Yesterday, the NL Central was in pretty dire straits: although it boasted two of its teams in the 2008 postseason, both of them were down two games to none in a best-of-three series. One was the Cubs, winners of 97 games in the regular season --- the best in the NL, second only to the Angels in the whole major leagues. They had Rich Harden on the mound, who in his 12 games as a Cub posted a Sabathian 1.77 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and .157 BAA. The other was our home-town Brewers, who fired their manager 150 games into a 162-game season and needed last-second heroics to take out Jack Wilson's Pie-rats in Miller Park just to get here.
And when the dust cleared...
We're. Still. Here.
(A brief note to visiting Cub fans: we know you're upset, and we can't blame you. Today's Frosty Mug is not here to bury you, but to praise you: although bowing out of the playoffs this way was, well, shocking, for most of the season, your team was the class of the National League, hands down. The Cubs' performance this year has been the envy of just about every other team in baseball. Congratulations on a very fine season.)
A few notes on last night's Cream City Crushers/Phillies game:
- Since the All-Star Break, Dave Bush has been, well, pretty outstanding, with a quiet 3.91 ERA in 12 regular season starts.
- Jamie Moyer has been pitching in the majors for 22 seasons, and he turns 46 next month. Yet, he posted a 3.71 ERA this season for the Phillies. His contract expires after this season --- I hope he gets a long-term deal with someone, so he's pitching when he's 50. (Mark A., if you're reading this, I don't mean us, TYVM.)
- Rickie Weeks left last night's game in the third inning after spraining his knee while batting in the second. CBS Sportsline says he's questionable to play tonight.
- Mike Cameron's wife, JaBreka, had an emergency c-section on Friday. Lilo was born on 2:54 ET on Friday. Though Cam wasn't there to see it, he did get an assist from Mark Attanasio, who chartered a flight for to get to Atlanta. (Hat tip, TheJay.) Mike was in the lineup last night, and scored two runs. Curious side note: it was fortunate that Lilo made her appearance on an offday: if she arrived on a game day, the Brewers would have had to either play a man short or replace him --- making him ineligible for playing in the NLCS, if we get there.
- Jamie Moyer's 34 first-inning pitches last night were the most he'd thrown to start off a game all season.
- Shame Shane Victorino says that his attempt to break up last night's double-play in the 9th wasn't dirty. Note when he posted that --- 1:14 a.m. Having trouble sleeping, Shane?
Reasons for optimism for today's game? As a certain vice-presidential candidate might say, you betcha:
- MLB.com says there's a 42.6% chance that one of the four 2008 playoff teams who were down two games to none will come back to win the series. Already we're in elite company: going into yesterday, in the 16 NLDS games where a team had been down 2-0, 13 times they lost game 3.
- The Phillies have never won a NLDS. Never. Not once. In the storied history of National League Divisional Series, the Phillies have always LOST. I know there are a lot of math-type people here, so I'll put it in an equation: Philadelphia Phillies + NLDS = 0.
- If the Phillies lose today (PP+NLDS=0), we go back to Philadelphia with momentum and a rested CC Sabathia pitching. I think we might actually be favored to win that game, which makes today's game a must-win for Philadelphia. No pressure, guys. [***wiggles fingers to suggest putting the Whammy on the Phillies.***]
- Big-game pitcher Jeff Suppan is starting today's game. Jeff Suppan doesn't pitch in small games --- if it's only one game out of 162, he can't be bothered. He saves his "good" stuff for the postseason, like Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS against the Mets (7 innings, 1 run). That one game is probably the biggest reason why we signed him. In his last start on September 26 against the Cubs, he gave up 1 run in 5 innings against the Cubs. He's also made adjustments on his fastball, so watch out!
- As Friday's BTTW Frosty Mug noted, the last time the Brewers were down 0-2 in a best of 5 series, they won the final three against the Angels in the 1982 ALCS.
- Of course, we have the Rally Lobster.
A funny scene from yesterday's game:
"We've got two games at Miller Park, and we've got CC Sabathia in Game 5," Tooke said, snapping back to the present day. Just then, he looked up to see a fan, dressed in a suit of armor made entirely from empty beer cartons, march past.
"And we've got people like that," he said.
- HOTRL trivia: which 2008 Brewer has played for the greatest number of teams in his major-league career? The answer, well, when I post it in a game thread later.
Today's game is at 12:07 Central time, on TBS (very funny). Bud Selig is throwing out the first pitch. Here's your MLB preview to tide you over until the game thread.