Cubbies already in hole
Posted: Thursday, October 2, 2008 7:00 pm
By: By The Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) — Big Z needs a big outing or the Chicago Cubs’ 100-year wait for a World Series championship could quickly reach 101.
Carlos Zambrano will head to the mound tonight in perhaps the biggest game the emotional ace has ever pitched.
That’s because the Cubs got off to the worst possible start against the new-look Los Angeles Dodgers, who rode a grand slam from James Loney and homers from Manny Ramirez and Russell Martin to a 7-2 victory Wednesday night in the NL playoff opener.
Only 18 of 56 teams who lost the division series opener came back to win the series, including only four of 28 in the NL, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“We definitely don’t want to go down 0-2,” Chicago’s Derrek Lee said. “It’s a short series, every game is huge. There’s no denying that.”
Loney’s grand slam off Ryan Dempster — who said on the first day of spring training he thought the Cubs would win the World Series — hushed a crowd of 42,099 at Wrigley Field on a windy 53-degree night.
“The atmosphere here was real quiet as I was going around the bases. So I think our fans were cheering back home,” Loney said.
The Cubs entered the postseason with the best record in league, hoping for a fast start a century after their last World Series championship. What they got was a performance that, no doubt, produced some “here we go again” feelings from their long-suffering fans.
The Cubs have lost seven straight postseason games, dating back to 2003 when they dropped the final three of the NLCS to the Florida Marlins after holding a 3-1 lead.
Philadelphia 3, Milwaukee 1
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — They wouldn’t be the Philadelphia Phillies if they didn’t provide any anxious moments.
Cole Hamels retired 24 of the 27 batters he faced. Brad Lidge struggled to get three outs. Behind their top two arms, the Phillies grabbed their first postseason victory in 15 years — barely.
Hamels pitched eight brilliant innings, Lidge escaped a ninth-inning jam and Philadelphia took advantage of Mike Cameron’s miscue in center field for a 3-1 win over Milwaukee in their playoff opener Wednesday.
“You don’t have to make it that interesting, Brad,” shortstop Jimmy Rollins said he told Lidge after the game. “What happened to those guys who come out and go 1-2-3?”
Game 2 in the best-of-five series is tonight, with ace CC Sabathia going to the mound for the wild-card Brewers on three days’ rest for the fourth consecutive start. Brett Myers pitches for the Phillies.
Boston 4, L.A. Angels 1
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — No matter how much the Angels dominate Boston during the regular season, they can’t beat the Red Sox in October.
Jason Bay hit a two-out, two-run homer off Los Angeles ace John Lackey in the sixth inning, and the Red Sox beat the Angels 4-1 Wednesday night in the opener of their first-round AL playoff series.
“I think we proved a lot,” Bay said.
The Angels won eight of nine regular-season games between the teams this year.
outscoring the Red Sox 42-17 in the final six. But the Red Sox have won 10 straight postseason games against the Angels dating to 1986, including first-round sweeps in 2004 and 2007 en route to World Series titles.
The World Series champion Red Sox tied a major league record for consecutive postseason wins over the same opponent, a mark Oakland set against the Red Sox from 1988-03.
Acquired in the three-team trade that sent Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers two months ago, Bay brought Boston back from a 1-0 deficit in the first postseason game of his career, and the Red Sox got a big start from John Lester (1-0), who allowed only an unearned run in seven innings.
“We had some chances early, and couldn’t get some hits to fall in,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Lester was on his game. He’s having a terrific year. He’s got a great arm and his velocity was up a bit from earlier in the year and he was able to get the fastball on both sides of the plate.”
The Angels will try to draw even Friday night in Game 2 of the best-of-five series, with Ervin Santana pitching against Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka.