10/14/2003 11:49 PM ET
Matchup: Power vs. RHPs and wind
CHICAGO -- Remember when grandpa used to tell you stories about the old days? How he had to walk to school? Through two feet of snow, with no shoes? Uphill -- both ways? Grandpa would have felt right at home if he were a right-handed power hitter at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night.
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
The wind blew in and to right field, though it eased up a bit as the evening went on. If this one had started at 4 p.m. CT, it might have been a 1-0 game. Still, it was damp. It was chilly. It was not a fun night to be a hitter of any kind, but especially a right-handed one. That was compounded by pitchers Mark Prior and Carl Pavano, a pair of guys who don't yield a lot of big shots to righty hitters.
Prior is at least arguably the nastiest right-hander in the National League. Right-handers don't hit him when it's warm and the wind is blowing out. Pavano is no Prior but is tough to take deep. He yielded 19 homers in 201 innings on the year.
So it was no surprise that Cubs manager Dusty Baker played for one run early. After Kenny Lofton singled, Baker had Mark Grudzielanek sacrifice. Sammy Sosa drove Lofton home, staking Prior to what looked like an insurmountable one-run lead. Prior was dealing.
"This kid's unbelievable," said Moises Alou. "Coming in the ballpark today, myself and the rest of the team were very confident about our chances of winning the game because we had him."
The Cubs had the only legitimate or semi-legitimate left-handed power threat in either starting lineup: Randall Simon, but Simon was held in check.
Once Prior was staked to a lead of more than a run, he came directly at hitters more. All three Florida outs in the seventh were fly balls to the outfield. But in the end, it was a bizarre sequence of defensive plays, and some well-timed singles and doubles, that turned the game.
"I wasn't pitching against Mark Prior," Pavano said. "My focus was I'm pitching against the Cubs. I'm well aware of what he brings to the table, but I have confidence and faith in our lineup. We can take on the best pitchers and we showed that tonight.
"The first inning my main focus is to get us started on the right note. I was disappointed in myself that I let up a run. You start in a deficit with a guy that's going to come out and bring his best game, and everyone's aware of that. But the outcome was definitely in our favor."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.