PHILADELPHIA – The matchup between Carlos Zambrano and Roy Halladay had all the elements of an old time faceoff between Bob Gibson vs. Ferguson Jenkins.
Cubs’ manager Mike Quade stopped short of calling Zambrano his ace, but he was interested in how the veteran would battle Halladay.
“We were talking earlier,” Quade said before Friday’s game. “I would pay to see this game. I hope it’s all we expect it to be. Hopefully [Halladay] won’t pitch well.”
Unfortunately for Quade and the Cubs Halladay pitched quite well, throwing seven shutout innings. As for Zambrano, he was decent, trailing 3-0 until the seventh then imploded.
Jimmy Rollins' led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice. At that point, Quade went out to the mound to speak with Zambrano and catcher Geovany Soto about facing either Chase Utley or Ryan Howard. They decided to walk Utley, but Zambrano then walked Howard. On Zambrano’s 128th and final pitch of the night, Placido Polanco – previously 2-for-15 in his career against Zambrano -- hit a grand slam that gave Philadelphia a 7-0 lead.
After the game, Quade admitted he told Zambrano to walk Utley.
“I wanted to walk Utley. I liked the matchup better [with Howard],” Quade said. “I know Z’s had success against Polanco. At that point you need him to gut up and get you through that situation. That’s what I asked him to do. He just wasn’t able to do it.”
Quade had bullpen issues from the team’s 11-inning game the previous night. Zambrano’s pitch count was the highest it’s been all season. However, he battled control problems all night, walking seven Phillies.
Zambrano’s night can be traced to a pair of mistakes – Polanco’s slam and Dominic Brown’s three-run homer in the second.
“I work hard to throw 120 or 130 pitches,” Zambrano said. “It’s not the first time I’ve thrown 120 pitches. I’ve been here for 10 years, if the team needs me to throw 150 pitches. I’ll be there for them.”
Zambrano was asked if he put more pressure on himself to gear up for the Phillies and Halladay, especially to backup comments he made last week calling out Carlos Marmol and calling his teammates Triple-A caliber.
“Probably,” Zambrano said. “Yeah, every time I go out there I like to be challenged. Pitching against Halladay is a challenge and is pressure. But like I said I have to cut the walks down. That was the key to today’s game.”