Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Dodgers

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Series Preview - Chicago Cubs vs Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers v. Cubs
Dodgers v. Cubs
Overview

So, did I miss anything yesterday while I was at work?  Anything?

How'd Carlos do?  Anyone?

I kid, of course.  Obviously Carlos went The Full Crazy, delivering a ball throw, glove slam, and Gatorade assault before heading to the showers.  As Uncle Milton put it, "that was on a Bradley level".  Smiley Face.

My guess?  He remembers 2007 and, since Lou seems to be sleeping through 2009, decided to take the Cubs revitalization on himself.  And since Geo's too nice a guy to punch...

But I don't feel like talking about the Cubs.  How about some fun facts regarding the Dodgers

  • Russell Martin is struggling through the early season, posting a meager .702 OPS.  Send that boy down!! (Sorry Rob, but I cannot resist)
  • So, some people thought the Cubs should sign Orlando Hudson to play second for us.  I was all, no no, we have Fontenot.  We don't need Hudson.  Hudson is current hitting .349.  Fontenot is...not.  Too bad for all you Hendry always listens to me.
  • Who else is kind of pissed that Juan Pierre is hitting almost .400?  Jerkface.  Well, if Pierre still has a .422 BABIP (career .319) by the end of the season...well, I'll still think he's a jerk for sucking up all of 2006.  Jerk.
  • Want a Juan Pierre fun fact?  He lead the league in steals twice.  Nice.  He also lead the league in caught stealing 5 times.  Hmmm.
  • Juan Castro has taken a break from ruling Cuba with an iron fist to hit .400 in a reserve roll for Los Angeles.  Should have kept the beard, though.
  • Jonathan Broxton: 35 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched.  Moderately impressive.
  • Will Ohman: 5.11 ERA.  Less impressive.

Yep, the Dodgers are really, really good. 

The Matchups

Friday, May 28th - Randy Wolf vs. Randy Wells

Randy Wolf has never been a particularly good pitcher, but he's earned his low ERA this year.  With 50 strikeouts against 19 walks, Wolf is controlling things pretty well.  That being said, he's allowed an unusually low .247 BABIP.  That should change at some point (hey!  how about today!). 


You know what's weird about Wolf?  He's been better on the road that at home.  Not your standard Dodgers' pitcher, that Wolf.

But you know what?  I don't care how good the Dodgers are or how good Wolf has been.  Wells deserves to finally get a win and today's as good a day as any.  LET'S DO IT!

Saturday, May 29th - Chad Billingsley vs. Ted Lilly

I seem to remember The Chad being pretty good against the Cubs in the playoffs.  Because of that, I choose not to like him.  You want an amazing stat?  Billingsley has allow 0.1 homers per 9 innings.  And that's not even far off his career numbers.  Billingsley does, however, have mediocre control and so a patient Cub team could make somewhat difficult for him. 

Billingsley is also WAY better on the road than at home.  When did Dodger Stadium become Arlington West.  Er, west-er.

Lilly wasn't particularly good in his last outing, but he's still a beast and we love him.  Plus, he's a fearless defender of his teammates against forces of evil (the umpires).  Here's hoping the wind's blowing in.  He deserves a little help.


Sunday, May 30th - Eric Stults vs. Ryan Dempster


Eric Stolts?  ERIC STOLTS?!?  I LOVED YOU IN "ROB ROY'!!! 

...wait, what?  Oh.  A pitcher?  Really?  Well, that does sort of change things.  I guess Stolts is a decent enough pitcher.  My favorite stat?  A 6+ ERA on the road.  Welcome to Wrigley, Lance.

But what about Ryan?  Well, Ryan was terrible in his last start.  He took the first decent offensive performance by the Cubs in OVER A WEEK and wizzed all over it.  Damn you, Ryan.  Ryan comes into today's action with a 4.99 ERA.  That's bad.

Monday, May 31st - Eric Milton vs. Sean Marshall

Milton's off to a pretty decent start, but we're talking about a guy who's twice lead the in homers allowed.  And in case it's not clear, Eric Milton is not, in fact, Fergie Jenkins.  Here's hoping the wind is blowing out.

Marshall has been a beast all year for the Cubs.  And by "beast", I mean "steady, solid performer."  He broke the Cubs losing streak with a complete game*, one run outing and will be there today to clinch the Cubs' 6th win in a row.

Conclusion

...yep, that's right.  I said 6th in a row.

SWEEP!!!

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NLDS Game Three Blogcast

12:11 A.M. - Good night.

12:09 A.M. - Fukudome grounds to short. Soriano is up.

12:07 A.M. - Theriot down on strikes. Fukudome up.

12:03 A.M. - Neil Cotts makes me look like a hater. Dodgers down in order, it's the top of the ninth now. Three outs til winter. Please, please, please let it be miracle time.

12:02 A.M. - According to Tony Gwynn, the Dodgers are "getting their hack on."

11:57 P.M. - Why is Neil Cotts pitching?

11:54 P.M. - DeRo strikes out. Middle of 8th, Cubs 1, Dodgers 3. Three outs remain in the imminent season.

11:52 P.M. - Apparently it is spelled Broxton. Anyhow, Ronny Cedeno runs for Ward and steals second.

11:49 P.M. - And we're on the board! Ward hits a shallow pop fly that falls in, Lee scores, DeRosa's coming to the plate, but Torre goes to the bullpen. Jonathan Brockston is the new pitcher for the Dodgers.

11:45 P.M. - Aramis strikes out, Geo pops out. It's up to Daryl Ward. He swings and misses (badly) at the first pitch.

11:41 P.M. - Derrek Lee doubles to lead off the 8th. Earlier, the commentators were talking about the defeated body language of the club. Most of the batters were sitting, dejected, on the bench. Lee was the only one standing at the railing watching the game.

11:37 P.M. - Manny Ramirez is retired for the first time today. Marmol is pitching well. It's the top of the eighth, the Cubs have six outs to score 3 runs or the season is caput. I'm not ready for that yet. Can it please be miracle time now?

11:34 P.M. - Furcal is retired for the first time today. Not for the first time, I wish the Cubs had been successful in signing him.

