Astros relief pitcher Jeff Fulchino reveals a ground hit ball by Chicago Cubs' Kosuke Fukudome that went into his jersey during the fifth inning of Tuesday's game. (AP Photo)
The strangest play during Tuesday night's slug-fest at Wrigley Field came in the fifth inning when Cubs leadoff hitter Kosuke Fukudome bounced a ball up the middle to Astros reliever Jeff Fulchino. The ball took an awkward hop and ricocheted off Fulchino's glove and into his jersey.
That's right ... the ball inexplicably found its way into his jersey.
With Fukudome streaking toward first base, Fulchino dug his hand into his jersey, but was unable to fish it out because the ball had wound its way around to his side. Not quite sure how to react, he threw his hands in the air -- a move akin to the motion outfielders make at Wrigley when a ball is lost in the ivy.
Fukudome was awarded first base, notching a hit on the play, and a laugh from Fulchino.
"I thought I had knocked it down," Fulchino said after the game. "I looked down and I was like, 'Where is it?' Then I felt it right over here to my side and I was like, 'You gotta be kidding me.' At that point there was nothing I could do so it was more frustration -- this is how my outing's going to start?"
The blooper would prove beneficial in the Cubs' comeback attempt, and set up the only bit of excitement for the 40,814 Cub fans in attendance. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez drove in Fukudome and Derrek Lee three batters later on a home run to left field to tie the game 6-6.
After the game, the right-handed UConn alum was still uncertain about what exactly happened.
"It cracked the button on my shirt and when it ricocheted off," Fulchino said, stopping mid-sentence. "I don't know how it got in there. What can you say?"
Cubs manager Lou Piniella was equally at a loss for words about the play.
"How about that one?" Piniella said. "Just when you think you've seen everything ..."
Incidentally, Fulchino notched his first career hit in the game -- a double to the left-field corner off Sean Marshall.
He was asked whether he thought he would always remember his first major league hit as the game where he got a ball stuck in his jersey.
"I think it'll be the other way around," Fulchino said. "I think I'll remember the game because the ball got stuck in my jersey and I happened to get a hit that game."