Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Cubs Debacle Avoided In Houston

Forced to use today's starter during an 18-inning marathon yesterday against the Houston Astros, the Chicago Cubs delved into the furthest reaches of their forty-man roster and extracted Ryan O'Malley. Facing the Astros in the shoebox that is Minute Maid Park made this game, O'Malley's major league debut, more likely to be a human sacrifice than a ball game.

After three innings, O'Malley looked to be the luckiest pitcher ever to take the mound. He had given up no runs, but had allowed three walks and two hits. Not a reassuring ratio, since the first time through the lineup a new pitcher has a distinct advantage. I fully expected him to be gone by the fourth, as the Astros batters got a feel for his stuff.

But amazingly, O'Malley pitched 8 shutout innings, leading the Cubs to a 1-0 victory and giving the bullpen some much needed rest. His line was somewhat unimpressive -- 8 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 6 BB, 2 SO -- but he won. I wouldn't expect a repeat: that many baserunners and so few strike outs usually indicates a pitcher who doesn't quite have what it takes for the majors. But for today, he managed to win, and a dismal day was avoided.

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