11:26 P.M. - Theriot and Fukudome reach against Kuroda, so Torre brings in Corey Wade. Soriano swings at the first pitch and flies harmlessly to left field. Somewhere Chuck discharges a weapon in a furious rage. Passed ball and Theriot moves to third. 2 outs in the seventh with two on for Mikey Fontenot. (I've pegged Mike as the Craig Counsell of the 2008 Cubs playoff run. It turns around here.) But it doesn't as Kemp catches the ball hit 390 feet to center. Damn! (In the backround, James Blunt keeps crooning about how hollow he is.)

11:18 P.M. - Lou double switched. Marmol is pitching, Fukudome replaces Edmonds in center. Marmol induces Casey Blake to ground out to short. DeWitt advances to third but is stranded there when Marmol K's Kuroda. Dodgers 3, Cubs 0. 3 innings remain. It's crunch time. I'm listening to James Blunt to help the tears start flowing.

11:09 P.M. - Blake DeWitt doubles off the right field wall. Mark DeRosa very nearly came too close to the wall, but made a nifty jumping barehanded grab of the ball off the wall to limit the damage to a double. Lou pulls Marshall for Marmol.

10:59 P.M. - Ron Darling says. "It seems like every pitch the Cubs hitters take is right down the middle and they're swinging at the ones off the plate." Tony Gwynn, Hall of fame hitter, concurs.

10:53 P.M. - Fangraphs has a Cubs loss as 90% probable. Link.

10:50 P.M. - Gawd! Furcal scores from first on a Russell Martin double. Theriot fumbles the cutoff so no play at the plate. Manny is intentionally passed again and Lou has gone to Marshall in the pen. Now, I'm just confused about Verducci's statement on Dempster. Dodgers 3, Cubs 0. Harden lasted 13 outs. Ouch.

10:47 P.M. - Verducci reports that Dempster is an option in the pen. This essentially confirms that Piniella is thinking about Z as the game 5 starter. I'm completely in favor of this development. Who would you rather have pitching today, Sean Marshall or Ryan Dempster?

10:43 P.M. - Soriano, Fontenot, and Lee down in order. Fontenot's flyout was well struck, otherwise, not much. My thoughts are that this game is playing out much the way I expect game two would have played out if the Cubs infield could have caught the ball.

10:38 P.M. - Tom Verducci reports that Mike Fontenot is not 100% and that Fukudome has been told to get ready in case he is needed.

10:32 P.M. - The Blogcast is now wearing a rally cap. Latest posts will be at the top. Well, my miracle didn't materialize as Rich Harden struck out, but he did come up with a 1, 2, 3 inning. He's thrown 70 pitches through 4 innings. At this point, I think we'll be fortunate to get six from Harden, and possibly fewer as I can't see Lou letting him bat in another important situation.

10:20 P.M. - Edmonds grounds out to the right side, advancing Geo to third with only one out... but DeRosa swings at the first pitch and grounds out to third, not scoring Geo. The Dodgers elect to walk Theriot and face Rich Harden instead. Come on... we need a miracle!

10:18 P.M. - Geo doubles, none out!

10:16 P.M. - Whew! First, Fontenot stays in the game. Second, Russell Martin pops up harmlessly to Geo. Then, Lou intentionally passes Manny like a Kidney stone. Andre Ethier scares the easily frightened portion of Cubdom with a warning track flyball that advances Furcal and Manny to Third and Second respectively. Then, after a brief discussion, Harden pitches to James Loney who also flies out and the third inning is in the books. Dodgers 2, Cubs 0. Harden at 54 pitches. We'll be lucky to get six out of him. Geo doubles, none out!

10:03 P.M. - This isn't looking so great. Ramirez bounced out to end the third, and Harden gave up a leadoff single to Rafael Furcal. After an attempted pickoff went wide, Furcal advanced to second and Mike Fontenot hurt himself. Six errors for the Cubs in three games, sayeth Dick Stockton.

9:53 P.M. - Harden grounds out, Soriano dribbles one to the mound as is easily retired... and Mike Fontenot takes a two strike sinker into center field for a single. Lee sees a few pitches and Derrek hits one through the left side hole. 2 men on, 2 out, Ramirez with a chance to change the momentum in this game.

9:46 P.M. - Dodgers go down 1, 2, 3 in the bottom of the second. Harden seems to have settled down and the hard contact went away this inning. Both pitchers are right below 30 pitches so far.

9:37 P.M. - Cubs go down 1, 2, 3 in the top of the second. 21 outs left in the season unless we turn it around.

9:27 P.M. - James Loney doubles, Russell Martin and Manny Ramirez scores. The Dodgers lead 2-0 and Rich Harden seems to be throwing BP.

9:21 P.M. - Suddenly I was watching Titanic, but I'm over on TBS now. Tom Verducci reports that Larry Rothschild extended Rich Harden a little longer in warm-ups so that he would start the game at max velocity. Not sure that it did any good as Russell Martin doubled and went to third on Manny's single. With the replay, I'm pretty sure the ump blew the call at third.

9:17 P.M. - After Aramis walks, Geo grounds out. No runs scored, but Kuroda threw 17 pitches to get through the 1st.

9:11 P.M. - Derrek Lee doubles, the bats will not be silenced tonight.

9:05 P.M. - Welcome, Colin. And for those previously watching Titanic on TNT, we now cut in with the Dodgers vs. Cubs game. Thanks Chilango for the tip.

9:03 P.M. - And of course the Brewers-Phillies game starts to get real interesting. How inconvenient. --CW

8:53 P.M. - 14 Minutes to go, and I finally googled that song on the Friday Night Lights commercial. Here's a YouTube of the song. It's called Devil Town.

8:29 P.M. - 38 Minutes to game time, but the Phils and Brewers are only in the 7th. It's touch and go whether TBS will cut away to LA for the first pitch.

Note: If you're looking for the new content.  It's now at the top of the blog.  Just a friendly note.  - KJE

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.

NLDS Game Two Blogcast

8:18PM Central - It's almost gametime and we're getting ready by watching the VP debate.  I'll be doing another gamecast tonight, let's hope that we'll have a little more luck and, most important, let's keep our fingers crossed about Carlos Zambrano.

Now, I know some of us are nervous.  I know that some of us have given up already.  Some of us are distancing ourselves from the team - I dunno, maybe we're trying to avoid getting hurt.  All I know is that this is a complete team, with incredibly deep pitching, and being down 1 game or not, this is the best chance we've had to win a Series in my lifetime.

