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You Knew It Would Be Him
by Derek Smart
People have been saying for several years now that if anyone was primed to take the "last Cub no-hitter" mantle from Milt Pappas, it was Carlos Zambrano. No Cub starter in recent memory has gone to the mound with ridiculous stuff more often than Big Z, so logically, it was just a matter of having a day where he had both control and filth working for him, allowing for both the prevention of meaningful contact, and the completion of nine innings in under 500 pitches.
Tonight, the stars alligned, fate smiled - whatever, pick your own hackneyed phrase. Carlos threw his no-hitter, doing it in a nice, tight, 110 pitches, putting to rest for at least one night any lingering questions about the state of his shoulder.
He got it done by keeping the ball either on the ground, or in Geovany Soto's mitt, forcing 13 goundball outs while whiffing 10. It was a thoroughly dominant performance, so much so that if the Cubs were to find themselves in possession of a clinched division title by week's end, were I Lou Piniella, I'd have to think very seriously about skipping Z's final scheduled start altogether. Certainly, if the division is, indeed, in hand by then the start will at least be treated as a two or three inning tune-up, but seeing the results garnered with extended, uninterrupted rest, the option of keeping him completely out should at least be considered.
But enough about that. Big Z just threw a no-hitter, folks, so crack open a beverage and smile.