Truth be told, Dempster simply struggled

 
 
Updated 10/1/2008 10:15 PM

Editor's note: Each day throughout the Cubs' playoff drive, we'll chat with Dan Plesac and share his answers to key questions.

Q. When Ryan Dempster got an 0-2 count on James Loney in the fifth with a pair of sinkers barely above the ground, why didn't Dempster keep burying pitches in the dirt until Loney chased another bad ball and struck out?

 

A. The last thing you want to do there is throw a ball in the middle of the plate. But that's what, at times, is so difficult about pitching: Not every pitch is going to go where you want it to go.

The truth is Ryan struggled with his control from the beginning of the game. He didn't have command of anything. It was just uncharacteristic.

He was going on his normal rest. You couldn't have asked for a better setup. He just struggled.

Q. Before this year, the Cubs had lost the first game of a playoff series 10 times and wound up losing all 10 series. Is it too soon to go out on the ledge?

A. It's Game 1. It's not the end of the world, but there's work to be done.

You had everything aligned the way you'd like to have it. The rotation, the bullpen, your hitters had some rest. This team has bounced back all season long. It's way too early to get close to the ledge.

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If Carlos Zambrano is the Carlos Zambrano we all know he can be -

Q. OK, which "Big Z" do you expect to show up for Game 2 today?

A. I don't know. He's a difficult guy to get a read on. He'll string together four or five great games, then have a few poor ones. Truthfully, with the exception of the no-hitter he threw in Milwaukee, he's had a poor second half. But it wouldn't surprise me if he came out and threw lights out.

Q. Some of the Cubs' hitters - Mark DeRosa, Ryan Theriot, Aramis Ramirez - did a nice job of taking Derek Lowe's outside pitches the other way. Is that the way to attack Chad Billingsley?

A. Yes. But the Cubs didn't always do that in Game 1. Go to the sixth inning. You're down 4-2 and get a leadoff double from Ramirez, but Soto strikes out and doesn't get him over to third. It's little things in close games that matter.

• Former Cubs pitcher Dan Plesac is Comcast SportsNet's Cubs studio analyst on "Cubs Pre-Game Live" and "Cubs Post Game Live." The Milwaukee Brewers' No. 1 pick in 1983, Plesac is sixth on MLB's all-time list with 1,064 appearances.

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