As we enter into this game, I'm going to ask one thing and one thing only - no matter how good or bad it gets, let's try to stay civil.  And let's go Cubs ... it's a huge game.  I'm excited to see what happens.

8:36PM Central - The idiot broadcasters note that the ballpark is a lot louder tonight.  I can't help but wonder if the organization sold tickets primarily to corporations and other non-traditional game attenders, but more real fans are there tonight.  Hopefully these guys will be energetic and won't turn on the team at the first sign of distress - assuming there will be distress tonight.  The next update will be after the Dodgers are set down.

8:42PM Central - Carlos has velocity and movement on his pitches.  The first pitch he threw to Manny was 97 MPH and it broke in on Man-Ram's ankles.  Manny tried to argue balls and strikes with the umpire - never a good sign for the first inning of a playoff game.

As nerve-wracking as Dempster had us with his erratic control, Carlos had a - dare I say it - easy first inning.  Big sigh of relief from the Cub Fan Nation.  Hmm.  "Cub Fan Nation."  That'd be a cool blog name.

8:54PM Central - Good news - Soriano got on to lead off the game and advanced to second on a passed ball, but the Cubs 2-4 hitters failed to capitalize.  Billingsly is a little more erratic than Carlos so far.  The Cubs were a patient team in the regular season, and more importantly, they got some huge production from their 5-8 hitters.  Just pointing it out.

End of the 1st - Cubs 0, Dodgers 0

9:04PM Central - Blame Theriot for this one.  He never would've had the runner headed to second, but he seemed confused by the play and speared the ball with his hand rather than his glove.  Colin might remind us of his Theriot Concerns, but I seriously question Cedeno's clutch play, defensively or offensively.

A run scores then on a DeRosa bobble.  Panic, again.  At this point I am comfortable saying that the Cubs are pressured and pressing - except maybe for Carlos, who doesn't look bad despite the early failures of his defense.

And then Derrek screws up a play.  This is flat out ridiculous.

9:10PM Central - LA is on a roll now.  Carlos looks pissed, but in this case it's not really DeRosa's fault, Furcal is fast and he bunted.  Regardless, Carlos is getting killed right now - how much of this is his fault?  He gave up a big hit, a 3 run double to Russ Martin, but how many of those runners should have been on base?

I am not stressed out by this game.  I'm pissed off.  This is a ridiculous situation and the Cubs have nobody to blame but themselves.  Theriot, DeRosa, and Lee all owe Carlos an apology - and later tonight, they may owe the entire city of Chicago one, as well.

They better work reaaaal hard to make it up to us in the next 8 innings.

End of the Top of the 2nd - Dodgers 5, Cubs 0

9:19PM Central - 1-2-3 inning.  Nothing to report.  The Cubs need to cease momentum very soon.

C. is sitting next to me, saying "I can't believe I'm so anxious and you're not."  But why would I be anxious?  I'm pissed.  This is effing idiotic.

9:26PM Central - That was fast.  Apparently when he doesn't rely on groundballs to his infield, Carlos is pretty tough to hit.

I'm still steamed, folks.  I'm sure you are too.  Players at that stage who make that money should be able to do their job.  That means fielding routine groundballs and making what should be easy outs.  This would be a 0-0 game if not for middle and corner infielders playing with the weight of the world on their shoulders.

End of the Top of the 3rd - Dodgers 5, Cubs 0

9:36PM Central - After Fukudome tries to fall over while striking out - seriously, you're supposed to be a professional hitter, do you need to watch some tape, Kosuke? - Carlos draws his first walk in over a year.  The Fonz then flies out weakly and Ryan Theriot grounds out to short.  He looked REALLY confused after the ground out because the ball was actually FIELDED.

End of the 3rd - Dodgers 5, Cubs 0

9:46PM Central - Carlos gets the first 2 outs with ease.  I was starting to think that he was intentionally keeping the ball away from his field untrustworthy infielders... I don't think one has gone to them since they bobbled balls.  Then, Aramis joins in and bobbles what should've been a third out.  But this time, Carlos escapes without having to pay for his teammates mistakes.

End of the Top of the 4th - Dodgers 5, Cubs 0

9:54PM Central - C. is going to bed.  She missed Derrek break up a double play with the last three fingers on his right hand, although it happened before long anyway.

In the regular season, I would feel absolute confidence that, even this late in a game, the Cubs could come back from the deficit they're in.  In the post season ... eh.  I don't really see it happening.  But I could be wrong; somebody really needs to make a big play, be it plowing into someone, or hitting a homerun, or hustling their ass off in a key situation.  That's my opinion, I could be wrong.

End of the 4th - Dodgers 5, Cubs 0

10:02PM Central - Manny hit another homerun to extend their lead.  The Cubs made all 3 outs on the infield.  I'm tired.  I bet the Cubs score 1 run this game, in the 9th.

End of the top of the 5th - Dodgers 6, Cubs 0

10:09PM Central - Edmonds hits a long ball that lands in a glove off the ivy, and the Cubs go down quietly again.

I'm running out of energy, but I'll stick through this until the end.  The bitter, horrible end.  I wish I was drinking.

10:20PM Central - Goat Reader Sayers40 says, "Everyone thought we needed a big performance from Z tonight.  We got on and it still doesn't matter."  Very true.

Carlos had a horrible, terrible second inning, but only because his defenders failed to capitalize on ground balls.  The only real mistake I have to give him is the solo shot to Ramirez.  But at this point, the Cubs offense is dejected, and I don't see them doing jack against the Dodgers tonight.

I said yesterday that I'm no fan of Cub Fan Pollyannas, nor am I a fan of Cub Fan Nietzsches.  I am realistic.  Realistically, it would take a miracle to win tonight's game - and an even greater one to win this series.  Maybe Jon Miller was right.  Maybe the Dodgers were the team we didn't want to play.

End of the Top of the 6th - Dodgers 6, Cubs 0

10:27PM Central - At this point, I'm more interested in the results of the debate.  I'm shocked to see that Carlos reached the 7th before he hit 100 pitches, considering that he tossed 28 in the 2nd.

Oh, btw, the Cubs failed to do anything in the 6th.  As Bayma notes, it's been 12 innings of futility.

