W - Billingsley (1-0)
L - Zambrano (0-1)
Things to Take from This Game
1. Alex Gonzalez Redux
Second inning with Ethier on first, the dodgers put on a hit and run. Loney hits the ball to shortstop. But with Theriot covering the bag, he's out of position, can't make the barehand stop of the chopper. Ruled a hit. Correctly. Two batters later, DeWitt hits a potential inning-ending double-play ball right at DeRosa, but it pops out of his glove, and everyone's safe with a run scoring on the play. Lee makes an error on the next play, a chopper right at him hit by Blake, loading the bases. A Furcal bunt and a Martin bases-clearing double to the left-center Gap, and the Cubs found themselves down 5-0 going into the bottom of the second. A particular shame as Z had looked really focused, sharp, pitching quickly, with an awesome fastball, only to have his defense betray him and then give up a legit double.
- Ramirez also made a lame error a couple innings later. No damage was done, save to our pride.
- And Theriot gives the Cubs infield the Defensive Anti-Cycle, an error by each infielder, when he throws one away in the ninth.
2. Manny Ramirez Redux
Manny hit a gargantuan home run. He's good.
3. Ah, screwit.
Cotts and Marmol struggled, the Cubs got through 2/9ths of a 9-run comeback in the bottom of the ninth, other things probably happened to.
The "we have not yet begun to fight!" "No, really... we haven't yet begun to fight...." details, below.
|SP||Chad Billingsley||SP||Carlos Zambrano|
|16-10, 3.14, 201 K, 80 BB, 200.2 IP||2008||14-6, 3.91, 130 K, 72 BB, 188.2 IP|
|0-0, 0.00, 3 K, 0 BB, 2 IP||Post||0-1, 4.37, 20 K, 6 BB, 22.2 IP|
|SS||#Rafael Furcal||LF||Alfonso Soriano|
|C||Russell Martin||SS||Ryan Theriot|
|LF||Manny Ramirez||1B||Derrek Lee|
|RF||*Andre Ethier||3B||Aramis Ramirez|
|1B||*James Loney||2B||Mark DeRosa|
|CF||Matt Kemp||CF||*Jim Edmonds|
|2B||*Blake DeWitt||C||Geovany Soto|
|3B||Casey Blake||RF||*Kosuke Fukudome|
|P||Chad Billingsley||P||#Carlos Zambrano|
It has taken a good 21 hours of self pity and a bracing White Sox defeat to clear my head and even let me think about previewing Game Two.
Yes, last night went down harsh, but from reading Rob's post and many of the ensuing comments earlier this afternoon, it is clear that there are still some optimistic souls in Cubdom. All I can say is, God bless you all.
Starters' Records Since 8/1/08
|| No-Hitters Thrown
Billingsley pitched twice against the Cubs this season. On both occasions, he matched up with Ryan Dempster. Once, Billingsley threw well (7 K, 2 ER in 6 IP); the other time, he threw not as well. The Cubs won both contests.
Among Cub hitters, only Jim Edmonds has more than 10 career plate appearances against the 23-year-old Billingsley, though Fukudome, Lee, and DeRosa have all tagged him for homers.
It's not that I have any good reason to be, losing the first game of a five game series seems to be pretty close to a death sentence. I believe the stat being bandied about is 24 of 28 NLDS Game 1 winners have gone on to win the series, although it' s only 14-14 for the ALDS (that's what I heard on XM this morning). Now, I have no idea why the disparity between two leagues and there's really no logical explanation on why the designated hitter would make a difference, so I'll chalk it up to just one of those statistical oddities that litter baseball's history. Nonetheless, circumstances don't favor the Cubs to win this series.
As for why I think the Cubs are still going to, you should all know that I still believe in the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. Okay, that's silly, everyone knows it's just your parents sneaking into your room with a quarter for your incisors. I mean, what kind of rationale being collects teeth? And I have yet to meet a bunny that lays eggs. But no one has still given me a good explanation on how that Atari 2600 showed up for Christmas when I was five, so I'm sticking with the man in the red suit.
