Wayne reflects on a wonderful, wet day at Wrigley Field.
April 13, 2009, 6:57 PM
By: Wayne Drehs
Former Cubs catcher Jody Davis chats with Wayne Drehs.
It started just before 3 a.m., when the Chicago Police Department received a call that a dead goat had been hung from the Harry Caray statue outside Wrigley Field. It ended some 15 hours later, when Cubs closer Kevin Gregg struck out a trio of Rockies to preserve a 4-0 victory.
In between, Kosuke Fukudome continued to show flashes of his April 2008 self, Derrek Lee picked up his first multihit game of the season, Alfonso Soriano pushed his average over .300 and Ted Lilly carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning.
Welcome to Opening Day in Chicago, a bitterly cold, mist-filled affair that seemed to have something for everyone.
"It was quite the day out there today," catcher Koyie Hill said afterward. "I think the fans who braved the elements really had a good time."
How could they not? Especially those who liked pitching. Lilly cruised through 6 2/3 innings of no-hit, one-walk ball until Garrett Atkins smacked a base hit to left field in the seventh.
It was a far different Lilly from the one who surrendered eight hits and five earned runs in five innings against Houston last week, despite the elements.
"That's Ted," Hill said. "He's always up for the challenge. It could be snowing, sleeting, he could have been pitching on the top of Mount Everest and he would have been game. He's just such a competitor."
Hill said he was well aware that Lilly was closing in on a no-no, at one point changing his mind when he thought about taking off the stocking cap he had been using to keep his head warm under his helmet.
"I didn't want to mess anything up," he said.
Lilly, who carried a no-hitter into the seventh for the third time in his past five regular-season starts, said it was a slider that Atkins hit.
"It wasn't as late and as sharp as I would have liked," Lilly said. "But he put a good swing on it."
The Cubs' offense drew its fifth bases-loaded walk in its past three games and continued to find ways to score runs without its best lineup. Geovany Soto, Milton Bradley and Aramis Ramirez all missed Monday's game with various bumps and bruises, prompting manager Lou Piniella to put Fukudome in the No. 3 hole. Fukudome, all but booed out of town after last year's second-half collapse, responded by going 1-for-2 with three walks. He has hit .417 so far this season.
So what should we make of the Cubs at this point of the season? It's obviously too early to draw any grand conclusions, but the results can't be argued with. Despite the struggles of the bullpen, despite the shoulder injury to Soto, despite Lee's getting only his second extra-base hit today, the team is 5-2.
"I think we're looking pretty good right now," Gregg said.
That they are. And as for the dead goat, Chicago Police said it has no suspects. And no surveillance cameras were able to determine what happened. After Monday's win, Piniella had his own thoughts on the second dead goat to find itself attached to the Harry Caray statue since 2007.
"Poor Harry Caray," Piniella said. "Why in the world would people do something like that? I know I wouldn't find that too amusing."
Wayne Drehs has been a feature writer for ESPN for nine years. He can be reached by e-mail.