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Big League Stew

Whistling Wrigley winds play tricks on Cubs and Reds

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

You never know what you're going to get from day-to-day, sometimes even inning-to-inning, at Wrigley Field. For awhile the wind might be blowing in, knocking everything down and making life pleasant for pitchers. The next thing you know it's blowing out and every ball in the air has a chance to land on Waveland or Sheffield. It's as unpredictable as the rebuilding Chicago Cubs' place in the standings this season was predictable.

And then you have a day like Friday, where the wind is actually whistling in from the north at 24 mph, creating such havoc for the defenders on the field that every ball in the air is a recipe for everything ranging from runs to humor to potential injury.

Here's a little sample of the windblown chaos we saw on Friday afternoon:

Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker has seen his share of crazy wind games managing four years at Wrigley Field and also at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Despite those past experiences, even he seemed a little bit surprised and even amused by the dancing baseballs created by Friday's crazy conditions.

"There was a popup near second base that ended up 30 rows up in the stands [behind our dugout]," said manager Dusty Baker. "And then on the [double] that [Welington Castillo] hit [in the sixth], [right fielder Xavier Paul] was doing the Salsa and Meringue and La Cucaracha and everything else. That was a tough day out there."

A tough day indeed, right up until the Reds unleashed their wind-proof weapon known as Aroldis Chapman. Chapman was able to preserve the Reds' 10-8 win with a four-out save — three via the strikeout — which snapped their season-high five-game losing streak.

Of course, the Cubs had their own struggles on Friday, but theirs were more their own doing than the wind's. By the time the seventh inning rolled around, they had already committed five errors, none of which could be directly blamed on Mother Nature. That's not to mention Starlin Castro's base running blunder that resulted from Brandon Phillips' excellent fake-out.

''Not the prettiest game we've played all year, that's for sure,'' Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. ''I don't attribute it to anything. We've played pretty good defense all season long. Sometimes those things happen.''

According to Stats LLC, it's the Cubs worst defensive game since committing six errors in a 9-8 over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sept. 12, 2006. So it really wasn't a pretty game by any stretch or from any angle. But for all the runs, errors, chaos and the 344 pitches thrown, at least they managed to keep it under four hours (3 hours, 56 minutes).

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