End of the 6th - Dodgers 6, Cubs 0

10:32PM Central - After 7.1 innings, Carlos has been pulled for Neal Cotts.  The Moose looks morose in the dugout.  I really don't blame him.  This has been a total failure on the part of the Cubs lineup - defensive mistakes, an inability to capitalize, sometimes I think that the Cubs need a douche or something after every season to keep the team fresh with players who aren't burdened by the ridiculous pressure to win.

10:41 Central - Cotts comes in, struggles, and gives up a run after the Cubs infield shockingly fails to complete a double play.  It's now 7 to nil and I am over this crap.

End of the top of the 7th - Dodgers 7, Cubs 0

10:56PM Central - Hey!  Didja see that!  The Cubs scored a run!  In a game without errors, they're down 2-1 right now!  w00t!

End of the 7th - Dodgers 7, Cubs 1

11:03PM Central - The Dodgers took back their run and then some.  Jim Edmonds took a spill, and it's a serious blow out.

I'm really, really over this.  It's midnight here and I'm just torturing myself by watching this crap.

End of the Top of the 8th - Dodgers 9, Cubs 1

11:13PM Central - I have the feeling that the city of Chicago will be grouchy tomorrow.  I can't say that I blame them.

The Cubs are apparently trying to end this ugly game quickly.  There isn't much of a spark in the game tonight.

I have a feeling, however, that they will win on Saturday.  Why do I feel that way?  Because they've almost certainly - keyword, almost - lost this series.  The pressure's off.

End of the 8th - Dodgers 9, Cubs 1

11:22PM Central - Denton says, "anybody who doesn't believe there is a real curse right now is insane."  Yeah, Denton.  There's a curse.  There are mystical, evil powers in the world, and they focus on things like baseball.  If there were such things as curses, and it was as easy as yelling up into the sky after being denied entrance to a ballgame, then everybody would be cursed all the time and we'd all be in a hell of a mess.

Speaking of messes, Theriot completed the circle.  A throwing error gives one to every Cubs infielder.  Lovely.  The Dodgers score again.  I guess it's easier to blame a goat than the mentality of the guys who are playing, who have obviously collapsed under the ridiculous pressure that they're under.

Blame blame blame, Denton.  If anybody is responsible, it's the players.  I know, it's a shocking idea.

End of the Top of the 9th - Dodgers 10, Cubs 1

Once the pressure was off, the Cubs managed to score some runs in the 9th.  Doubles by Lee and DeRosa, cushioning a Ramirez single, finally - finally - made it seem as though the Cubs could actually produce.

The Dodgers turned to Broxton, who promptly walked Felix Pie on 5 pitches before getting the first out of the inning by forcing Soto into hitting a sharp liner to second.  Broxton then struck out Fukudome looking on, quite frankly, a pitch outside of the strike zone, although Kosuke should probably have swung defensively.

And then, to add insult to injury, Broxton struck out Ward on a pitch that was both low and inside.

A game recap will come in the morning.  But for those of you who are wondering, I'll be taking a somewhat more lax approach to anybody who preaches doom and gloom, if only because the odds of a 3 game comeback are very, very thin.

NLDS Game One Blogcast

 

5:31PM Central Time - Welcome to the first entry of tonight's blogcast!  They just started the feed of the broadcast, consisting of Tony Gwynn, Ron Darling, and whichever schmuck that other guy is.  It took That Other Guy literally less than 10 seconds to remind us that the Cubs haven't won a World Series in 100 years.  I'll try to keep a tally of how often they bring it up tonight.  The next update will likely be after the top half of the 1st inning.

By the way - is it just me, or is Ryan Dempster living up to his Canadian heritage and growing a playoffs beard?

5:36PM Central - I lied.  "The Cubs won 5 of 7 games against the Dodgers and swept them in Chicago, but that was before Ramirez joined LA.  The Dodgers have a totally different lineup with Ramirez in there."  Uh, no brainiac.  The Dodgers have the same lineup, but with Manny Ramirez.  It's not totally different.

5:44PM Central - Dempster strikes out Furcal, walks Martin on a close pitch that could have been a third strike, and then induces the dangerous Manny Ramirez to ground into an inning-ending double play.  Goat Friend and KXNO broadcaster Jon Miller has noted all year long that Dempster is comfortable giving up the occasional walk due in part to his confidence in his stuff.

5:53PM Central - No thrills for the Cubs in this first inning.  So much for my dream of Chicago busting it wide open right away.  When C. saw Joe Torre, she said "I think that guy's in the mafia!"  She said this even before she knew that he used to manage the Yankees for more than a decade.

5:57PM Central - Annoying Guy notes that the Cubs and Dodgers have played each other 2,024 times and are tied in the standings ... as if it matters in this series.

Dempster allows a leadoff walk.  Stomach, a ball of nerves.

6:04PM Central - After allowing a leadoff walk, Dempster forces three pop flies to get out of the inning, no fuss no muss.  Is it just me, or are Cub fans quiet and tentative tonight?  I think that once the Cubs get their first lead of the series, Wrigley will get noisy.

6:10PM Central - DeRo is my hero!  I've been saying all along that the Cubs would have good odds of winning if DeRosa could continue to produce.  There are obviously still games to be played, but that's a great start.

Cubs 2, Dodgers 0.

Oh, and Lowe is now complaining about the umpire's strike zone.  Ahhh yes.  This is good.

6:14PM Central - With the 2nd inning over, the Cubs now have a 2 run lead.  After Dempster got on, I thought for a second that Soriano was going to bury Lowe.  I was sadly wrong.

End of 2nd inning, Cubs 2, Dodgers 0.

6:20PM Central - Bad tidings.  My "right way" method of play tells me that walking the pitcher is a big no-no.

6:22PM Central - After walking Lowe, and building an 0-2 count to Furcal, Dempster lost him on 4 balls.  Dempster needs a double play here, or risk facing Manny with... uh, many runners on.  Larry comes out to give him words of encouragement, mostly consisting of "WTF?!"

6:26PM  Central - Deep fly ball for out #2.  With 2 outs and Manny up, even with Dempster's control issues, I throw Manny nothing he can hit.  Never let their best hitter beat you.

6:31PM Central - Manny gets an infield hit to load the bases for Ethier.  With a 1-1 count, he hits a slow, scary foul ball that's mere feet away from equalizing the game.  Dempster with a full count, 31 pitches thrown already.  I have to think he's going to be good for 110-115, but he might be done after 5 the way he's going.  And a strike out!  Phew!  Poor Cub fans, this has got to be killing people!

