Is it Do-or-Die Time for Cubs?

Is Thursday's National League Division Series Game 2 a do-or-die moment for the Cubs? It depends on who you ask.

"Yeah, it's pretty do-or-die," Cubs second baseman Mark DeRosa flatly told reporters at Thursday's customary pre-game media interview session at Wrigley Field. "You don't want to get on that four-and-a-half-hour plane flight down 0-2."

Chicago manager Lou Piniella wasn't too sure if he'd label it do-or-die.

"Oh, I don't look at that," Piniella said. "I think it would be a huge advantage for the Dodgers, but do-or-die? If we lose tonight, well, might as well just stay home and forfeit the game in Los Angeles. I don't see us doing that."

"You've got to win three ballgames in these things," Piniella added. "Obviously you get down 0-2 the advantage really swings, but not do-or-die. That I don't buy."


One thing Piniella and DeRosa both agree on is that the Cubs can't have another miserable performance similar to Game 1. The Cubs' pitchers walked eight batters, and their 1 through 5 hitters combined for just two hits in 19 at-bats. The result was a 7-2 Dodgers victory.

Piniella was asked prior to Thursday's game about the disappearance of his heavy hitters – Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez – in the postseason the past two years.

"I don't really have an answer for that," Piniella said. "Look, in postseason you're going to face good pitching. Every team that goes to postseason, pitchers, they know how to pitch. Usually they throw strikes and they can make pitches when they have to.

"I don't see anything else that I can point to."

Soriano specifically has been a weak spot for the Cubs in crunch time. He was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in Wednesday's loss and was 2-for-14 with four strikeouts in last year's NLDS against Arizona.

Piniella said it was unfair to judge Soriano based on his postseason performance (or lack thereof) alone.

"You can always point the finger wherever you want, but it's a team game," he said. "Just because one guy struggles doesn't mean that the team should struggle. Somebody else picks him up.

"The leadoff hitter sets the tone in a way for an offense, and when Soriano hits the ball well and has good offensive games, our club responds. But to say that if he doesn't do it we shouldn't score runs, that's not true."


Piniella said after Wednesday's loss that any changes to his lineup would be "wait and see." Indeed, the Cubs' skipper's lineup for Game 2 did include some changes.

Shortstop Ryan Theriot was moved back into the No. 2 spot (he hit eighth Wednesday) ahead of Lee and Ramirez, with uber-struggling right fielder Kosuke Fukudome going from second in the order Wednesday to eighth.

DeRosa, who batted seventh Wednesday, switched with catcher Geovany Soto in the fifth spot for Thursday's game.


Piniella was asked about the start times for Games 1 and 2 – 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., respectively – and whether they had any effect on his team (the Cubs are used to playing 7 p.m. starts for night games). He said with the team scheduled to leave for Los Angeles for Game 3, they consulted with "a sleep doctor" to determine whether the club should board their flight west after Thursday's game, or wait until Friday.

"He said that we should stay overnight tonight instead of travel after the game … so that everybody can get their full balance of sleep as opposed to sleeping all day tomorrow and not being able to sleep the night after," Piniella said. "We'll see if he's right or not after the third game, in Los Angeles."

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