Perhaps never before have the good and bad rolled together into the package that is St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Chris Duncan been more evident than in game one of the Chicago Cubs series on Thursday afternoon.
In the initial inning with a runner on first, Duncan, positioned in left field almost on the track, had a long way to run in on a pop fly to short left by Kosuke Fukudome. Khalil Greene, running out from his shortstop position, tried to make the catch with his back to the infield. As Duncan peeled off, the ball bounced off Greene’s glove.
Alfonso Soriano, the runner ahead of Fukudome, scored the Cubs’ first run of the game later in the inning. What was originally correctly called an error was changed by the scorer to a home-field double. FOX Sports Midwest color man Al Hrabosky asserted that Duncan should have gotten to that ball. Gotta’ agree.
In the fourth, Duncan demonstrated his considerable power when blasting a two-run home run into the screen just over the right-field wall at the 368 foot mark off Cubs left-handed starter Sean Marshall. The pair of runs broke a 1-1 tie.
Next time up in the sixth, Duncan reached base again on a 3-2 single past second. On an apparent hit-and-run with Greene, Duncan was left unprotected. While he was thrown out at second base, Duncan’s slide was an excellent one, off to the outfield side with only his left hand reachable. Unfortunately later in the at-bat, Greene untied the game with what could have been a two-run home run.
With the game again tied, a runner on base and no outs in the sixth, Duncan flat out dropped an easy fly ball to left as it clunked off his glove. For whatever reason, ever since having been converted to the outfield, Duncan has been allowed to try to catch the ball with his glove hand only. Why this has never been corrected continues to amaze me. It almost bit him and the Cardinals once again.
Making matters worse, after picking up the ball, Duncan did a complete spin and fired the ball toward Brendan Ryan covering second base. The runner was likely safe even before Duncan attempted the throw.
Though the ball appeared slightly off line and the runner was standing on second, Ryan seemed glued to the bag. The throw eluded him for the second error on the play, allowing the runners to move up. Amazingly, Cards starter Adam Wainwright escaped what would become a bases-loaded jam with no runs allowed.
In the top of the next inning, the seventh, the offense rewarded Wainwright with the go-ahead run scoring on Yadier Molina’s single. Duncan gave the Cards a two-run cushion with another 3-2 single up the middle against lefty reliever Neal Cotts, brought in specifically to face him.
Duncan then left the game in favor of Skip Schumaker taking over defensively in left via a double switch with pitcher Kyle McClellan relieving Wainwright.
Good and Bad Duncan
His tally on the day: Duncan extended his hitting streak to ten games with three safeties including a home run, three RBI, a run scored, a strikeout, a caught stealing along with what should have been two fielding errors and a questionable throw.
The bottom line: A 7-4 Cardinals victory at Wrigley Field.
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