If both teams pitch to their capabilities, and if the wind isn't blowing out in gusts at Wrigley Field, there should be at least an occasional low-scoring contest in this series. At some point, the Cubs may have to play for one run and make it work.
Diamondbacks' Lineup vs. Cubs' Pitching: The Diamondbacks on offense are statistical rarities. This is a team that was outscored this season, yet led the National League in victories. That isn't supposed to happen. The D-backs were 14th in the league in runs scored, and still had 90 victories. That isn't supposed to happen, either.
The Cubs' starting pitching, unless Carlos Zambrano is in near-no-hitter form, is more effective than overpowering. But Carlos Marmol has been a revelation in relief for the Cubs, Bob Howry continues to be sturdy in a setup role and Ryan Dempster, while he is not often mentioned among the elite closers, has a save percentage that is just fine.
Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano vs. D-backs closer Jose Valverde: The game is on the line. Which likely outcome do you like better? The home run or the strikeout?
D-backs outfielder Chris Young vs. Marmol: Maybe the game is on the line, and maybe it isn't. OK, let's say it is. It will be a treat in any case to see the contest between two of the game's most exciting young talents.
Cubs Secret Weapon:
Catcher Geovany Soto tore up Triple-A this season, being named the Pacific Coast League Player of the Year. He obviously doesn't have the experience of Jason Kendall, and he's brand new to this level. But his bat could be a real difference-maker for the Cubs in this postseason.
Cubs' Achilles' Heel:
The Cubs spent much of the season stranding runners. If that happens again, the World Series drought reaches the century mark.
Whatever else you say about Lou Piniella, he took charge of this team, changed the culture and remained the no-nonsense, straight-ahead character he always was -- just what the doctor ordered. He has won a World Series before, and if he wins again, he's among the managerial giants.
This is now a workmanlike operation. Problem: The first time trouble arises, there will be all those people whispering in their ears about the 99-year thing. That isn't the fault of these Cubs, but that stuff can wear on a team.
Three Reasons Why the Cubs Will Win:
They are more likely than the D-backs to change the course of game with one swing.
This is sometimes overlooked, but the Cubs had the second-best team ERA in the National League. That's the kind of thing that wins in October.
In the name of Tinker, Evers and Chance and all that Ernie Banks holds holy, isn't it their turn?