If that just happened to the Cubs, my argument would be that they were now destined to lose.  Wasting a bases loaded opportunity with a pitcher who's struggling to throw strikes rarely results in wins.  Because the Cubs escaped the situation, I'm taking the "this is a scary game" approach and am worried that Dempster is a few bad pitches away from getting rocked.

End of the Top of the 3rd - Cubs 2, Dodgers 0

6:39PM Central - After Derrek Lee got on with only one out, his bad luck with the double play continues as Aramis grounds into one to end the inning.  I missed Fukudome's first out of the inning, as I went upstairs to take some calcium as I am battling leg and shoulder cramps tonight, oddly enough.

End of the 3rd - Cubs 2, Dodgers 0; heart attack victims so far: 12

After a Soriano Hop gets the first out, the second comes with ease before Dempster surrenders a bloop hit.  Still, this is a less stressful inning, as it ends with a harmless line-out.

End of the Top of the 4th - Cubs 2, Dodgers 0 - time to get some runs!

Geo Soto started the inning with a sharply hit lineout.  He's going to start getting hits soon enough.  Lowe then proceeds to strike out Edmonds, resulting in a DeRosa single without runners on. Apparently, Lowe is concerned that the guy with a bum leg will run on him, based on the throws to first.  No matter, Theriot singles as well, giving Dempster a rare opportunity to put the game out of reach with a 3 run homer.  C. says "bunting is stupid.  It should be disbanded."  I say, "It's not an organization, they can't disband it."  Alas, Dempster strikes out.

End of the 4th - Cubs 2, Dodgers 0

7:02PM Central - Dear Ryan Dempster, seriously, this walks crap has got to stop.  I know, it's the playoffs, and you're not used to being there, but c'mon!  You're killing me!  P.S. You can make it up to me by forcing Russell Martin into a double play.

P.P.S. 3-0.  STOP IT!  Bad Dempster!

7:05PM Central - Fine, we'll take a fly out.  C. again: "Doesn't he (Ramirez) realize he looks stupid with all that crap on his hat?"

As we gape at the crazy lady with the Cubs Santa hat (...I've got one), Dempster brings it to a full count.  The know-nothing broadcasters think that Dempster's problems are that he's been too excited, but they might have a point.  I may be wrong about Clownsevelt being just idiot enough to do well.  And he walks Ramirez, but I'm ok with that.  As I've said a million times - never let their best hitter beat you.  Ron Darling with the random line about how, if you work real hard, it just might pay off in October.  ...okaaaaay.

Dempster walks the bases loaded and Larry comes out to have words with the Wild One.  Dempster is now over 100 pitches, it doesn't look like he'll get past the 6th if he even gets out of the 5th.  Not cool.

7:14 - Grand Slam by Loney.  See you later, Ryan Dempster.

Not that I need to say this, but you can't give a team so many chances as Dempster's given the Dodgers.  I really thought he had the right mentality to be a game one starter ... here's to hoping that his next outing is a better one, but he's got to be feeling down about himself.

Marshall comes out to get the Cubs out of the inning.  Anybody else think Dempster should shave the beard?

7:20PM Central - Big breaking strikeout by Marshall to end that brutal 5th inning. Just one thing to keep you guys up, if you're up at all - the Cubs have a pretty good offense, too.

End of the Top of the 5th - Dodgers 4, Cubs 2

After a Soriano strikeout (to the boos of many), Fooky rocketed a ball off the shin of Casey Blake, giving D.Lee a chance to ground into a double play.  Which he promptly does.  Figures.

End of the 5th - Dodgers 4, Cubs 2

7:32 Central - So, here's the good news.  Marshall is an underrated reliever and despite the pecimism and negativity that is running rampant in Cub fans everywhere, this team is fully capable of coming from behind and winning.

Here's the bad news - if the Cubs don't grab a lead shortly, Lou is going to turn to Cotts and Howry and save Marmol and Samardzija for another night.

7:38 Central - After getting an out and then walking Lowe, Marshall buckled down and escaped.  Like I said, underrated.

Marquis - not Cotts nor Howry, but not any better, either - is warming up in the pen.  Lou is obviously saving his horses for another day, so if the Cubs want to optimize their chances of coming back, winning, and cementing their destiny, they're going to need to take it to Lowe this inning.

End fo the Top of the 6th - Dodgers 4, Cubs 2 - Lowe is at 80 pitches.  Considering how dangerous the Dodger pen is, they need to work him.

7:47PM Central - Minor problem.  The Cubs are taking the fastballs and swinging at the breaking pitches.  I'd like to see them be a little more aggressive but they need to stop sitting on the right pitches.

DeRo flies out to end the inning with A-Ram on third.  Time is running out, kids.  Marquis to the ... rescue?

End of the 6th - Dodgers 4, Cubs 2

7:54PM Central - Apparently Manny was really determined to hit a homerun.  Can't really blame Marshall for that one, it wasn't exactly a juicy pitch.

Dodgers 5, Cubs 2

7:58PM Central - Idiot Broadcaster Man says Marshall made a "mistake" to Ramirez, although I would argue that a breaking pitch hit at the batter's ankles doesn't really qualify.  Apart from the low-blow homer, Marshall had a good inning.  The Cubs are now 6 outs away from losing Game 1.

I realize nobody is really thinking of it like this, but let's look at this clinically: if the Cubs were going to lose this game because of the Grand Slam, then a Manny Ramirez homerun is essentially pointless.  Might as well let him hit it when it doesn't matter so much, right?

End of the Top of the 7th - Dodgers 5, Cubs 2, Drunken, Dejected Cub Fans: 455,093

8 Central - Idiot Announcer Man keeps talking about how quiet the ballpark is tonight, contrasting it with last night's celebration when the White Sox clinched.  The thing is, I don't think he's actually clever enough to be implying that the Sox are the better fans - I think he thinks that the city shares the teams equally.  He also just mentioned the 100 year drought again.

Sori, Fukki, and before them Theriot all fail to deliver.  Fontenot is left a sad participant on the basebaths.  Now, before people start jumping down the throat of the Fonz, I will remind you that he hit what would've been a World Series winning homer had the D-Backs not worked some magic a while back against Rivera.  His bat will come around.

