A look at what is to come tonight
It's been a strange trip since the regular season ended. We've seen the steadiest Cubs pitcher this season fall apart on the mound. Then, the next night, we saw a steady-but-not-fantastic Cubs defense fall apart on the infield. We've seen Kosuke Fukudome perform a wind dance - actually, repeated wind dances - and we watched Carlos Zambrano give his second-best performance in the past month, only for it to be a pummeling. What we haven't seen is a Cubs victory.
We've also seen Cub fans declare it a Dodger victory after that first game's defeat. The next night, we had people telling us that we'd have to be insane not to believe in the goat curse. We've read stories about people crying, we've felt waves of frustration coming out of the Shout Box, and we've seen me quit multiple readers from reading this blog on at least two occasions. What we haven't seen is the Cubs offense come alive.
I don't know what will happen tonight. If you were being impartial, you would realize that you don't know, either. At the most, maybe you have a really good idea about what is to come.
Here's what I do know. I'll share it with you now:
- The Dodgers are so ridiculously over-matched on the mound tonight that there has to be some degree of worry there.
- Torre has stupidly used his #4 pitcher in relief in this series, and at this point I don't think anybody knows who would start Game 4 for the Dodgers.
- The Cubs are a much better team than what they've shown us so far.
- Anybody who truly and completely gives up before it's actually decided gets put on my list. Trust me, it's not a pleasant place to be.
I know it's bleak. I know that this team just might be broken. What I don't know is how much pressure they have tonight. I mean, the expectations are gone, aren't they? Isn't this just a long 9th inning for them? Teams score garbage runs in that kind of scenario. The Cubs just might do that.
Anyway, I've decided that I won't be blogcasting tonight. It's too late, I get too tired, and if the Cubs start losing I'll feel too depressed. But I will be around, I will create an open thread, and I'm sure there will be plenty of action in the shoutbox. There may even be a few f-bombs lobbed about.
But before I go right now, I'm going to offer up a scenario to you. It's probably been on the back of a lot of peoples' minds, but maybe they've been afraid to say it. But - in case you haven't heard - I don't believe in jinxes.
The Cubs are going to win tonight. Here's what it's going to look like:
Rich Harden is going to pitch tonight, and he's going to throw well. He will go 6-7 innings, walking no more than 3, and he's going to strike out 10 Dodgers - including Manny twice.
The Cubs offense is going to start out sluggish, but they're going to tack on a run here and a run there until the middle innings, where something big will happen. They won't score 10 tonight, in fact I wouldn't be surprised if Kerry Wood was called on to record his first playoff save, but the Cubs are going to put up a comfortable number of runs before Torre turns to the Dodger pen.
After Harden leaves the game, there will be a few concerning moments. The Cubs pen will look a little shaky. Maybe Lou will turn to Bob Howry for some insane reason, I don't know. But the Dodgers will nibble at the edges a little bit, putting up a run - or 2 - in the 7th and 8th innings.
Kerry Wood will come to the mound in the 9th nursing the most fragile 2 or 3 run lead that we've ever encountered. He will either hit or walk the first batter he faces. And then, with the Cub Fan Nation collectively forming what can only be described as a massive stress turd, Wood will escape the inning and the Cubs will have notched their first playoff win since 2003.
Oh, and in case you're wondering, if/when that happens, Ted Lilly will own them in Game 4. Believe me, that dude is still pissed about what happened last October. He's itching for the chance. And as far as Game 5 goes ... well, Ryan Dempster is pretty hard to beat at Wrigley Field, even when there are faint indications that he's pitching with a dry mouth and urine trickling down his leg.
Will it happen that way? How the hell would I know? But can it happen that way?
You better believe it. Go Cubs.