Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Riding the Red Bull
2008-10-02 12:16
by Phil Bencomo

Joe Posnanski:

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.

2008-10-02 13:37:29
1.   Ali Nagib
Carlos doesn't have to dominate, unless the Cubs can't score runs again. They didn't win 97 just because of pitching and defense, and most of their losses in the second half have been when they haven't scored enough runs, as opposed to the pitchers getting shelled. If they can put up 6 or 7, they should be fine. Going to Game 3 tied 1-1 with Harden facing Kuroda looks just fine to me...just gotta get there.
2008-10-03 15:41:39
2.   Schteeve
they are playing scared. i predict they take both games in L.A. they will feel slightly less pressure of an entire fan base just waiting for them to blow it.

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