End of the 7th - Dodgers 5, Cubs 2.  6 Outs to Go

8:14PM Central - Leadoff triple against the rookie Samardzija.  Idiot Announcer Guy, with the count 2-2, "Samardzija is struggling right now."  ...No, he's trying to keep the ball away from the batter.

Run scores.

Dodgers 6, Cubs 2.  Let them tack it on tonight.  Get 'em tomorrow.

8:19PM Central - Samardoenelokdana forces a double play and a deep, deeeeep pop out to end the inning. This game can't end fast enough for me.

Dodgers 6, Cubs 2.

8:23PM Central - It would be very unCub-like for somebody to hit a granny this inning.  I'm just pointing that out.

8:31PM Central - So, Derrek Lee hit what would've been another double play ball, had somebody been on base.  Aramis smacked a deep out to right field, and Geo Soto continued to go 0-for-the-game, but only because he drew a walk.  Jim Edmonds almost had a heroic moment, but was foiled by a foot of foul territory in left and the incoming wind in center.  If he didn't get so much air on it, that ball probably would have left the park.

I can really see how easy it would be to feel negatively right now.  I mean, cripes, this is exactly what we didn't want to happen.  In a series where momentum is essential, the Cubs have lost theirs tonight.  I'll save the commentary for the post-game, though.

End of the 8th inning, Dodgers 6, Cubs 2.

8:35PM Central - Big homer by Russ Martin.  Hey, I'll use the same mindset I would've used had this been the Cubs ripping apart the Dodgers - it always seems that when a team scores a ton of runs one night, they have trouble scoring anything the next night.  So, I say again: Dodgers, run it up.

Dodgers 7, Cubs 2

8:41PM Central - Marquis in mop-up surrenders a run and then escapes the inning.  Torre is now turning to ... Greg Maddux?

I take it back.  Go get 'em, Cubs.  Club the Mad Dog.

End of the Top of the 9th - Dodgers 7, Cubs 2

After DeRosa grounded out to start the 9th inning, Theriot hustled his way to first in a close call.  Had Greg actually managed to step on first, Theriot would probably have been out. Ward then grounded out to first, and with 2 outs the Fonz stepped up against The Old Man and popped out ... to first.  Seriously, I think Greg was toying with them.

Game over, a post game recap will come.

Dodgers 7, Cubs 2

NLDS Series Preview: Dodgers scouting report

This just in - the media is out to scare you, but don't buy into the hype.  Over at the Tribune's website, Caveman Journalist Phil Rogers tries to liven up the NLDS by giving the Dodgers the "intangibles" and predicting it will go to 5 games.  You can read it if you want, but I'll summarize for you here:

"I am just a simple caveman journalist.  Your world frightens and confuses me!  Sometimes when the phone rings, I think it is a vicious animal letting out a predatory snarl moments before it is to pounce on me.  But while I don't understand simple things like telephones, I do know this - the Dodgers have all the intangibles in this series and, while the Cubs may win, it will be no easy task!"

Meanwhile, if you mosey on over to ESPN, you will be greeted by the image of Manny Ramirez, mid swing, with the title "Upset Special?" beneath his hulking frame. And let's not forget about how, tomorrow night, it'll be All Curse All The Time on the networks.  In other words, they're trying to make us an anxious, nervous, ball of concern.

But here's the catch - it's all a cunning ruse.  They're trying to work you, folks.  ESPN knows - much as Phil Rogers knows - that the Cubs are heavily favored.  All of these guys know that the Cubs have the most complete team in all of baseball this year.  It's absolutely true that anything can happen in a short series, and I will certainly agree that the best team does not always win, but if you come across a media type who is legitimately proclaiming that the Dodgers will win, get his autograph.  He's trying to become famous.  (Goat Friends excluded.)  Instead, these guys are driving the hype machine because they want you worried, they want you watching, they are looking for ratings and web hits.

Don't believe me?  Let's do the second round of scouting reports for this upcoming series.  This time, it's the Dodgers, or as I prefer to call them, the Losing Team.

Again, I have seen nothing confirm the actual playoff roster, so this is a little bit of guesswork.

The Starting Rotation:

Derek Lowe - Game One Starter.  Strengths: Tremendous post season experience, including a ring.  Is 4-4 with a 3.34 ERA in the playoffs.  Had an incredible September, going 3-0 with a 0.59 ERA.  Is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA against the Cubs this season.  Weaknesses: Leggy reporters.  Has a tell when laboring on the mound - he looks as if he's constipated.  Road record: 5-6, 4.57 ERA.  Teams defeated in his September of Glory: Arizona (while in the midst of a 6 game losing streak that ultimately cost them a playoff appearance), San Diego (63-99), Pittsburgh (67-95), and San Francisco - twice (72-90).  We're pretty sure he could also take out a kung-fu class, if they were all children.  Is the first guy standing on the rails in front of the train of destiny.  Choo-choo!

Chad Billingsly - Game Two Starter.  Strengths: Good strikeout stuff.  Born in a town called Defiance, how cool is that?  Weaknesses: Record against the Cubs this year - 0-1, 4.91 ERA.  Record on the road this year - 6-6, 3.40 ERA.  Post season inexperience.  Jaegerbombs.

Hiroki Kuroda - Game Three Starter.  Strengths: Good command of pitches - he only allowed 42 walks in 183.1 innings of work.  Lots of experience in Japan, where he won 103 games, lost 89, and posted an ERA of 3.69.  Dominated the Cubs in 2 starts - went 1-1, but with a 0.59 ERA.  Weaknesses: ERA of 4.14 since the All Star Break.  Prone to bouts of drunkeness when encountering other Japanese players the night before games, as he is overly nostalgic and enjoys getting trashed and singing songs about the motherland*.  (Hint hint, Fukudome, take one for the team!)

(*No, wait, that's just me.  Never mind)

Greg Maddux - Game Four Starter.  Strengths: Hall of Fame pitcher, fantastic command, wicked sense of humor, very smelly farts.  Lots and lots of playoff experience.  Weaknesses: Is pretty damned old, and will get beaten like a drum by the Cubs if it goes to 4 games. Has an ERA of 5.03 since the All Star Break.

The Bullpen:

Takashi Saito - Closer, in theory.  Strengths: Warm smile, good sense of humor.  Great strikeout stuff.  Weaknesses: Old and prone - only threw 47 innings this year.  4.77 ERA in Sept - point of fact, he missed all of August and most of July, and may not get the nod to close.

