July 29, 2008
The Cubs made it two straight over the Milwaukee Brewers tonight winning three in a row for the first time since the beginning of the month. The Ace v. Ace matchup of Zambrano and Sheets continued to be a one sided affair with Zambrano improving his head to head record against Sheets to 4-1.
While it was a well pitched game through five innings, with the Cubs holding a 1-0 lead, it all came unravled for Sheets in the top of the 6th. The Cubs started the inning with six straight hits that dulled the pencils of anyone keeping score in their souvenir program…Lee – Single, Ramirez – Double, Kosuke – Triple, DeRosa – Single, Fontenot – Single, Soto – Single, Zambrano – Single, Soraino ending the hit parade with a Sacrifice RBI to center. In all the Cubs sent 10 men to the plate while chasing Sheets. It would be all the Cubs need to insure what ended up being an easy victory as they went on to an easy 7-1 victory.
When exactly could you begin to feel that it was the Cubs night? The top of the first inning was the indicator. Ben Sheets is virtually automatic when he has a hitter at 0-2 in the count…hitters holding a .133 BA v. Sheets with that count. Theriot banged out a single to center, stole second, and ended up at third on a throwing error. The hit ended up being meaningless in the box score, but it went a long way in dictating how the team would handle Ben Sheets….damn the statistics – wait for your pitch…when you get your pitch – drive the ball. It worked all night. With a 7-1 score you would expect HRs, but the Lou’s Crew did it all by being patient and manufacturing runs. It appears that the Cubs (not really- but literally) took the advice of 100 Year Itch and finally got out of their own way.
Game three – nationally televised on ESPN…morning preview….much analysis…and maybe even a guest post as well.
July 28, 2008
Many pundits are acting as if the winner of this series will go on to capture the NL pennant. Reality is, the winner of the final ten matchups between the Cubs and the Brewers will likely determine only who wins the division, and who gets the wild card birth.
I am not downplaying the signfigance of those coveted two spots in the “There’s Only One October” sweepstakes…The Cubs have been as close to unbeatable at home as you can get – But home field advantage has been eqaully as good for virtually the entire NL…in fact, only three teams the Brewers, the Cardinals, and the Phillies have winning road records. Among contenders, the Cubs have the worst road record at eight games below .500…but because of their home record being 25 games over .500, they own the best record in the NL heading into this series. The pressure to win the division and retain home field advantage throughout the playoffs is often the subject of the talking heads on BBTN, but in the year of the home team in baseball, I do not think it has ever been more prevalent.
We get three “nationally” televised games from this series..Tuesday and Thursday on WGN and Wednesday on ESPN. There are way to many story lines to covr for the series, which is why we wil be previewing each game individually. Looking ahead…here are the matchups for each game:
- Game One: Lilly v. Sabathia
- Game Two: Zambrano v. Sheets
- Dempster v. Parra
- Harden v. Bush
Game two – the matchup of aces Zambrano and Sheets should be the highlight of the series with Lilly v. Sabathia being a close second. The other two games clearly favor Cubs pitching, but this rivalry is beginning to turn into one of those Cowboys v. Redskins NFL games…No matter the strength or record of th other team, you can throw out the numbers and expect the unexpected.
Is Sabathia due for a letdown? 6-8 with a 3.83 with the Indians and now 4-0 with a 1.36 with the Brewers? He isn’t going to go undefeated and pitch complete games every outing is he? We will check back in our preview later today.