Well my friends, records and landmarks continue to fall for the 2008 Cubbies. Carlos Zambrano tossed a no-hitter last night and 1972 has been erased. For years, opposing batters, pitching coaches and teammates have speculated that Big Z had the stuff to throw a no-hitter. Maybe it was only a matter of time. But after a twelve day layoff because of shoulder issues? On a neutral site against a team who had just won 14 out of their last 15 games?
This wasn’t against the Royals or against a team out of the playoff hunt and starting a bunch of no-name rooks; this was against a surging Astros team with Berkman, Tejada and Cub-killer Hunter Pence. Impressive. Just another piece to an already amazing season. However, let me reiterate what I said last week: there’s only one way to finish a season like this off properly and fortunately Z feels the same way…
“All my pitches were working great today. I was watching the [radar] guns the first inning. I was throwing 99, 98. I said, ‘Let’s get it on.’ ”
“Next stop will be the World Series…”
The special thing about this team is that they really do seem to believe in the team records falling; just as proud to have put forward eight all-stars as they were when Eyre pitched 32 scoreless innings or even Zambrano pulling a Milt Pappas.
Hey, and special cheers to 2008 NL Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto, he already had the ROY locked up and just added calling a no-hitter to his rookie resume, they may as well give him the award now.
Now the races begin
The question of who will win the NL Central has been answered. Taking two out of three from the Redbirds in Busch was huge. Not only did it spur confidence again by reminding the team they can take the close big games, but it practically eliminated our friends in southwest Illinois. I like.
Listen, the job LaRussa and Duncan did to have STL even close is impressive, but they simply don’t have enough talent and their bullpen is bad. Pujols will have to watch the MVP go elsewhere, but he’s still be best player in the NL.
Other races are becoming quite interesting and these next two weeks are now all about who the Cubs will be facing in round one. The aforementioned Houston, before failing to get a hit for nine innings last night, are on fire. They are now two games back of the red hot Phillies in the Wildcard race.
Speaking of the Phillies, just a few days ago, the Mets looked like they were in charge of the East. Not so fast. No one expected the Fightin’ Phils to take all four from the fading Brewers. Now it’s a toss up.
Who will win the East? Philly? New York? Maybe the wildcard won’t come out of the Central. Maybe it will, but it won’t be the Beermakers. Lots to watch for in the next two weeks. In the West, the Dodgers have gone 8-2 in their last 10 while the Dbacks have gone 2-8. What does that mean? That means it’s likely the Cubbies won’t be anywhere near Phoenix in October. LA fans are feeling good and their dodger dogs are tasting a little better in Chavez Ravine… 4.5 game lead.
Looks like LA has the West. I’ll make no predictions about the Wildcard or the East. I’ll tell you this, though. Philly and Houston scare me. New York, Milwaukee and LA less so.
Readers, who do you want to play? Who do you not want to play?
Either way, the Cubs will have to be prepared. Lou should be able to start resting regulars in the next few days. Maybe just one a day. Harden, Zambrano, and Dempster will be shortened up and Wood and Marmol used selectively.
For now, let’s countdown together.