Pressure taking huge toll on Cubs
Editor's note: Each day throughout the Cubs' playoff drive, we'll chat with Dan Plesac and share his answers to key questions.
Q. Now is it fair to go out on the ledge?
A. If you do, then you better take your keys, your wallet and a clean pair of underwear.
Q. To put it another way, do the Cubs look as tense as their fans?
A. I think you hit the nail right on the head. When you have some plays like they did in the second inning (DeRosa's error and Lee's error), there have been some plays you haven't seen all year long. I think there's a lot of pressure on this team. You know, this team didn't come from no place like some other Cubs teams. They had high expectations in spring training and all the way through. This isn't the team that we saw for the first 162 games. I think they're playing not to lose.
Q. When you were on a team that needed to loosen up, what would you or your teammates do to lighten the mood?
A. There isn't one particular (off-the-field) thing you can do to take a tense atmosphere and loosen it up.
The best thing you can do is get a good performance from your starting pitcher. And get a big hit early and get on top of someone.
The disappointing thing to me is, you have the grand slam in Game 1 and the Cubs are down 4-2 - but it had the feeling like it was 10-2.
Look at the first inning in Game 2. (Alfonso) Soriano gets into scoring position with nobody out and (Ryan) Theriot isn't able to get him over to third.
I'm not saying it would have changed everything, but if you get a run in the first inning, maybe you put pressure on their young pitcher (Chad Billingsley) and you build a little momentum.
Q. In his first 2 innings, Carlos Zambrano threw 41 pitches and 39 of them were fastballs. Why did he do that?
A. I really don't second-guess any of his pitches. He actually threw pretty well.
There were two pitches in the second inning that should have gotten him out of the inning without any runs. You can't give a team five outs in an inning.
Plays have to be made behind you. I know errors are part of the game, but you need to make those plays - and you need to hit.
They've become just like last year. If you just landed here on a spaceship after spending a year on Mars, you'd be hard-pressed to believe this was the best offensive team in the National League.
• 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.