Are the Cubs mortally wounded by losing Game 1? I say no the Cubs are still the better team. BUT they obviously need a big performance from Carlos Zambrano, and man oh man, it's scary to put 100 years of pain and the passion of Cub nation on the Red Bull himself. My only prediction is this: Zambrano will either be utterly dominant or he will absolutely suck. I don't think there's an in-between, not tonight, not for Carlos.
Exactly. Let's not skirt around the hard fact: This game is a must-win, if the Cubs are to have any chance at winning the series. And to win, Zambrano must pitch well tonight, and the Cub lineup must start hitting -- in short, the Cubs must play like a 97-win team.
That's a lot of "must"s. But it all starts with Carlos, with whom there is rarely any middle ground between brilliant dominance and spectacular failure. His two mid-September starts may forever define him: A no-hitter on the 14th; and an eight-run, 1.2 inning debacle five days later. The no-hit Carlos pitched after 11 days of rest. Tonight, he will throw after seven.
I can't say which Zambrano will appear, but it will be obvious from the start. If he's on, I will sigh with relief. If he is not, I can only hope that Lou Piniella makes not the same mistake -- trying to squeeze just a little bit more from a pitcher with nothing left to give -- two nights in a row.