Monday, September 15, 2008

A magical season

Who would have thunk it?

A no-hitter from Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano, who hadn't pitched since Sept. 2 because of shoulder tendinitis. Against the red-hot Houston Astros, who are about to overtake the fading Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central and wild-card. At Milwaukee's Miller Park because the series was moved out of Houston because of Hurricane Ike.

Who would have thunk it?

Big Z was superb last night, allowing only a walk at a hit batter while striking out 10 in the Cubs' 5-0 victory. He was truly unhittable, throwing the first no-no by a Cub since Milt Pappas in 1972. The crowd, which was 99% Cubs fans (it is only a 90-mile drive from Chicago to Milwaukee), roared its approval on almost every pitch.

More importantly, it gave the Cubs a 7 1/2-game lead over the Brewers, who lost a doubleheader yesterday and were swept in four games at Philadelphia. The Cubs magic number to clinch either a playoff berth or the NL Central title is down to seven (any combination of seven Cubs victories or Brewers losses).

And as for the whining Astros, who complained about the series being moved to Milwaukee? Get over it. I'm sure other venues were scouted for this series, but I'm sure the dome over Miller Park had a lot to do with the series being moved where it was. I feel badly for the people of south Texas, but the Astros just need to shut up and play ball. They're getting paid millions to do what many of us can only dream about.

Onward and upward. This season is going places most of us never thought possible. Let's hope Ted Lilly can complete the "Wrigley North" sweep today.

Big Z no-hitter photo courtesy AP

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