By Laurence Holmes-
CHICAGO (WSCR) There’s been a lot of discussion over the last few days on why the Cubs/Sox series doesn’t seem to have the same type of buzz as years past. I would agree that there wasn’t a ton of sizzle before Game 1 started, but I think part of the reason for that is because of the scheduling. Ordinarily, when the Cubs & Sox play the series starts on a Friday. The buzz is built-in with the anticipation for the upcoming weekend. It’s real easy to sneak out of the office or take a long lunch on summertime Friday. That’s a feat that isn’t as easy on a Monday. Fans are less likely to “pre-game it” at the beginning of the week than during the weekend.
As for the game itself, I really enjoyed it. The White Sox really missed an opportunity to pile on Carlos Zambrano. It’s been a trend for the Sox lately that they’re falling behind with first pitch fastballs. That trend continued last night after the 1st inning. Zambrano pounded the zone, got ahead and then made the Sox chase. Even after giving up a bomb to Paul Konerko in the first inning, Zambrano was able to settle in and looked sharp and confident.
Gavin Floyd went the other way. Floyd had decent command of the strike zone early, but then lost the feel for his breaking stuff. Those pitches got elevated and the Cubs made him pay.
-The MVP Game 1 was Carlos Pena, but not just because of the 3-run homer in the 6th. Pena is one of the NL walk leaders (43). Even though his average is still down (.220), he still is getting on base and he’s still seeing a ton of pitches. That was the key to last night’s win. In three at-bats against Floyd, Pena saw 22 pitches. In each of those at-bats he pushed the count full. He saw everything in Floyd’s arsenal and was ready pounce. He came through and changed the game. To really put it into perspective, look at it this way. Floyd threw 102 pitches. Pena saw 22. That means that Pena saw 21.5 percent of all the pitches Floyd threw last night. That’s a ridiculous chunk. There isn’t a lot that a batter can’t pick up on a pitcher after seeing that many.
-Remember last year, when Zambrano got into it with Derek Lee in the dugout? Well since then, Zambrano has gone 14-4 with a sub 3.50 ERA. Zambrano reiterated on the Danny Mac show yesterday that he would be willing to waive his no-trade clause if the Cubs asked. He still has nearly $20 million left between now and the end of his deal, but pennant races make teams stupid for pitching. Just keep that in mind…
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-If Mike Quade is smart, he won’t let Paul Konerko see anymore hittable pitches. In fact, they might want to put the “Pujols rule” in for PK. He’s just been too good. Konerko has hit safely in 18 of his last 19 games. In that stretch, he’s got 10HR & 21RBI and is hitting over .400. Adam Dunn continues to look confused. He hasn’t proven he’s a threat so why pitch to Konerko until Dunn proves he can protect him?