Jonathan Broxton - The other Closer.  Strengths: Dominating strikeout stuff.  Respectable 3.13 ERA in 69 innings of work.  Great September, 0.79 ERA in 11.1 innings of work.  Weaknesses: Can't be trusted to close a kitchen door - 8 blown saves in 22 tries.  ERA nearly 1 run higher on the road than at home.  Unproven in the post season.

Corey Wade - Talented Middle Reliever.  Strengths: Great command, almost unhittable - 0.93 WHIP in 71.1 IP, 2.27 ERA.  Weaknesses: A rookie.  Has an ERA nearly 1 run higher on the road.  Cubs are batting .300 against him this season.

Joe Beimel - Middle Reliever.  Strengths: Exceptional lefty specialist, 2.02 ERA against, including an ERA of 1.16 at home.  Weaknesses: Not really all that outstanding against the lefties - they're batting .278 against him.  Has an ERA of 2.81 on the road.  Has apparently never pitched in the playoffs.

Chan Ho Park - Long Relief.  Strengths: Almost out of baseball and has something to prove.  The word "Ho" is a part of his name; that's just funny.  Weaknesses: I know a guy who knows his cousin, who says he has too much of a thing for the ladies.  Take it for what you will.  Has been a gas can since 2002.  ERA is 2.18 at home, but it's 3.88 on the road.  ERA is 4.03 since the All Star Break.  Lost to the Cubs once this year already.

Clayton Kershaw - Likely Long Relief.  Strengths: The odd man out of the starting rotation, has a good K-BB ratio.  Weaknesses: Unproven in a playoff series as a rookie.  5.36 road ERA.  Has a high WHIP - 1.50.

Romon Troncoso - Unlikely relief.  Strengths: Good strikeout-inning ratio.  Doesn't surrender a ton of homeruns.  Weaknesses: A rookie with mediocre numbers.  Gets lit up in close and late situations.  Has really bushy eyebrows.

The Starting Lineup:

Russell Martin - Catcher.  Strengths: Canadian, born and raised near my neck of the woods.  Good OBP - walked 90 times this year.  Speedy - stole 18 bases in 24 tries.  Weaknesses: No real home in the batting lineup, primarily mis-used as a #3 hitter.  Has seen a lot of work for a catcher, having played in more than 150 games for the second straight season.  Looks arrogant in his ESPN picture.

James Loney - First Baseman.  Strengths: Sort of looks like Derrek Lee.  Hits a lot of doubles and triples.  Plays better on the road - .305 AVG, 8 HR.  Weaknesses: Fairly unproductive for a first baseman - only hit 13 homeruns, drove in 90 RBI (while mostly being used as a #5 hitter).  Doesn't draw many walks.

Jeff Kent - Second Baseman.  Strengths: Lots of experience, including in the post season.  Is batting .329 in 155 Post All-Star Break at bats.  Kills the Cubs - .421 in 19 at bats.  Weaknesses: With that mustache, still looks like he belongs in a bad porn movie.  Inconsistent in the clutch - batting .237 with runners on, .240 with runners in scoring position, and .262 in close and late situations.  Has been primarily used as the cleanup hitter - not good, he's only hit 12 homeruns.

Casey Blake - Third Baseman.  Strengths: Fair amount of power.  Weaknesses: .221 AVG in September.  Still trying to figure out NL pitching - .251 AVG with LA since being traded by Cleveland.

Raffy Furcal - Short Stop.  Strengths: Good speed.  Has hit well in games played this season - .357 AVG.  Weaknesses: Hasn't played much due to injuries - only 35 games played.  We will hate him forever for hurting Derrek.  Lied about his age.  Represented by Scott Boras.

Manny Ramirez - Left Field.  Strengths: So happy to be out of Boston that he's put on a legendary clinic in LA.  Tremendous bat - .396 AVG in 187 NL at bats.  Has hit 24 homeruns in 95 post season games.  Weaknesses: Makes Soriano look like a Gold Glover.  Disappears from the outfield in the middle of games.  Mentally fragile.  Is batting .269 in the playoffs, and .227 in all Divisional Serieses.  Is batting .214 against the Cubs in the past 3 seasons.

Matt Kemp - Center Field.  Strengths: Mixes power with speed.  Good all-around player.  Weaknesses: No playoff experience.  Batting 10 points lower on the road with 10 fewer homeruns.  Has been primarily used as a leadoff hitter but doesn't draw a ton of walks.  Is batting .250 against the Cubs.  Maybe an illigitimate child of Shawn Kemp.

Andre Ethier - Right Field.  Strengths: First name is Andre.  Moderate power, good overall game (including plate discipline).  Performs equally as well on the road as he does at home.  Weaknesses: Inexperience.  Despite a ridiculous September (.462 AVG, 1.249 OPS), is batting .283 since the All Star Break compared to .335 Pre-Break.

Bench:

Danny Ardoin - Backup catcher.  Strengths: Has a funny name.  Unlikely to be used unless in an emergency.  Weaknesses: .206 lifetime batting average.  Not a reliable bat off the bench.

Blake DeWitt - Second/Third Baseman.  Strengths: Decent overall approach - walked 45 times in 117 at bats, struck out only 68 times.  Hit 4 homeruns in September.  Weaknesses: Rookie, no playoff experience.  Is only batting .240 on the road.  Is batting .217 against the Cubs.  Name makes him sound like he belongs in a Margaret Mitchell novel.

Nomar Garciaparra - First/Third Baseman, Short Stop.  Strengths: Playoff veteran.  Knows the friendly confines from the time he played there.  Good homerun to at bat ratio this year.  Weaknesses: Never healthy.  Defensively less-than-adequate.  Terrible numbers in close-and-late situations this season (.154 AVG, .237 overall with runners in scoring position).  Sometimes hurts himself by merely standing up.

Angel Berroa - Middle Infield.  Strengths: ...uhm.  He must be good defensively, right?  Weaknesses: Is jealous of the hitting game brought by Neifi Perez.  Is actually decent on the road - has 10 more hits in as many at bats.  Is batting .192 in close-and-late situations, which is unfortunate because that's when he'd likely be used.

Juan Pierre - Outfielder.  Strengths: Scrappy.  Decent base-stealer.  Singles machine.  Weaknesses: Walked 22 times in 375 at bats.  When starting, is regularly used as a leadoff hitter.  Looks like his head was shrunken by a witch doctor.  Is batting .214 this season against the Cubs.  Seriously, have you seen how little his head is?

