One for Me. One for Brew.

magic number down to two.png

The magic number is down to two.  One win for the Cubs…one loss for the Brewers.  That’s it.  That’s all that is standing between the Cubs and a repeat title in the National League Central.  151 games played.  92 won. 59 lost.  And at home, a record of 53-25.  Tomorrow at Wrigley they get another opportunity to celebrate on the home field, for the 54th time this season…and if accompanied by a Brewers loss…this celebration will come with the division and another trip to the postseason…another chance to get to and win the World Series.

Zambrano is on the mound tomorrow.  Last time out we all know what happened.  Lilly and company nearly repeated the feat the next day.  The chances of that were ridiculous low.  The odds on Zambrano coming out and throwing another no-hitter are so stacked against the ace, it’s seriously ridiculous to even discuss it.  
The Cardinals are trying to make headway in the wild card race so they’ll be a team that will fight through the game and no matter what kind of lead the Cubs get on them early in the game, they won’t go away easily.  The Cubs will have to come out strong and not let up the whole game.  Exactly the way Piniella has preached for September and October to go if they’re going to finish this thing the way we all hope they do.  To get a victory like today’s and not capitalize on the opportunity it presents would be a shame.
When I lost my internet connection while watching today’s game on-line, the Cubs were down 5-2 and it wasn’t looking good.  I assumed we’d be stuck at four games at the end of the day and look to move forward with the countdown tomorrow.  When I got the text message that said the Cubs won 7-6 I couldn’t believe it.  I saw Ramirez go deep earlier in the game.  The guy has been a part of so many clutch moments this year, its a shame his stats aren’t better overall or I’d consider him someone with great chances to be the Cubs and the NL’s MVP.
soto 3 run hr game winner vs brewers sept 18.png
My favorite part aside from the simple fact that they won is the fact that a young player in Soto was the guy who stepped up with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to deliver the game tying three run blast.  He was the NL’s starting catcher in the All-Star game, has handled the staff well this season and has clearly made an impact on this year’s team.  It’s good to see him keep that momentum going in clutch moments such as today.  The more the merrier and we’re going to need everybody flying on all cylinders in order to have a chance at beating the ghosts of Cubs past this October.
Of course the guy who is favored to be the NL MVP this season is Pujols and he’ll be a bat we’ll need to keep under control tomorrow if we’re going to do our part in obtaining a chance to clinch on Friday.  Another title, another win closer to retaining the best record in the National League and home field through the NLCS potentially and the chance to do it all at home is on the line tomorrow.  One more win from the Cubs…and of course one more loss from the Brewers.  Voluntarily or not…sure would be great if all parties involved would corporate tomorrow.  What do you say Brewers?  Feel like losing to the Reds tomorrow?  C’mon…you know you do…
…please?  GO CUBS GO!!!
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for blogfooter2rectangle2.jpg

Brief Setback

Column A  Column B
                                                     Zambrano       1-hitter
                                                     Lilly                9 strike out game
                                                     Dempster        Lose to the Brewers
                                                     Marquis          No-hitter
If you were to see these two columns listed above a few days back and asked to try and match up one from one column with a selection in the other, in predicting what would happen to the pitchers in column A this week, would you have guessed correctly?  I don’t know that I would have.  I may have initially thought Zambrano would throw the no-hitter but then ultimately decide against choosing him because it would seem too obvious.  I may have then figured Lilly contributed to the one-hitter and given the no-hitter to Dempster (because why not and…) seeing that I would assume out of the four of them it would be Zambrano who’s outcome was heavily strikeout based.  Even with a sore shoulder, I’d give him the benefit of the doubt against the other three when it comes to striking out opposing batters.  Which of course would then leave Marquis to lose to the Brewers.  While this game would be more fun with no losses in column B as options, after tonight’s game I would unfortunately have 2 out of 4 correct.
It didn’t take long for the Brewers to jump out in front and once they got comfortable there, they held on to the lead for the entire game.  If you think Dempster had a lot to follow with Z’s no-no and Lilly’s combined effort on with the one-hitter, how do you think Marquis must’ve felt?  Especially with the ‘magic numbers’ falling fast lately, the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone again with tonight’s game, Dempster’s outing in addition to Z’s and Lilly, PLUS the fact that Houston lost which left the Cubs to only do their part in winning all three games in order to take the division against the Brewers by the end of this series.  Unfortunately Marquis got lit up and had no support from the Cubs’ hitters..even despite the fact that Sheets left early with tightness in his forearm.  Shouldn’t be too serious so good for Sheets, but the fact that we couldn’t step up against the Crew’s bullpen?  C’mon…that’s ridiculous.
The Cubs better keep playing hard and take no game lightly even with an eight game lead.  It was like they hardly showed up tonight when it came to the bottom of each inning.  The Brewers and Cardinals are fighting for their postseason life in the Wild Card race and of course until the Cubs’ magic number does actually hit zero, there’s always the chance of some miracle finish by one of them to steal the division.  So no more messing around.  Let’s take care of the Brewers tomorrow and get it down to two.  Then, let’s do what we have to do against the Cardinals and wrap it up at home this weekend.  We make it to October and there is going to be plenty of drama to go around I’m sure.  Let’s keep the September drama to a minimum shall we?  I think that sounds like a great plan.  Harden’s up to finish off this series with the Brewers tomorrow afternoon.  Let’s hope he carves out his own multiple choice/match game answer with ‘none of the above’.  That way, even though it might end up being mighty ugly, at least it won’t result in a loss and we can get that magic number officially down to two.  GO CUBS GO!!!
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for blogfooter2rectangle2.jpg

Oooh…magic

standings 6 game magic number.png

Magic is fun….but magic is hard to believe in unless you see the magician actually pull off the trick. The Cubs magic number to clinch is down to six.  I’ll be a lot more excited about it when I see them complete the trick officially.
Today was a beautiful step in that direction, for sure.  Ted Lilly…talk about tough acts to follow.  A day after Zambrano pulls off the first Cubs no-no since 36 years prior (no wait, let me rephrase that, just in case, and let’s say since 36 years earlier), Lilly had to take the mound and try to match the level of success Z accomplished not even 24 hours before.  And by match success, I mean simply get the ‘W’.  He did…and then some.  Lilly came out firing on all cylinders and no-hit the Astros even further, for a combined 15 innings when coupled with Z’s performance!  It started to get to the point where I felt bad for the Astros.  It didn’t quite get to that point, but it was close.
I don’t know what’s going to happen and where the Cubs will be come the end of October, when there’s no more baseball to played in ’08, but there’s no doubt that this season has been full of special moments no matter what.  Fukudome’s start, Soto’s year, Dempster’s return to the starter role, Wood’s surge to All-Star form, Theriot’s all around great play, the incredible diversity and contribution of Derosa, the surprise addition of Edmonds, the up and down year of Soriano, Zambrano’s no-hitter and today’s performance by Ted Lilly.  Lots of great moments, definitely worth the price of admission both financially and emotionally up until now.  HUGE expectations exist though for the final trick of the season.  The anticipation certainly has been exciting…have to wonder if they’ll be able to pull it off…
Great game today, unbelievable lead in the Central all things considered and the magic number sits there at six.  Let’s hope Dempster continues to saw opponents half and doesn’t begin a Cubs disappearing act with tomorrow’s start against the Brewers.  The series are just going to get bigger and bigger from here on out.  GO CUBS GO!!!
Thumbnail image for blogfooter2rectangle2.jpg