At 3:40 p.m. Friday, in the bowels of Wrigley Field, a man driving a forklift stopped it and parked it in front of the visitors’ clubhouse. The forklift was hauling several boxes of Korbel champagne.
At 3:40 p.m. Friday, in the bowels of Wrigley Field, a man driving a forklift stopped it and parked it in front of the visitors’ clubhouse.
The forklift was hauling several boxes of Korbel champagne.
Hmmm. Try to guess what that’s for ...
Arizona, which has a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five National League Division Series, faces the Cubs at 5 p.m. today. The Diamondbacks hope to break into those boxes by 8 or 9 p.m. and start celebrating with the champagne.
The Cubs, meanwhile, are hoping to sweep the D-backs today and Sunday to knot the series at 2 -- and to keep the Korbel bottles sealed.
The North Siders are also trying to become just the eighth team in baseball history to win a best-of-five postseason series after being down 2-0. One of the teams that did so was Cubs skipper Lou Piniella’s 1995 Seattle Mariners, who accomplished it against the New York Yankees in the AL Division Series.
“It can be done,” Piniella said with authority Friday. “But then again, you can’t look past (today’s) game. That’s the one you need to win. It would be nice to win three games in one day, but it’s not going to happen.
“So let’s go out and play a good baseball game. Win in front of the home crowd and hopefully putting a little pressure on this Arizona club.”
About that ...
This Arizona club is playing with several rookies and players without previous playoff experience. Yet in the comforts of Chase Field in Phoenix, the Diamondbacks looked like old hands in the playoff pressure cooker.
“We’re going to continue to look at it the same way, which is day-to-day and not get too far ahead of ourselves,” D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. “We took two games at home. Obviously, this (Wrigley Field) isn’t like playing at home. Very passionate fans, but a great place to play. I know our guys are looking forward to the atmosphere here.”
Arizona infielder Augie Ojeda, a former Cub who’s hit .571 in the series, is looking forward to playing again at Wrigley. He played with the Cubs from 2000-03, shuttling back and forth between Chicago and Triple-A Iowa.
“It feels pretty special here,” Ojeda said. “You know, the fans kind of took me under their wing. It’s a special feeling for me coming back. I just want to go out there and do the best I can. My first game, the fans chanted my name. And they did it until my last game. All the memories are fond, and I will cherish them forever.”
Winning today’s game would give the Cubs hope for a variety of reasons.
- If the Cubs stay alive, Carlos Zambrano -- who’s allowed one earned run in his last 19 innings --would pitch Sunday on three days’ rest. He was removed from Wednesday’s Game 1 with the score tied at 1 after throwing six innings (85 pitches) in anticipation of Sunday’s game. The Cubs went on to lose Wednesday’s game 3-1, after normally reliable reliever Carlos Marmol allowed two seventh-inning runs.
- If the Cubs win today and Zambrano can outduel Arizona’s Micah Owings in Game 4, the series would move back to Arizona for Game 5 on Tuesday. A Ted Lilly-Brandon Webb matchup would not favor the Cubs, on paper, but that’s getting a little too far ahead.
The Cubs are just looking at today’s battle -- and hoping that champagne doesn’t get used in the visitors locker room this weekend.
--The Daily Southtown