Wilson Ramos missed a sign in the seventh inning on Wednesday, hitting away while Michael Morse sprinted down the third base line on a called squeeze play. Ramos realized what was happening just in time, fouled off the pitch, then walked up the third base line to consult with third base coach Bo Porter. After taking the next pitch, Ramos got it right — laying down a perfect bunt to score Morse and secure yet another one run victory (a 5-4 win), their third in a row against the cratering Cubs.
Calling for a second squeeze after a blown first one is risky. Which is why Davey Johnson figured the Cubs wouldn’t be ready. “You look at the situation, and all the components actually work to our favor,” Porter said after the victory. “You have a guy who doesn’t run as well at the plate. You have a guy who doesn’t run that well at third base and you don’t really want to send him on contact. And in all of my years of baseball, I’ve always said this: Catchers are normally the best bunters.”
The Nationals win tied them with the New York Mets in the N.L. East and put them two games over .500. But three other story lines emerged on Wednesday: Ryan Zimmerman finally seemed to get on track (3-4, with two RBIs and his fourth homer), the Nats’ line-up busted out for 13 hits (Bernadina, Morse and Ramos had two each), and the Nationals’ bullpen once again came through in the late innings: Ryan Mattheus, Henry Rodriguez and Drew Storen combined to hold the Slugs to one hit and no runs — standard work for a unit that keeps the team in games and the Nats in the win column.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Cubbie fans are beside themselves with worry. Bleed Cubbie Blue points out that the North Side Drama Queens are 5-26 when they allow opponents to score in the first inning — which they have done in all three of their losses against the Nationals . . .
It seems the Cubs aren’t the only ones falling on hard times: Cubs blogs are falling by the wayside — Goatriders of the Apocalypse is a ghost of its former self and Cubs Blog Army is gone, which leaves (among others) Desipio . . . which maps out a proposed Cubs “fire sale.” According to the long-time Cubs’ blogger, the team would do well to cut the grass short, starting with Carlos Pena and ending with Reed Johnson. That means Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano, Geovany Soto, Sean Marshall and Kerry Wood would go . . .
Cubs’ G.M. Jim Hendry is feeling the pressure. Yesterday, MLB Radio’s Jim Bowden said that if he were Chicago’s owners he would keep Hendry, but get rid of everyone else. That sounds about right, but it would be costly, as getting rid of players (like, say, Zambrano) means having to pay a chunk of their salaries. And who exactly would take on the headache of “Big Z?” Cubs Insider reports that Hendry is being coy about a fire sale, saying the Cubs might be buyers and might be sellers. Yawn . . .
Hendry has tried to calm fan displeasure over Tyler Colvin, the heavy hitting outfield prospect who is waiting for the Cubs to decide that he (and not Kosuke Fukodome, and not Alfonso Soriano) is the future of the team. Colvin hit 20 home runs in 135 games last year, but was sent to Triple-A when he slumped this April. Colvin was once the next big thing in Chicago, but it’s hard to play him when you’re up to your neck in Alfonso’s contract (eight years, $136 million) . . .
In his place, the Cubs have added Tony Campana, a transparent effort to salve fans’ anger when Hendry traded Sam Fuld to Tampa in the Matt Garza deal — or maybe Hendry was given an offer he couldn’t refuse when the head of his prize thoroughbred ended up in his bed. No matter the reason, Hendry isn’t fooling anyone: Campana is built like Fuld, but he’s definitely not Fuld. Just think of it, an outfield of Fuld and Colvin and Marlon Byrd. Cubs fans are thinking of it, and (speaking of heads) are calling for Hendry’s . . .