Delwyn Young - Outfielder.  Strengths: Talented dancer.  Likes to whistle broadway tunes.  Weaknesses: Pretty crappy hitter.

Overall - The Dodgers are a well-balanced team with an outstanding bullpen.  However, I will submit to you this one thought:

When an unproven Cub reliever trots out to escape a dangerous situation, we are all balls of anxiety.  We practically expect him to fail.  Pretty much every Dodger is an unproven post season commodity, and while LA isn't feeling the pressure as much as the Cubs, they are still a premier baseball city and there is a demand of solid play there.  Therefore, I submit to you that while their bullpen was outstanding during the regular season, they are just as likely as the Cubs pen to implode under the pressure of a playoff game.

The Dodgers rotation, while with strong #1 and #2 pitchers, gets very weak after that.  It would almost serve Joe Torre's best interests to turn to his killer bullpen in or after the 5th inning during the middle games of the NLDS, at the risk of them wearing out.

Offensively, the Dodgers have one very absurdly good hitter - Manny Ramirez.  The rest of them are good but not great, and Joe Torre doesn't seem to use them properly in the lineup.  And their bench just does not hold up to the Cubs. We'll have the actual Series Preview for you before tomorrow's game.

Cubs 3, Dodgers 1

W Flag

Game Recap: Cubs 2, Dodgers 1, Insert Sweep Cliche

If you told me four days ago that the Cubs would score 8 runs in 3 games and still manage to a) not only win their series against but b) actually sweep the Los Angeles Dodgers, I would have waited until you left your home in order to sneak in and loot your clearly awesome drug supply. And yet, you would have been right.

The Cubs played some fantastic baseball this weekend. They didn't dominate the Dodgers. In fact, they made a handful of boneheaded defensive gaffes in pretty much every game while mostly leaving their bats at home. But what the Cubs did right sounds simple, even though it's not - they held the Dodgers to 3 runs and they got the big hits when they needed them.

Tonight, Carlos Zambrano failed to win, but he did keep his foot to LA's throat for 8 innings. He also tossed a whopping, Kerry Woodesque 130 pitches. Thankfully, Zambrano's arm is indestructible and his shoulder is too afraid of Carlos to suffer any kind of serious injury. I think that Carlos could break his pitching hand and he'd still march out there and battle through five or six innings of work. Carlos Zambrano is just that tough. An arm injury? No problem. A fleet of Chinese tanks? Stand back.

 

Tough Carlos

 

More important than Zambrano's workhorse appearance was the hitting of Alfonso Soriano. I know he gets a rap about being selfish, but I will reiterate that he isn't Sammy Sosa. Imagine if Sammy had found himself in the Fonz's situation in the 10th inning. The Cubs had a runner on in the pesky Mike Fontenot. Had Sosa been up to bat, we would have seen the familiar sight of three massive, gust-inducing hacks, none of which would have come anywhere near the location of the baseball.

Alfonso, meanwhile, did not hack away at the ball. Instead, he did something I would have paid good money to see from Sosa in September of 2004 - he took a short swing and hit a single, driving in the winning run in the 10th.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that Soriano would never have been in that position had the Cubs not battled in the 9th to score their first run of the game? Against a guy with a sub-2 ERA? Did I mention that? Just checking.

Series Recap: All is well in Wrigleyville tonight. The Cubs are now 11 games over .500 and they play the horrible Rockies. During my conversation with Jon Miller earlier today, he pointed out that, while the Cardinals and Astros were playing well, they've already played about twice as many games as the Cubs against the horrid NL West, also known as The Worst Division in Baseball. The Cubs still have a lot of games against some easy teams; Colorado is just one of them.

As far as the Dodgers go, I for one am happy to thank any team that can hold the Cubs to 8 runs over 3 games and still get swept. Perhaps they would have had better fortune had Nomar played ...

 

Cripple

 

...naaaaaaah.

Current Record: 32-21
Position in the NL Central: 1st place, 1.5 games ahead of St. Louis
On Pace For: 98-64
Record needed to win 120: 88-21

Game Recap: Double Take; Cubs 3, Dodgers 1

W

For the second straight day, the Cubs won a low-scoring affair against the mediocre Dodgers. However, this time they did it not with the long ball but with a few timely hits after a Dodger defensive miscue. The Cubs offense combined for an impressive 11 hits - with every regular but Fontenot and the Craptacular Jim Edmonds getting at least a hit - and the pitching delivered another solid performance.

I can't say enough good things about Sean Gallagher. He remains far from dominant, but maybe it's a mistake to expect any 22-year-old pitcher to "dominate" the opposition. Guys like Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano, and, yes, Mark Prior are hard to come by. However, while Gallagher didn't toy with the Dodgers as if they were his play things, he did pitch 7 strong innings, he allowed only 4 hits, 2 walks, and he struck out 3. He was followed by Carlos Marmol, who did his best Kerry Wood impression (1 hit, 2 walks, 1 strikeout), and by Kerry Wood in the 9th, who did a solid Marmol (1 hit, 0 walks, 2 k's).

Defensively, the Cubs had 2 more errors tonight - one from Soriano, whose throwing error in the 4th contributed to LA's single run scored. Alfonso has got to be feeling the pressure, as he is being heckled by the fans in the stands and derided by Bob Brenley. In a six month season, even the greats can have periods in which they look like utter tools, and while Soriano has far too many flaws to be called a "great," his positives will eventually outweigh his negatives. This is a guy who played shaky defense at second base for the Yankees. He should be able to handle any amount of crap that the Cubs fans lob his way.

Anyway, the Cubs will be playing for a sweep tomorrow - something which should be well within reach, as the Big Moose will be stepping to the mound.

Lastly, I want to spend a little bit of time addressing another hot topic - the incredibly crappy play of Jim Edmonds. Can you believe he's only been on the team for about a week and a half? In his time with the Cubs, Edmonds has managed to go 3 for 24. I will grant you that he had one tremendous defensive play, but c'mon, 3 for 24? It's about time for Jim Hendry to torpedo the Jim Edmonds experience, as Lassie has proven to be a Cub killer regardless of whether or not he wears Cardinals red or Cubs blue.

Send him home, already.

Edmonds Sucks!

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