I'm hearing reports that Cubs fans are calling for Lou Piniella's head in the wake of the White Sox's 6-0 victory over their crosstown rivals Friday at U.S. Cellular Field.
I have a message for my Cub fan friends: Piniella didn't lose you the game today. Carlos Zambrano did. It's amazing to me how Zambrano never fails to implode when pitching against the Sox on the South Side. He had a similar meltdown in a 6-0 loss this same weekend last year as well.
In that game, he threw a wild pitch on a suicide squeeze attempt that gave the Sox a gift run. He also intentionally hit both Scott Podsednik and DeWayne Wise with pitches. Before the sixth inning was over, Zambrano was gone and so were the Cubs' chances of winning.
Today, Zambrano outdid himself. He made sure the Cubs had no chance to win by the time the first inning was over. The first batter of the game, Juan Pierre, hit a chopper down the first base line that Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee couldn't reach. Leadoff double. Inexplicably, Zambrano seemed to think Lee should have made that play. The volatile pitcher went into full self-destruct mode and gave up four runs on four hits to the first five batters of the inning. With Jake Peavy dealing for the White Sox, that was game, set and match.
Then, Zambrano went after the classy veteran Lee in the dugout between innings and had to be restrained. Piniella wisely removed Zambrano from the game and replaced him with Tom Gorzelanny, but the damage had been done. One thing is for certain: Derrek Lee did not hang an 0-2 slider to Carlos Quentin in the first inning Friday. Zambrano did, and Quentin knocked it out of the yard for a three-run homer.
As for the White Sox, this is their first 10-game win streak since May 18-26 of 1976. That was roughly two months before I was born, and I'm soon to be 34 years old. Of course, the 1976 Sox finished 64-97, so that wasn't a team you want to emulate.
The current Sox sit at 38-34, which puts them in relatively good shape to do better than the 1976 squad. Sox starting pitchers are now 12-1 with a 2.03 ERA over the last 15 games.
Peavy seems to have found his stuff ... only three hits over seven innings with nine strikeouts on Friday. He is now 3-1 with 1.20 ERA over his last four outings. Of course, almost every Sox pitcher has been posting similarly impressive numbers. That's how you go on an extended winning streak like this.