Our Very Own Jekyll and Hyde

Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

It’s not a new analogy, but it plugged in again on fatal levels last night at Minute Maid Park. The Chicago Cubs jumped on Astros No. 2 starter Wandy Rodriquez for five runs after two were out in the top of the first inning to start the evening baseball feast by turning the table back on top of their Houston hosts from the very start. Mr. Hyde has made his appearance a one-inning shot at the top.

The Cubs already had scored two runs with two outs when Jeff Baker of the Cubs lashed a two-out, opposite field double to right to score runners from first and second. Catcher Geovanny Soto then walked to bring up left fielder Alfonso Soriano, who was only 2 for 26 in his previous tries against Wandy with no homers.

After whipping his way to an 0-2 count on Soriano, Wandy decided to challenge his man with a fast one and it was quickly bye-bye baseball. A towering home run to left now put the Cubs on top to stay at 5-0.

Wandy then settled into his Dr. Jekyll goodness mode by shutting out the Cubs in innings 2 through 5, but, by then, the damage was done to the then still goose-egged Astros as they flailed away at the hard-to-hit offerings of their Cubs nemesis pitching foe, Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano was aiming for his 14th career win over the Astros in the rubber game of the three-date series in Houston and he would get it before this long and monstrous performance was completed.

Zambrano also advanced his own cause further by blasting his MLB-pitcher best 22nd career home run in the top of the 6th off Astros reliever Fernando Abad to extend the Cubs lead to 6-0. For his sake, it was good he did. In the bottom of the 6th, Zambrano gave up 5 runs to the Astros before he was lifted with one away and spared further damage.

5-6 would be as high as the vine went for the Astros on this monster night. Wilton Lopez came in to defend in the top of the 9th and promptly gave up three more runs, enough to seal a 9-5 Astros victory.

Once again, the Astros lose because of failed pitching. And look, I’m sorry to pile on Wandy so hard. I think we all know he did not want to have that first inning, but we ought to be free to look at what it means beyond “every good pitcher has a bad night once in a while.”

I’m no pitching coach, but I have been watching baseball for a very long time, long enough to see certain trends with some pitchers that may help to say something about why “Mr. Hyde” shows up sometimes – and, maybe, just long enough to cause the loss of  a game.

Wandy seems to be one of those good pitchers who comes close to being confounding to batters and almost impossible to hit when his focus and ability are working together. Unfortunately, he also seems to be one of those good pitchers who momentarily loses his concentration on what he’s doing every now and then. (Maybe all pitchers do, but with less disastrous results.) That 0-2 pitch to Soriano in the 1st is a good example of inattention leading to disaster. Instead of playing with Soriano to go for an unhittable pitch out of the zone, Wandy grooves one and it results in a hole that runs too deep for full recovery, even with nine innings of batting to go for the Astros.

I’d be very interested in your own observations on Wandy’s “letdown” problem. It’s not as though the club has a better choice at this time, but, my gosh, it’s very hard to improve a club’s standing with one or more Mr. Hydes taking the mound every fifth day. These guys don’t have to be bad for a whole game to cause a loss. They just have to have an inning like Wandy’s first in the final game of the now lost Cubs series.

 

 

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2 Responses to “Our Very Own Jekyll and Hyde”

  1. Darrell Pittman Says:

    I wish Arnsberg could figure it out and get it corrected.

    Wandy did pretty well to pitch his way out of that bases-loaded no-out jam in the third, getting Soriano to hit into the double play, then fanning Colvin.

    But, he got himself into the jam with three singles in a row.

  2. bay area colocation Says:

    I’d have to verify with you here. Which isn’t something I normally do! I enjoy studying a put up that will make folks think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

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