Game Two – National League Division Series
Best of Five – Dodgers Lead Series, 1-0
Game Time – 8:30pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: TBS – Radio: 720 WGN, ESPN Radio, XM Radio Channel 184, 189
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Carlos Zambrano (14-6, 3.91/1.29) vs. Chad Billingsley (16-10, 3.14/1.34)
The Big question for tonight’s game…. Which Carlos Zambrano will show up? The Cubs are one loss away from putting themselves a hole that will be almost impossible to dig out of. The concern with Zambrano is how will a player that relies on his emotions be able to use them to his advantage in the biggest game of the season for his team. Zambrano has gotten the best of himself of late and if he struggles early, do not be surprised to see Ted Lilly out of the pen.
No two questions about it, tonight is a must win for the Chicago Cubs.
Wednesday night should have served as a wake up call for Lou Piniella’s crew. While Derek Lowe has been on top of his game for a majority of the second half, so had Ryan Dempster. The Dodgers made Dempster throw strikes, he did not and the rest is history. The Cubs slipped back into their free-swinging ways after getting the lead and in order to leave for ‘Mannywood‘ with the series tied, they must make Chad Billingsley work.
Scoring early and often with contributions from Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez will not only relax the team but give Carlos Zambrano enough breathing room that he can put together a win.
The keys for tonight’s game…. Carlos Zambrano, Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez to step up and do what they are paid to do, win ballgames. The lack of offense from the three players, that are supposed to lead the team, over the past two post seasons is more than concerning. Aramis Ramirez ended a 0-for-14 playoff drought with a double on Wednesday. Alfonso Soriano was 2-for-14 last October and followed up with a 0-for-5 in Game One….then there is Derrek Lee. Lee was 1-for-3 with a walk on Wednesday, last year 4-for-12 for the Cubs first baseman. One extra basehit from ‘The Big Three’ in four post-season games simply does not cut it. While Dempster walked away the first game on Wednesday, Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez MUST start doing their job.
Carlos Zambrano was 0-1 in 2 starts against the Dodgers this season with a 4.91 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP….the Dodgers hit a robust .317 against him and most of the damage was done in the 7th inning in LA in early June. Big Z received a no-decision at Wrigley on May 28th. The Cubs won 2-1 and Z allowed 1 run on 6 hits in 8 innings with 4 walks and 3 strikeouts. At Dodger Stadium was a different story.
After throwing the ball extremely well in the first 6 innings a couple of misplayed balls by the Cubs defense allowed the Dodgers to break the game open. Zambrano ended up losing the game on June 7th, 7-3. Zambrano allowed 7 runs on 13 hits in 6 2/3 innings with a walk and 6 strikeouts.
The Cubs need their ace tonight, more than ever.
- Blake DeWitt – 1-for-4 with 2 walks
- Andre Ethier – 6-for-13 with a double and a walk
- Rafael Furcal – 3-for-23 with 2 doubles and a walk
- Nomar Garciaparra – 1-for-4
- Matt Kemp – 3-for-6 with a home run
- Jeff Kent – 8-for-33 with a double and 4 walks
- James Loney – 3-for-11
- Russell Martin – 8-for-13 with a home run and 4 walks
- Juan Pierre – 7-for-32 with a double and 5 walks
- Manny Ramirez – 0-for-3
After a solid first half of the season (9-8 in 21 games, 19 starts, with a 3.25 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP), Chad Billingsley was just short of spectacular in the second half. Billingsley was 7-2 in 14 starts, 13 games, with a 2.99 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP. In his last 4 starts (5 appearances), 3-0 with a 3.24 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP….while teams hit .296 against him.
The Cubs will have chances tonight and must make him work. Billingsley walked only 80 batters in 200 2/3 innings this season but he gave up 188 hits.
Billingsley was 0-1 in 2 starts against the Cubs this season with a 4.91 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP. The Cubs hit .256 with 3 home runs and 5 walks in 11 innings. Billingsley lost to the Cubs at Wrigley Field on May 26th, 3-1. He allowed 2 runs on 4 hits in 6 innings with 2 walks and 7 strikeouts. At Dodger Stadium on June 5th, Billingsley received a no-decision in a 5-4 Cubs win….he allowed 4 runs on 7 hits in 5 innings with 3 walks and 8 strikeouts.
- Henry Blanco – 0-for-1
- Mark DeRosa – 2-for-6 with a home run
- Jim Edmonds – 1-for-11 with 2 walks
- Kosuke Fukudome – 1-for-5 with a home run and a walk
- Derrek Lee – 1-for-6 with a home run
- Aramis Ramirez – 1-for-7
- Alfonso Soriano – 2-for-8 with a walk
- Geovany Soto – 0-for-4 with a walk
- Ryan Theriot – 3-for-5 with a walk
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….