The First Step Towards Erasing the Memory of Jose Lima…

…starts today. It’s kind of hard to drum up the same sort of vitriol for the Cubs as you would for a team like the Padres or the Giants, though, isn’t it? I mean, how can you hate the Cubs? Honestly, if the Dodgers should get knocked out, I’m probably rooting for the Cubs to be the ones to take it. Besides – even Cubs fans know that Bill Plaschke is awful, judging by the most recent post on Cubs blog Wrigleyville23.
So let’s get it on. You know we don’t usually do game previews and recaps around here, but I’d say it’s safe to ratchet things up to “Code Blue” for the duration of the playoffs.
Game 1 Dodgers lineup

Furcal SS
Martin C
Manny LF
Ethier RF
Loney 1B
Kemp CF
DeWitt 2B
Blake 3B
Lowe P
No surprises here, and that’s a good thing. I wish you could have placed bets on things like “the Dodgers will make the playoffs and none of Juan Pierre, Andruw Jones, and Jeff Kent will be in the Game 1 lineup.” Really, I can’t complain about any of this, though it is extremely interesting to see Casey Blake batting 8th. And how good does it feel to see “Furcal” penciled in at the top again?
Game 1 starters  - Derek Lowe (14-11, 3.24 ERA) vs Ryan Dempster (17-6, 2.96 ERA)
Look, both of these guys have had excellent years, Dempster in particular. But the most important thing to know here is that Derek Lowe has been absolutely out of his mind good lately. Dig these stats over his last nine starts – 5-1, 0.94 ERA, and he’s allowing batters just a .193/.234/.238 line. Remember, that’s not just a good start or two; this goes back about six weeks. He’s given up just 6 earned runs in 9 starts! In addition, Lowe’s playoff tested, having been in 18 games (7 starts) in which he’s put up a 3.36 ERA.
Even better, Lowe’s had good success against the Cubs this year, giving up just 3 earned runs in 14 innings over 2 starts in 2008. Let’s look at Lowe’s career stats against some of the Cubs he’ll be facing today who’ve seen him more than ten times:
Alfonso Soriano: .245/.259/.453 in 53 at-bats
Jim Edmonds: .167/.194/.300 in 30 at-bats
Derrek Lee: .393/.433/.536 in 28 at-bats
Aramis Ramirez: .154/.267/.231 in 13 at-bats
Reed Johnson: .364/.364/.455 in 11 at-bats
Clearly, Lowe needs to pitch around Derrek Lee, but otherwise that’s pretty good (Johnson is unlikely to be in the starting lineup). Considering how hot he’s been lately and his history of postseason success, the Dodgers look to be in pretty good shape.
As for Dempster, he’s been no slouch either, also going 5-1 over the same final nine starts as Lowe, but while is 3.05 ERA is certainly in no way lousy, it’s not exactly Lowe’s 0.94 either. Just like Lowe, Dempster made two starts against today’s opponent this year and did pretty well, giving up just 4 earned runs in 12.1 innings. Let’s check out the Dodgers against him with ten or more at-bats:
Jeff Kent: .273/.324/.364 in 33 at-bats
Rafael Furcal: .214/.371/.321 in 28 at-bats
Juan Pierre: .417/.500/.500 in 12 at-bats
Andre Ethier: .455/.455/.909 in 11 at-bats
There is nothing that makes me happier than seeing that Andre Ethier has had some really good success against Dempster, considering that he’s been killing the entire sport over the last two months.
Dempster does have one other thing going for him, though – as reported by Deadspin just about a year ago, he gives, let’s say, “entertaining” autographs to female fans.

- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness msti-face.jpg

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