How about that first game of the NLDS between the Cubbies and our Dodgers? In any ballpark, a sinkerball pitcher like Derek Lowe should be able to win and flourish against seven free passes. With that 7-2 victory in game one, the Dodgers have come to Wrigley Field and swiped away the homefield advantage from the hapless Cubs.
What went right for the Dodgers was definitely the pitching. Even though the major networks like ESPN and TBS will harp about the grand slam (which I will get to in a moment) and Manny’s solo golf-shot bomb, pitching was the key. Derek Lowe only made one mistake in his six innings of work. He gave up a home run that was given a very generous boost thanks to that famous Chicago wind. Only a few feet to the right, or a few feet short, and that would have either been a long fly out or a foul ball. I actually thought Lowe’s pinpoint accuracy with some of those sinkerball pitches were quite masterful throughout the first six innings, including that inning-ending double play in the bottom of the third. He induced another double play in the fifth, this one off D. Lee… with great control all around. If it wasn’t for that one pitch, he may have stayed in the game for another inning and hurled seven shutout innings. As it is, he gets credit with a nice quality start, and more importantly, his team up 1-love in the series.
I also must give a ton of credit to the excellent bullpen of the Dodgers. Where in the world did Cory Wade come from? This kid is a stud pitcher, and if he continues pitching the way he has been, Wade could become a very formidable set-up man for Jonathan Broxton, the closer. (Wade is only 25, and Broxton is only 24) I know I should be thinking about the current situation, but I smile when I think about what the future could possibly hold for the Dodgers with that pitching duo closing out games. Heck, imagine if Wade was the setup to the setup? What a trio of closers! Wade in the 7th, Broxton in the 8th, and Saito in the 9th. Of course, I could be getting way ahead of myself, but can you blame me? While I’m still going on about the pitching, big ups to Greg Maddux for coming in and shutting the door in the 9th. When it comes to big games, he’s still got it.
Now a brief snippet about the offense. James Loney is the man. That’s all that really needs to be said. He is the man. It takes moxy to step back into that batter’s box and either be the grand hero, or the grand goat. With a two-strike count and the bases loaded? Ryan Dempster was one pitch away from getting out of another bases loaded jam. Then James Loney lowered the boom and cranked one into left field for the grandest of grand slams. Wrigley Field went silent. It was the best sound ever. Those three walks finally caught up with Dempster and ultimately cost him. How sweet it is.
…and now the Dodgers are two games away from making their first NLCS in twenty years. Let’s hope LA can steal another game in Chicago and come back to Chavez Ravine with a 2-love series lead. Game 2 is later today!