Ryan Dempster walked 7 batters in the month of September. So far, he has walked 7 in October.
Yes, it's true, nobody is going to win walking that many guys--unless god favors them--which is not the case with the Cubs. But the part that's hardest to stomach is that Dempster was almost unbeatable at home, never walks that many guys and oh yeah, it's Game 1 of the NLDS, where the Game 1 winner has won the series 23 of 26 times.
If you don't think playoff nerves got to Ryan Dempster in his first post-season start, than you obviously have to believe in curses because there's is no other explanation as to why in the first game of the playoffs, your arguably best pitcher has one of his worst games of the year. The way all of his pitches were snapping upward was painful--he was overthrowing and unable to keep the ball down, which is generally his strength.
The nerves didn't just show with Dempster; Sean Marshall, though impressive in his 2.1 innings of work, had some shakiness at the start and Jeff Samardzija was a bit wild and gave up a few big hits. When you think about in general how young and unseasoned a lot of this pitching staff is, particularly when it comes to the playoffs, you've got get a bit worried that this team can get it done.
Losing 7-2 at home was an embarrassment. You're favored to win the pennant and then your offense just lays down a big one after the second inning and gives up three home runs with the wind blowing mostly in.
Like I mentioned, teams operate in three major groups: starters, hitting and bullpen. This is particularly true for a team with as balanced of an attack as the Cubs. I mentioned the Cubs' starters as being key for this series. However, if they did run into trouble, they'd need to be picked up by the other two. With the exception of some home runs, that was mostly the case for the bullpen. The hitting, however, was anything but clutch. Alfonso Soriano continues to prove why he'll never be a great player because he gets stymied by the playoffs.
So how do you bounce back? Well, you expected Carlos Zambrano might do this on Thursday night. If anyone was going to go wild on you and force you to take him out early, you thought it'd be him. Well, now Carlos has to go out and prove why he's the ace of the staff and mow down the Dodgers. If he can't, it'll be very hard for the Cubs to win again.
If the Cubs don't take Game 2, they probably won't and don't deserve to win the series. As much as they have the pitching talent to do it, it's unrealistic to expect a team to come off a losing streak and beat another team twice in a row in their own park. At the same time, as far as curse-breaking is concerned, bouncing back down 0-2 to take a series might be just what the Cubs have to do.
Either way, it's already an uphill climb for the Cubs, not that it hasn't been for the last century.