Just a Bit Outside….Over and Over and Over Again – Cubs 2 Dodgers 7

Game One of Five – Cubs 2 Dodgers 7
WP – Derek Lowe (1-0) LP – Ryan Dempster (0-1) Save – None

The Los Angeles Dodgers took the first step at advancing to the next round with an impressive win against Lou Piniella’s crew in game one of the National League Division Series. Ryan Dempster could not find the strike zone and walked a season-high 7 batters in 4 2/3 innings. Dempster tossed 109 pitches, 57 for strikes. He walked the bases loaded in the 4th and escaped without allowing a run, but the 5th inning would prove to be the difference in the game.

Dempster walked Rafael Furcal with 1-out then issued back-to-back 2-out walks to Manny Ramirez and Andre Ethier that loaded the bases. Dempster quickly got ahead of James Loney 0-2 before a foul ball then throwing the first ball of the at bat. Loney then launched Dempster’s next pitch over the wall just to the left of center….a Grand Slam and four runs for the Dodgers on just one hit. And one big swing of the bat.

Manny Ramirez hit his 25th career post-season home run off Sean Marshall in the 7th, a solo shot to left center that was golfed out of the park. Jeff Samardzija gave up a run in the 8th after a double by Blake DeWitt, an error by Jim Edmonds and a single by Casey Blake. Russell Martin hit the Dodgers’ third home run of the night in the 9th off of Jason Marquis.

Mark DeRosa gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead in the 2nd inning with his first career post-season home run but the Cubs offense managed only two hits after the 5th inning off Derek Lowe and the Dodgers’ bullpen. Greg Maddux put the exclamation point on the night by pitching the 9th inning with a 5-run lead.

The difference on the night was the eight walks issued by Ryan Dempster and Sean Marshall as well as the fact the entire staff pitched from behind in the count all night. The Cubs actually out hit the Dodgers, 9-8, but 7 singles, a double and a home run will not win too many games in the post-season. ‘The Big Three‘ were 2-for-12 with a walk in Game One.

Wednesday night was the Cubs seventh straight post-season loss dating back to the fourth game of the NLCS five years ago….

Bad pitching and no offense is the recipe for losing ballgames, especially in October. The Cubs put themselves in a must win situation on Thursday night after just a lackluster performance on Wednesday. The team looked flat and any time a pitching staff issues eight walks it has a tendency to affect the entire team, both in the field and at the plate.

It is one thing to lose, but it is another to give a game away. The Dodgers out slugged the Cubs and took advantage of the opportunities Ryan Dempster gave them in the 5th inning. Any observer of the game realized Dempster dodged the proverbial bullet in the 4th inning and was not able to get himself out of trouble in the 5th. Dempster put a lot of runners on base in a short amount of time and put pressure on his defense as well as the offense….as well as taking the crowd out of the game, so much for home field advantage.

Lou Piniella mentioned in his post-game press conference that he would not rule out lineup changes on Thursday….and would make a decision when the time comes on Thursday. The offense did not show up, especially ‘The Big Three‘ and they must find away to get the job done on Thursday.

There is no two ways about it, post-season baseball is about pitching and throwing strikes, the Cubs and Ryan Dempster simply did not in Game One.

Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to face Chad Billingsley in Game Two of the NLDS on Thursday night.

Quote of the Day

"Baseball, just a game as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes." - Ernie Harwell
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