It struck me as ironic Tuesday night that at a pivotal point late in a key game near the end of a season in which we heard so often about the Cubs' need to add a left-handed bat, it was a right-handed bat Lou Piniella needed, and that the best he could do was Henry Blanco.
Blanco, who came into last night's game with a batting average 13 points higher than his previous career high, delivered magnificently, driving in the insurance run that proved altogether necessary in the top of the ninth, when Kerry Wood tasted a blown save but ultimately spit it out and preserved the victory.
(Wednesday Morning Irony #2: Brian Shouse, the left-handed reliever who made Blanco's election necessary, was also at the center of Joe Sheehan's ringing, post-firing criticism of Ned Yost; the piece I linked to yesterday. For the record, as Sheehan said, Shouse is virtually unhittable by left-handed batters —.175 AVG, 481 OPS Against—but eminently hittable by righties like Blanco—.293 AVG, 817 OPS Against.)
Apart from keeping alive the possibility that the Cubs can clinch the NL Central by Thursday afternoon, Tuesday night's win was brilliant in several ways, including:
- How the Cubs allowed Prince Fielder to bang two home runs, thus leaving him arm-weary and unable to come through in the ninth inning
- How the Cubs cleverly synchronized the victory with a Phillies win and a Mets loss, thus allowing the much-hated Mets to tumble out of the NL East lead and right into the Wild Card scrum with the Brewers and Astros
Labels: Henry Blanco