The corner of St. Patrick and Gilmore in Montreal is a dumping ground for empty paint cans , batteries, dry wall and whatever else might cause the earth to disintegrate. There’s no space for giant oil spills, but it’s the thought that counts or the journey to get there because the walls of streets leading to the dumpsters are covered with graffiti.
It’s rare to witness Graffiti In Progress. Is that what GIF stands for? Well, yesterday was one of those days for me. It was a life size mural of Montreal Canadians goaltender Carey Price being painted and the timing was perfect. Price allowed 7 goals in the Canadians playoff opener against the New York Rangers Saturday. Some spontaneous outpouring of fanatical support?
It was perfect timing for a Brewer’s fan as well. Marco Estrada was slated to face the Cubs at Wrigley Field and Estrada is a painter, but not Picasso or Rembrandt or Roy Halladay. Just some welfare for the common man. He throws 89 mph and squeezes as much juice out of nothing as an elderly Chinese lady does to a chicken.
He relies on precision and control and one of the best change ups in the league. I’ve probably said this 100 times, but I can’t stop because speed and radar guns are all the hype these days and here’s this guy who throws slower than some high school pitchers and he’s still making his way in the big leagues. He’s the Ichiro in a time of synthetic home runs. When Estrada is right, he can be unhittable.
But the wind was blowing out at Wrigley Sunday afternoon and Estrada and his change-up inspire hitters to be out in front of pitches and hit lots of fly balls. He’s been missing his spots over the last three starts; falling behind in the count and grooving pitches into the hitters zone. Those fly balls have turned into home runs. On the season, he’s served up 12 dingers in only 54 innings.
It’s painful, but fun to remember another windy day in Chicago. On May 17, 1979 the Phillies and Cubs scored 45 runs and Cubs fans tragically mumbled, “Yeh, we scored 22 runs and still lost the game 23-22. Dave Kingman hit three wind-blown blasts that day.
It was more than Estrada Sunday. The Cubs starter Travis Wood is also a fly ball pitcher. But Wrigley is also the place where another Wood….Kerry Wood struck out 20 Houston Astros and maybe pitched the greatest game in baseball history. On May 6, 1998 in only his 5th major league start, Wood one hit the Astros and struck out 20. So anything is possible at Wrigley; from north pole igloos to tropical heat. Greatest place on earth to watch baseball. I think so.
Cub’s catcher Wellington Castillo hit a 2-run homer in the second. Mike Olt hit a solo blast in the bottom of the fourth. The Cubs were leading 4-0 until Rickie Weeks hit a 2-run missile in the fifth. There were plenty of fly balls and the wind remained constant, but no more scoring. Olt did hit another deep drive, but it was caught at the wall. He’s a rare bird that Mike Olt. He has 9 home runs this year, but only 18 hits; a .176 batting average.
Reminds me of the Brewer’s Mark Reynolds who hit 32 long balls in 2010, but only 99 hits. I like the wind. It always brings something new. Final score; Cubs 4 Brewers 2. Cubs win only their second series of the season.
The Brewers are 27-17.