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Rockies' stance: 'Conditions' favored Cubs
By Lindsey Willhite | Daily Herald Staff

The Wrigley Field grounds crew pushes excess water toward drains in left field to prepare for the Cubs' home opener against the Colorado Rockies after a rain delay Monday afternoon.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 4/13/2009 8:50 PM | Updated: 4/13/2009 8:50 PM

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Since 2005, Rockies outfielder Ryan Spilborghs has played all of his home games in either Denver or Colorado Springs.

So when the fifth-year veteran declared the Cubs' home opener on Monday to be one of the "top five" worst weather experiences of his career, then that meant a little something.

But Spilborghs' take on the damp, windy, foggy and near-freezing conditions at Wrigley Field while four Cubs spun a 1-hit shutout - complete with seven "backward Ks" among Colorado's 12 strikeouts - meant a couple of different things.

"If you were a Cubs pitcher, you had really good conditions today," Spilborghs said. "That's about it. (Ted Lilly) had optimal conditions for the day."

In other words, he tipped his cap to the Cubs starter for allowing just one baserunner until Garrett Atkins' single with two outs in the seventh ended his no-hit bid - and just maybe offered a subtle, sidelong tip to home-plate umpire Andy Fletcher.

While none of the Rockies blamed Fletcher for the loss (catcher Chris Iannetta joined the chorus of those who didn't care to rehash balls and strikes), it's fair to say some peeked at the team's laptops to replay the locations of some called third strikes.

"Guys that normally don't argue were arguing some called third strikes," said Rockies manager Clint Hurdle. "You never get the perfect angle from where I'm watching. As far as the questionable calls, you're always going to have those in a game. We didn't seem to have many of them go our way today."

The Rockies, who set up their laptops on a makeshift table in the tunnel between the first-base dugout and the clubhouse stairs, didn't just use them to review pitches.

After first-base umpire Tim McClelland flagged Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez for a balk in the fourth - a call that helped the Cubs scratch out their third run - pitching coach Bob Apodaca checked the video after the half-inning.

Before Lilly could throw his first pitch in the fifth, Apodaca relayed his findings and Hurdle engaged McClelland in a philosophical discussion that led to his ejection.

"(Apodaca) came back and he said, 'He didn't do anything. There's nothing,' " Hurdle said. "So the conversation just started innocently.

"Timmy looked in the dugout and I just pointed at my eyes and said, 'Take a look at it after the game.' From then on, it just went sideways. I looked at it when I got back up here (in the clubhouse). He didn't balk. Bottom-line."

One more bottom-line proclamation from Hurdle, this time in regards to Lilly?

"This guy pounded the zone," he said. "No, we're not making excuses. He came right after us. Threw strikes. Good stuff. That's the best I've seen him."