As for this series, in the theater of my mind, I saw the Cubs dropping Game 1 and that's why I picked them to win it in four. I just didn't like the match-up of Lowe vs. Dempster. Lowe seems to have had great success against us, especially in Wrigley, and despite the extremely impressive season Dempster had, he's still too walk-happy for my tastes. It's not that I even think it was the wrong decision to start him in Game 1, because other than a healthy Rich Harden, I wouldn't have liked any match-up against Derek Lowe in Game 1.
Things to Take from This Game
1. Cubs out to an early lead
2. Dempster's wildness catches up to him
The worrisome details, below...
|SP||Ryan Dempster||SP||Derek Lowe|
|17-6, 2.96, 187 K,76 BB, 206.2 IP||(2008)
||14-11, 3.24, 147 K, 45 BB, 211 IP|
|(Playoffs)||5-4, 3.34, 43 K, 23 BB, 67.1 IP|
|LF||Alfonso Soirano||SS||#Rafael Furcal|
|RF||*Kosuke Fukudome||C||Russell Martin|
|1B||Derrek Lee||LF||Manny Ramirez|
|3B||Aramis Ramirez||RF||*Andre Ethier|
|C||Geovany Soto||1B||*James Loney|
|CF||*Jim Edmonds||CF||Matt Kemp|
|2B||Mark DeRosa||2B||*Blake DeWitt|
|SS||Ryan Theriot||C||Casey Blake|
|P||Ryan Dempster||P||Derek Lowe|
The calender page flips to October and the Cubs are in the unfamiliar position of being the favorites. Well maybe not the favorites to win it all, I think that honor belongs to the Angels or Red Sox, but certainly the team to beat in the National League. TBS will wax poetic about curses and goats and I'll set the over/under line on a Bartman clip at top of the third. And I'll roll my eyes with each and every mention.
But here we are, on the cusp of the playoffs with a Cubs team that is as good as many of us have ever seen; on the heels of a season that exceeded even the loftiest of expectations. Is this the team to break the drought? I don't know, but I sure do believe it is.
As for today's game...
Here is this year's Ex-Cub Factor update:
Philadelphia Phillies: 3 -- Scott Eyre, Jamie Moyer, Matt Stairs
Milwaukee Brewers: 1 -- Jason Kendall
Chicago Cubs: None
Los Angeles Dodgers: 3 -- Nomar Garciaparra, Greg Maddux, Juan Pierre
Chicago White Sox: None
Tampa Bay Rays: 1 -- Cliff Floyd
Boston Red Sox: None
Los Angeles Angels Etc.: 2 -- Gary Matthews Jr., Justin Speier
When no clear answer presents itself, go with the most obvious..
Cubs over Dodgers in 4
Phils over Brewers in 3
Angels over Red Sox in 5
Rays over White Sox in 5
Cubs over Phils in 6
Angels over Rays in 7
Cubs over Angels in 5
Let's finish the preview and see what the Cubs pitching can do against the Dodgers bats.
Dodgers Offense vs. Cubs Pitching and Defense
Dodgers Hitting: .264/.333/.399 .732 OPS(11th in OPS), 126 SB's at a 75% success rate (3rd and 5th respectively)
Cubs Pitching: .242/.316/.395 .711 OPS, 3.87 ERA (1st in BA, 3rd in ERA, , 2nd in the rest,)
Dodgers Hitting vs. Right Handers: .260/.326/.390 .716 OPS
Dodgers Hitting vs. Leftt Handers: .275/.350/.419 .769 OPS
Cubs Pitching vs. Right Handers: .237/.302/.385 .687 OPS
Cubs Pitching vs. Left Handers: .249/.336/.409 .745 OPS
Dodgers are 53-57 when a right-handed pitchers starts the game, 31-21 when a left-handers starts.
Cubs Defense: .706 DER (1st in NL), .832 RZR (6th in the NL)
Brad Boyer put the Giants on the scoreboard with a solo home run in the bottom of the 6th and the Cubs were held to just three singles, as the Giants shutout the Cubs 2-0 in AZ Instructional League action at Indian School Park Field #2 in Scottsdale this afternoon.
RHP Billy Petrick, hampered by shoulder weakness since the start of Spring Training and on the Daytona Cubs DL since the end of May, got the start for the Cubs today, and he looked OK. He was removed with one out in the bottom of the 2nd inning after throwing 20 pitches (15 strikes), during which time he allowed one hit (a harmless single) and no walks, with one strikeout, a pop-up, and two ground outs.