- First off, I have to give credit to Carlos Zambrano. We all know the guy is a head case, but I'd love to try and reign in that head case for my team. I drafted him in multiple fantasy leagues. (He and Lee were the only Cubbies worth having.)
He pitched an excellent 7 innings. Thankfully, the Sox actually had a plan against him. Quoting Aaron Rowand, from the on-field interview immediately following the game:"Luckily, we worked good counts, and [Zambrano's] pitch count got up a little bit."I'll challenge that a little bit, as the bottom of the order went up there hacking in the 7th (10 pitch inning), when it appeared that Z might be back out there for the 8th.
Getting to the Cubs bullpen is always a good idea.
- In the 4th inning, Zambrano hit Aaron Rowand square in the back. Make no mistake about it, this was a not a case of Carlos losing control. He had Rowand in his sights from the beginning. Why?... Rowand supplied some bulletin board material, that I can't seem to find in my brief 10 minute search. Basically, he said that Zambrano did a little too much celebrating, especially against the Sox. Zambrano, wanted to show who's boss. We got the message Carlos, it's the same as before, you're too emotional and we can get inside your pea-brain.
Contreras was unable to return the favor, because two batters later Zambrano actually did lose control, running a fastball a little to far inside on A.J. Pierzynski. Both benches were warned for the second straight day, setting up what could be a day full of fireworks Sunday.
The next time the Sox have a nice lead, and there will be a next time, expect one of your stars to go down Z. All because you couldn't calm down a little. Not only couldn't you calm down, you carried a newspaper quote onto the field with you.
I don't expect Brandon McCarthy to be throwing at anybody tomorrow, though it would be nice to see him buzz Hairston or Patterson with the first pitch, just to get 'em thinking he's wild. Brandon's just got to worry about throwing strikes, except to Derek Lee, and blocking out the biggest crowd he's ever seen in his life.
Jose Contreras has been even better than his numbers show in his last two outing. Last time out he gave up a couple long-balls to some scrubs, but otherwise pitched a great game. This time, he allowed practically nothing. I say practically because, when compared to Zambrano's outing, it doesn't look as dominating. (He did allow fewer base runners than Z, though.)
The Cubs took advantage of Contreras' methodical delivery and relative sloth towards the plate to steal 3 bases, one setting up their only run off of him. They only mustered 4 hits in 7 innings off El Conde, all singles. Most impressive though, was Contreras' pitch count. He needed just 78 pitches to get through 7 innings. Some of the credit for Contreras' low pitch count, however, has to go to the hack-tastic line up they run out there every day. (Cubs rank last in the NL in walks, 13th in OBP, and 13th in runs scored, despite being 3rd in HR) Had the Sox not been trailing 1-0 with the pitcher's spot leading off the 8th, I'm positive he would have been back out there.
- Which brings me to... AT&T presents You make the call
You're Ozzie Guillen: Your team is trailing 1-0. The pitcher's spot is due up to start the 8th inning. Do you..
A) Leave in you starting pitcher who's been dominant.
B) Pinch hit Timo Perez
C) Pinch hit Jermaine Dye
D) Pinch hit Tadahito Iguchi
E) Pinch hit Mark Buehrle
It was clear that Ozzie wanted the lefty-righty match up, but you can seriously make a case for leaving Jose Contreras in to hit. He couldn't do any worse than Timo. Timo is now, a career .202/.233/.274 pinch hitter, .176/.194/.221 pinch hitting since 2002, and .249/.294/.340 when leading off since 2002. You get the point, it's just a dumb decision. Dye or Tadahito would have been my choice, but if I really needed a lefty, I would have gone with Buehrle.
- Speaking of dumb decisions, Thank you Dusty Baker, for sticking with the ever dangerous Henry Blanco in the bottom of the ninth with the tying runs on base. Baker was quoted as saying that Michael Barrett was available to pinch hit. Do I even need to ask what he was waiting for?
- I meant to mention a few things last night but forgot while in my Honeyweiss induced fog. You can use these on the Cub fans who will, no doubt be holding the final game of the series over you should they find a way to beat a AAA pitcher. No matter the outcome of the Series:
- The Cubs will have a losing record
- The Sox will have the best record in baseball
- The Sox will hold the advantage in overall record for the entire crosstown series.
- The Cubs will have a losing record
- I thought this was funny. -- At least nobody picked them to win the division or anything.
- From the "do your damn homework you lazy ass reporter" files,
Entering the weekend, the difference between the Padres being a good team and a mediocre one was their play in one-run games, in which San Diego has gone 12-3. The record rivaled that of the AL Central Division-leading Chicago White Sox, who were 14-5 in one-run games and who, like the Padres, play in a large stadium where it can be more difficult to score runs.