally does them in, and despite Carew’s constant flirtation with the .400 mark (he’s at .401 right now), the brittle Minnesota pitching and lack of power outside Hisle spelled trouble for them from the opening week.

at ORIOLES 4-6-0, YANKEES 1-7-0
Flanagan wins his fourth straight and five of six, while Don Gullett once again suffers the tortures of the damned. New York’s answer to Tom Shopay is September acquisition Dave Kingman, complete with a 1-column of almost nothing but homers. Naturally, he goes 0-for-4, while Gullett is tagged for a 1st inning blast by, yup, Tom Shopay, then coughs up three more in the 8th because he’s fed up waiting around for his lineup to do something. Gullett has now given up 16 homers for the year, a quarter of them to Tom Shopay. Oh yeah, and Cliff Johnson goes out for a week and a half, just because.

INDIANS 11-18-1, at RED SOX 10-15-1
Rick Wise is the latest Boston cannon fodder, 12 hits and 7 runs allowed in his four-plus innings. Boston makes it fun by coming back twice, including a Fisk single, Yaz homer, Rice single and Evans double with two gone in the 9th off Kern, but Rick Miller, subbing for Lynn, grounds out to keep Cleveland’s tragic number at two.

at ASTROS 5-13-0, CARDS 4-12-1
Also stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive are hustlin’ ‘Stros, eeking out another tight battle with the Cards, winning it in runoff fashion on a Cruz single and Howe double off Schultz in the 9th. Houston walks nine Cards, including seven by Bo McLaughlin, but St. Loo strands 14 and can’t get any big hits after getting nothing but them against L.A.

at CUBS 9-21-3, DODGERS 8-13-1 (10 innings)
Speaking of the Slew Crew, they do it again, losing another in a never-ending series of incredibly winnable games following a Pirates defeat. This time Doug Rau gives up three-run homers to Steve Swisher in two straight innings, is yanked off the mound behind 8-3, the Dodgers battle back with five in the 8th to tie, Garvey and other creeps fail to to knock in the go-ahead run, before Charlie Hough hands over the car keys with a wretched three-inning performance, walking four and giving up singles to Sutter and DeJesus and an Ontiveros double, and I don’t think I’ve ever written so many run-on sentences when describing painful action.

at PHILLIES 3-9-1, PIRATES 1-4-2
Whoa boy. Two straight Phillie wins cuts the Buc lead to just one in the loss column, and tomorrow Steve Carlton gets a crack at their injury-riddled lineup. Reed throws the CG here, while Schmidt (triple), and Maddox (triple and homer) provide the extra-base punch. Philly gets injuries to Boone (8 games) and Sizemore (5 games), but with their bench, it shouldn’t be much of an issue.

REDS 2-7-2, at EXPOS 1-11-0
Another minimalist painting. Rogers has a 1-0 lead on Seaver thanks to an icky Driessen error in the 3rd, but Cincy finally wakes up in the 8th, cobbling a Morgan double, Foster single and Bench double for the tight win, Seaver’s 19th, and boosts the Reds into a third place tie with L.A.

American League through Saturday, September 6

Kansas City 78 61 .561
Texas 75 62 .547 2
New York 73 64 .533 4
Boston 70 65 .519 6
Baltimore 71 68 .511 7
Cleveland 63 75 .457 14.5
Minnesota 61 77 .442 16.5
Chicago 59 78 .431 18

National League through Saturday, September 6

Pittsburgh 80 59 .576
Philadelphia 76 60 .559 2.5
Los Angeles 75 62 .547 4
Cincinnati 75 62 .547 4
St. Louis 73 65 .529 6.5
Houston 63 74 .460 16
Montreal 54 84 .391 25.5
Chicago 53 83 .390 25.5


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2 responses to “Midwest Shrinkage Day

  1. The shorts…I’m wondering if all the head-first slides we have now date to having to try to hook-slide in those abominations?

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