The big 3-Oh

Our bulldog lefty Ted Lilly just beat out a grounder to second that was bobbled by Milwaukee second baseman Rickie Weeks. You look at Lilly and it’s almost amusing. He’s not a big guy, but he plays big. As a pitcher, digging hard and beating out that grounder is a scrappy play. He’s one serious dude.

Lilly.jpg****By the sixth today, with two outs, he just issued his first walk. That’s a perfect game through 5.2 innings and 71 pitches. And I haven’t mentioned the other thing….He just struck out Bill Hall to preserve you-know-what through six. It’ll be interesting to see if Lou lets Ted go much farther past 75. Yesterday Ryan Dempster was on a 75-pitch count.****

In a way Ted reminds me of Tanner Boyle from the “Bad News Bears.” OK, that’s not just because he threw his mitt down last year after giving up that gopher ball to Chris Young in Game 2 of the NLDS. He approaches the game like that–like a scrappy bulldog. (This is ironic since it was a bulldog’s mouth in which he stuck his left hand several years ago. The dog had attacked his dog, so to save her, Lilly wrenched the bulldog’s jaws open.)

He’s not blessed with vast athletic gifts–but he makes the most of what he has. You can see him running every day with Ryan Dempster. For starting pitchers, that’s good. Running is the best way to flush the body of toxins that build up in the body after a start. One day I caught Ted just after one of those runs.

“How far do you guys usually go?” I asked.

“Not too far. We run around the neighborhood a little bit then down past Navy Pier and back.”

“Every day.”

“Almost. Wanna go with us?” he inquired. He wasn’t joking.

“I’ll bring my bike.” We laughed.

Lilly takes his hitting seriously, too. His face always has a worried look, but when he laced a double to right earlier in the game, a small smile finally came to his face.

***Lilly just gave up his first hit and one batter later Lou took him out. His last two starts at Miller Park: 13.1 innings 1 ER, 3 hits and 13K’s.


–Mike Huang

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