Wait, what?

Marquis wins NL leading eighth game.

Ok, this baseball season is completely unpredictable….it’s official!
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Listen tonight as I guest on the United Cardinals Bloggers Radio Hour

I’m going in.

Cardinals/Cubs series this weekend Thursday-Sunday at Wrigley.  The Cubs will have home-field on their side…I won’t be so lucky come this evening.

If you get a chance tonight, listen in to the United Cardinals Bloggers Radio Hour (link here) and hear me guest as we chat about all things baseball, including this weekend’s Cubs/Cards series.  Not so sure that there will be any other Cub fans included as guests so Cubs fans should feel free to call in and back me up!  (Actually, the guys mentioned that they’d keep it civil…but you never know when it comes to this rivalry!  I’m definitely looking forward to it so if you get a chance, dial it up on-line.  Also on tonight as a guest is fellow MLBLogger Redbird Chatter.  Should be a great time and an even better series this weekend!

Had a chance to watch today’s game on-line and man…does it hurt to get beat by Marquis!  Losing at Wrigley is always a horrible feeling…but having a cast-off and lay down the beating?  Not cool.  And Marquis and his stuff?  Please.  That was pathetic.

Opening Day on the other hand was awesome.  Cubs have opened the first week of the season up strong going 5-3, currently in second place behind the Cardinals.  Lilly was amazing through seven delivering the goods no one is to speak of until it’s over (you know what I’m saying) and it’s great to see him come out strong.  Not concerned at all about Zambrano, can’t wait to see him this weekend.  I feel bad for teams who don’t have that ace that makes you believe every five starts you are going to win.  Great fun in having that with Zambrano…wish I could make the Apr 21 game against the Reds to get the Zambrano no-hitter statue.  That thing is pretty cool and a great symbol of an amazing pitching performance.  Love Dempster and expect great things from him this year.  Harden got roughed up today but again, it’s early, not concerned.

Soriano is having one of his best Aprils so far ever, especially in the past few seasons and Fukudome seems to be in his April zone like last year.  With Bradley injured with a bum groin (surprise) it’s going to be important he performs like he’s capable of.  I love the balance in the lineup Bradley brings, but this injury is a great opportunity to see Reed play a whole lot more. Nothing wrong with that.

Hopefully Soto comes around.  Sore shoulders and catchers?  Not a good mix.  If Soto is healthy I don’t foresee a sophomore slump so hopefully his body holds it together.  Same with Ramirez and Gregg actually.  Injuries could be a huge problem for this team this year, something that could ruin plans we’d all love to make come October.  Ramirez’s bat and glove don’t have the back up Gregg does.  Marmol can step up and close I feel without a real problem…backing up Ramirez?  That’s much tougher.  Miles at 2B and Fontenot at 3B isn’t exactly the ideal.

Lee on the other hand.  Aside from today’s solo shot, it’s been a slow start and really the only weak link in the healthy part of the Cubs lineup right now.  I’m kind of hard on Lee because I expect a lot from him.  He needs to step it up and be his a Cardinal killer this weekend.  Any time we get the Cards at Wrigley, we have to take advantage of it.  Playing in St. Louis is never easy…need to get these four games this weekend while we’re inside the Friendly Confines.

We’ll see how friendly the podcast/radio hour confines are this evening.  Can’t wait to talk Cubs baseball with hard-core baseball fans.  Again, call in if you get a chance and say hey.  Come back soon for a new post recapping the experience!

Go Cubs Go!

Advantage: Cubs

By beating the Mets in the house the Amazin’s built, the Cubs clinched home field advantage throughout the NLCS.  Now whether they make it that far remains to be seen.  However, with the home field advantage Wrigley has been so far this year for the Cubs…that is definitely more great news this club can enjoy, in addition to repeating as NL Central champs, clinching the division on Saturday against the Cardinals.

Marquis pitched a great game today going deep into the seventh inning and provided the game winning grand slam. I always find it weird to see a pitcher hit a home run, even as a national league fan. Of course, I always welcome it regardless.
 
You can tell its audition season as of late with Pie getting more playing time lately. I admire the fact that Lou is still playing everyone, keeping them ready and trying to built momentum going into the playoffs.  Pie has delivered as of late and I believe he will be a great cog to have if we need him in the postseason.  Before the season I thought he was the next great CF this league may see.  He still could be I suppose, but after watching Edmonds and Johnson take over center this year, it truly shows how much Pie still has left to develop as a player before he contributes at that level on a regular basis.  
 
One thing Fukudome will provide in the postseason for sure is his glove.  He’s a smart fielder and made another nice play tonight against the Mets.  His bat may have cooled off and the NL may have ‘figured him out’, but his glove is one thing you can’t do anything about.  He’ll be a great defensive component if nothing else in the playoffs.
 
I’m glad Lou is keeping Z in his regular spot in the rotation.  After getting hit hard last time out and having such a drastic difference in outcomes in his two appearances after being out for two weeks, Zambrano really needs to be in there on his regular rest.  Everyone else has been shuffled slightly to shape up and prepare our four man rotation for the playoffs.  That four man group of course will feature Zambrano, Lilly, Harden and Dempster.  Four great seasons right there…let’s hope it continues when the calendar flips and we hit October 1.
 
Speaking of which, still not sure who we’ll be playing which is why Lou hasn’t named a Game 1 starter for October 1. I can’t say I like the Cubs’ chances any more or less when it comes to the Mets or Dodgers.  Both teams have been hot and cold as of late, both have big time play makers in their lineups and I feel like their pitching staffs are pretty much equal performance and health-wise at this point, very late in the season.
 
55-26 at home this year.  Best overall record in the National League locked in.  Playoffs start October 1.
 
Advantage: Cubs.  
 
GO CUBS GO!!!
 
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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!!!
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