That was the second inning from hell. I guess the Cubs defense was only credited with two errors (I thought Theriot should have had one as well). Big Z got not 1, not 2, but three double play balls that the Cubs infielders promptly coughed up and turned into ZERO outs. Think about that for a minute… They Cubs left 6 outs on the table. Carlos Zambrano basically was asked to get three innings worth of outs in one inning. When I think about how badly that inning went it makes me sick. Those are plays the Cubs infielders have made all year. The Cubs ranked second in defense this season… they consistently played great baseball and yet in that one instance it all fell apart. You cannot give any team 1 extra out, much less 6.
Looking back I was proud of the way Z handled himself that inning. So much went wrong he could have lost it. Sure he ended up giving up the big bases loaded double to Martin, but the man had already been out there far too long. When he left the Wrigley fans gave him a well deserved standing ovation... Z brought it last night when no one else did. I hope I get the chance to see Z pitch again this season.
As last night closed Cubs fans were heartbroken, viewing their season as being over. But here is the thing about baseball that is so easy forget through all the heartbreak the Cubs have inflicted…momentum can easily get stopped by a great pitcher. On Saturday the Cubs are sending out their most dominating pitcher to try to save the season in LA. Harden has been nearly unhittable at his best this season. He is rested and he is ready to go.
When the Red Sox were down 3-0 against the Yankees in 2004 it appeared that their season was over. At that point you just have to go out and play the next game. If anyone had the choice of having Rich Harden or Hiroki Kuroda to start a playoff game for them who do you think the choice would be? This is a game that a fan would look at as one the Cubs are most likely to win in any other circumstance. So lets get this one and then worry about the next one.
The biggest difference between this Cubs team and last years Cubs team is the depth of their rotation. The Cubs are not putting Rich Hill on the mound with their season on the line, they are putting Rich Harden. If Rich gets through that game the Cubs will not be trying to run Z on short rest, they will be giving the ball to a rested Ted Lily to face a Dodger Lineup that thrives on left handed bats. If Rich Harden can do what aces do he can stop the momentum and start getting it back the other way. The Cubs just need to relax. No one expects them to win now, so go do it.
This Cubs team has battled all season. They have come back from 8 runs down to beat the Rockies, they’ve had a 2 out ninth inning rally to beat Brewers, they’ve had multiple 5+ game winning streaks…they can do this. Their backs are against the wall, they are down, but they are not out. If this series ever gets back to Chicago the pressure is going to be on the Dodgers just as much as it is on the Cubs. I want to close with wisdom from the great Andy Duphrane:
“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.” Have hope Cubs fans…I for one have not given up yet.