Z Losing Gamble

NLDS – Game One – Cubs 1 Diamondbacks 3
WP – Brandon Webb (1-0) LP – Carlos Marmol (0-1) Save – Jose Valverde (1)
Diamondbacks Lead Series, 1-0

Lou Piniella’s crew had plenty of opportunities to win the first game of the divisional series but struggled once again with runners in scoring position. The Cubs left 8 runners on base and had runners on in each of the first 6 innings against Brandon Webb. They finished the night 1-for-10 with RISP. The lone Cubs run scored on a bases loaded infield single by Ryan Theriot in the 6th.

Carlos Zambrano pitched a very good game but was lifted after 6 innings and 85 pitches. Lou Piniella said after the game he pulled Zambrano because he trusted his bullpen and needed to rest Zambrano for a possible game 4. Zambrano allowed 1 run on 4 hits, a walk and 8 strikeouts….he was clearly in a groove. Zambrano made only one mistake, he gave up a solo home run to Stephen Drew in the 4th inning. Carlos Marmol struggled with his command and the ‘Baby Backs’ took advantage with 2 runs in the 7th inning. Mark Reynolds hit a lead off home run into the left field stands, only the 4th longball of the year given up by Marmol. Chris Snyder walked and after a double by Augie Ojeda, scored on a sacrifice fly by Conor Jackson.

The Cubs came out on the losing end of the battle of 18-game winners. Brandon Webb showed why he won the Cy Young Award last season. The Cubs offense could not string together any hits against the D’Backs’ ace, Webb gave up 1 run on 4 hits in 7 innings with 3 walks and 9 strikeouts. But this one might be remembered for the decision Piniella made after the 6th inning when he removed his ace, Carlos Zambrano.

Lou Piniella has pulled the right strings more often than not this season but his decision to pull Carlos Zambrano in the 6th inning will be second-guessed if the Cubs lose the series. While it is understandable why Piniella did what he did, it is hard to justify managing for the future in a 5-game series. Piniella said after the game a team must score more than they did in Game One, especially on the road….and he is absolutely correct. Hopefully the balls will find green in Game Two.

Carlos Zambrano did everything he could to help his team. He pitched an excellent game and even came through with 1 of their 4 hits. Zambrano kept himself under control when it was very evident early on he did not have his best stuff. After laboring through the first few innings Zambrano settled down and did his job.

Chris Young reached on a single up the middle in the 1st inning, stole 2nd and advanced to 3rd on a groundout to short by Eric Byrnes. Zambrano struck out Tony Clark to end the inning. Zambrano faced the minimum in the 2nd and retired the D’Backs in order in the 3rd.

After Stephen Drew’s home run in the 4th, Zambrano retired the next 3 batters he faced. Augie Ojeda reached on a infield single off Zambrano’s glove in the 5th, it was the 3rd hit he allowed. After Zambrano struck out Webb to end the inning, he left the mound all fired up, talking to himself. Drew reached with a 1-out single to left in the 6th….the last hit Zambrano allowed.

Carlos Marmol took the mound in the 7th. Rookie, Mark Reynolds greeted Marmol with a towering home run to left center. Marmol struck out Jeff Salazar but walked Chris Snyder. Augie Ojeda followed with a double to right. Bob Melvin brought in Connor Jackson and he flied out to center to score Snyder. Marmol struck out Chris Young to end the inning.

Bobby Howry retired the D’Backs in order in the 8th.

Several questioned how the Diamondbacks won 90 games this season….and now everyone knows why. The D’Backs are solid defensively and makes their opponents earn every run and every win.

The Cubs offense has no one to blame but themselves. The top of Lou Piniella’s lineup did not come through. The 1-5 hitters totaled 1 hit in 19 at bats with a walk and a run scored.

Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee and Cliff Floyd have to do their job if they expect to win this series.

Carlos Zambrano led off the 3rd with a double to left center but Brandon Webb struck out Soriano, Jacque Jones and Derrek Lee to end the inning….it was that kind of night.

The Cubs must bounce back in Game Two against Doug Davis, going back to Chicago down 2-0 could result in a very short series. Ted Lilly is expected to make the start and his teammates need the ‘Bulldog‘ to step up.

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney