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.
But I like Zambrano going tonight on the blind assumption that his shoulder is 100%, hell I'd take 80%. And if he does pitch well tonight, I don't doubt that Lou will go with him in a Game 5 over Dempster if the series gets that far. The Dodgers do counter with one of my favorite young pitchers in baseball, Chad Billingsley, but for many of the reasons I didn't trust Dempster last night, I don't like the odds that Billingsley does much against the Cubs. It's his first postseason start, he's a bit too walk happy and he's a good 50 innings over his career max already. Now he had a solid September, but I've already mentioned how it was against some of the worst teams and offenses in the league.
Am I being overly optimistic? Probably, but heck, this is how I envisioned the series to be played out, a Game 1 loss followed by three straight Cubs wins. I could be proven wrong at any point over the next three games, but I'll keep believing until that happens.
As for last night, a few concerns, thoughts, general misery...
- Dempster certainly was wild, but that home plate umpire's erractic strike zone didn't help matters one bit. And that James Loney grand slam had to be one of the more, "I can't believe that just happened" moments I've witnessed as a Cubs fans. Dempster was all over the place already that inning having walked two in a row and the bases loaded and Loney comes up hacking on the first two pitches, two pitches that were out of the zone. I really thought the Cubs caught a break there and then Dempster leaves one up and Loney suddenly takes a good swing.
- While I'm normally no big fan of small ball, I mentioned in an earlier preview that it might be wise for the Cubs to try and put pressure on a mediocre Dodgers defense. In the 5th though, with a groundball specialist on the mound and "Double Play" Lee at the plate, Lou failed to send Fukudome from first and Lee hit into the inevitable rally killer. Now it probably wouldn't have mattered on that particular play as Lee hit it right up the middle, but it's concerning that Lou seemed content to wait for the big hit, rather than try and make some things happen when the opportunity presented itself.
Quick sidenote, how did they give Casey Blake an error on that ball that Fukudome reached on? Blake was playing in protecting for the bunt and Fukudome rocketed the ball off of him. That's a tough error call.
- Back to playing small ball, with the lead still just two runs in the sixth, Aramis Ramirez doubled. Soto was unable to advance him to third base, staring at two strikes over the outside corner before striking out. Concerning once again that the Cubs hitters didn't adapt to the situation that presented itself.
- Finally, the bullpen sure did nothing to ease our fears. Sean Marshall's outing was pretty decent and I just can't fault him for that home run to Manny Ramirez which Manny hit off his shoe tops. Yet he still gave up a run in what was still a very close game. And yeah, Samardzija got burned a bit by a bad defensive play by Edmonds, but still gave up a run. And there's no excuse for Marquis, he just kind of sucks. But 4.1 IP from the bullpen and three runs just isn't very reassuring.
- On a positive note, the Cubs already have as many extra base hits as they did in all of last year's Division Series.
- On an negative note, the Cubs have lost 7 post-season games in a row.
So there we have it, a LONG wait until Game 2 starts and let me tell you, casa de Rob G. was not a happy place last night after the Cubs and Angels games. it doesn't help that I'm surrounded by Dodgers fans at the office either. Hopefully the Cubs give me some ammunition to fight with after tonight.
UPDATE: Just to clarify that LDS stat that I heard this morning - by my count, the Wild Card started in 1995 which would mean 26 NLDS series. There also a division series round in 1981 because of the strike. As for random quirks that don't mean a thing, the four NL teams that overcame a first game defeat.
2003 Marlins - won World Series
2000 Mets - went to World Series
1999 Braves - went to World Series
1981 Dodgers - won World Series
Remarkably, all those teams played the Yankees in the World Series.
crunch 7 hours 27 min ago (view)
don't worry, i'm sure even though he was spared from cuts there's some hardship he's being tortured with that he has to unfairly overcome. #coreystrong #onthecross #yolo #swag #kony2012
crunch 7 hours 28 min ago (view)
there's no way a system like that or something similar to that would work.
"oh hi." - green bay packers
*shoves out of way*
like i said, there's no way that would work.
Hagsag 10 hours 24 min ago (view)
Corey Black still has a job.
Charlie 10 hours 32 min ago (view)
I am ready for MLB owners to give it a f***ing rest. I don't have any outrage to spare on them.
If they can't afford this crisis, maybe they can surrender franchise rights to the players, grounds crew, concession employees, etc., and MLB teams can be employee owned.
Dolorous Jon Lester 14 hours 46 min ago (view)
Couldn't have said it better myself, unfortunately.
JustSayin' 23 hours 14 min ago (view)
These players weren't cut/released; laid off is more like it. Fifty-two minor leaguers let go before any real games played, in two waves. The draft will be five rounds this year, not forty. This is industrial downsizing, anticipating no traditional season this year and capitulation to MLB demands for a much smaller minor league system in 2021. Next year or 2022 could also see a labor stoppage in the big leagues, over what promises to be a very tough CBA negotiation. The game will not be what it used to be after this.
crunch 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
i don't blame the ownership/font office for doing what they did with bryant. it was just kinda bad timing that bryant was the client that boras was finally "i'm sick of this" over. the cubs were warned that boras was going to make a stand and it dragged on so long there has to be some kind of toll on the boras/cubs relationship.
bigsky33 1 day 3 hours ago (view)
Hi Phil, yes, hoping for an extended AZ Fall League. Do you think there will be more cuts? De La Cruz was the only big sureprise to me. I thought he had some upside.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
It'll be more over when Kris leaves. Or whenever the same thing happens to another of his clients.
He isn't wrong though...
Arizona Phil 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
Presuming there is no traditional minor league season in 2020, expect an expanded Arizona Fall League (with potentially a new "Florida Fall League" as well) for the best prospects and expanded post-season instructs for other minor leaguers (all TBA).
Arizona Phil 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
My understanding is that the other two Cubs minor leaguers who are to be released are the two post-2019 Article XX-B MLB free-agents who signed 2020 minor league contracts, Brandon Morrow and Jason Kipnis. The Cubs will then supposedly re-sign them to new minor league contracts without the $100K retention bonus and 6/1 opt-out.
Arizona Phil 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
CRUNCH: Agreed. Not counting the "4-A" guys, Oscar de la Cruz is the one legit MLB prospect on the list.
crunch 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
aww...de la cruz had some decent looking spring outings (though late inning spring work isn't exactly challenging). the years of injuries insanely slowed his progression. totally wouldn't mind seeing him return in 2021 if the team would still be on his radar after getting cut at a time like this.
crunch 1 day 6 hours ago (view)
that whole "kris bryant thing" is over...but it's never going to be over as long as this ownership group and boras is around.
boras could have focused this on 29 other teams, especially the more vocal ones because the cubs have been mostly silent. the cubs aren't the only team out there paying off "creatively financed" loans, either.
he chose the cubs.
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 12 hours ago (view)
Not looking forward to seeing that list. Hate to see it when a guy you've invested any sort of energy in is given up on.
Cubster 1 day 12 hours ago (view)
Chi Tribune today. Boras picks, and focused on the Ricketts.
Headline writer, fun job: Agent won’t let Cubs get away Scott-free Matt York/AP and Paul Sullivan.
Boras told his players “the game can not be played without you” and asked them to share the concept with teammates and opposing players when “MLB requests further concessions or deferral of salaries” during negotiations.