JEFF: The Showdown Begins
By Jeff Falconio
Round one goes to the Cubs with a 6-4 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park Monday night. When analyzing this series over the past weekend, Greg Matzek and I both stated that the key was going to be pitching after the seventh inning. In a series loaded with great starting pitching, it would be the bullpen, at times a sore spot for both teams, that would be the determining factor.
One could easily point the finger at Rickie Weeks. Once again, Weeks couldn't jumpstart the offense with an 0-4 performance from the plate. However, it was an errant throw by Weeks in the seventh that gave Chicago a 4-3 lead. Instead of ending the inning on a double play, the Cubs scored two on the wild throw. But Weeks doesn't deserve all the blame for this one. Russell Branyan took Weeks off the hook with the game-tying blast in the bottom of the seventh. Chicago starter Ted Lilly was fantastic through the first five innings. CC Sabathia wasn't bad either, though he surrendered nine hits, the big lefty only gave up two runs before the Weeks error. But both starters were gone by the eighth.
So as we figured, it came down to the bullpen. Salomon Torres opened the door for the Cubs by walking consecutive batters in the ninth. Of course, Chicago pounced on the errant pitching by pushing across two runs. In a game as evenly-matched as this, defense and the bullpen will make the difference. The Brewers made one too many miscues and you can't do that against the Cubs, who displayed resiliency on Sunday by overcoming a five run deficit to the Marlins. Tomorrow is a new day though and Ben Sheets will be called on for the start against Carlos Zambrano. You can expect the same kind of tight, back-and-forth baseball that you saw in the first game of this crucial series.