What on Earth was Carlos Zambrano still doing in the game in the seventh inning, throwing a total of 128 pitches?
There are only three pitchers in the major leagues who have thrown more pitches than that in a 2011 game, and their names are: Tim Lincecum (133), Justin Verlander (132) and Roy Halladay (130).
Hmmm. Maybe there's the rub. Halladay. Maybe Mike Quade saw Halladay across the way and figured his own starting pitcher had to go that far. Big, big mistake. Z was struggling with command throughout the game -- he walked seven, the most since his first start back last August -- and to leave him in that long, no matter how "overworked" the bullpen was perceived to be, was a colossal mistake.
You could almost predict that some sort of long home run would put the Cubs out of a game that they still (presumably) had a chance to win, given the state of the Phillies bullpen.
The lucky home run fellow was Placido Polanco, whose grand slam made it 7-0, and also allowed him to celebrate his 100th career homer. That took Z out of the game, probably an inning too late.
Nevertheless, that Phillies bullpen cooperated. Apart from closer Ryan Madson (who the Cubs touched up on Thursday night) and lefty setup man Antonio Bastardo (the Phillies' version of Sean Marshall), the Philadelphia bullpen has been almost as shaky as the Cubs'. And in the eighth inning, the Cubs put up five runs off of three Phillies relievers.
Imagine how good that would have felt if the score had been only 3-0, instead of 7-0. And they scored the five runs without benefit of a home run, which is even better.
However, that still left a two-run deficit. Darwin Barney led off the ninth with a walk -- not off Madson, who was given the night off, but off Michael Stutes, angling for his first major league save. Unfortunately, Barney thought that a strike-three pitch to Starlin Castro that bounced in the dirt got farther away from Carlos Ruiz than it did; Castro couldn't run due to the runner on first base (although he did start running anyway), but Barney was thrown out easily at second.
That left it to Bastardo to come in to face the lefthanded Carlos Pena, who he dispatched with a strikeout to end it.
The Cubs didn't figure to win this game with Roy Halladay on the mound. But considering how many runs the Cubs have scored off Philadelphia starters in this series (zero) and how many they've scored off Philly relievers in this series (nine), perhaps it would behoove Mike Quade to take his starting pitcher out of the game when he's thrown about 30 more pitches than he should have.
The two teams will play again this afternoon in a Fox-TV regional game. The game preview will be up at 1 p.m. CDT.