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Will numbers matter? Count on it

October 01, 2008|Dylan Hernandez

STATS Corner

The numbers may tell the story when the Dodgers and Cubs meet in the best-of-five-game National League division playoff series beginning this afternoon at Wrigley Field. Here are some facts and figures about the two clubs that might prove pivotal, provided by STATS LLC:

Ramirez is a road warrior

Manny Ramirez has hit 14 postseason home runs on the road, more than anyone else in baseball history. Ramirez's 29 runs batted in in playoff road games rank third all-time.

Ramirez's .396 average since joining the Dodgers is second all-time by a midseason acquisition.

Feast or famine for Lee and Edmonds

Derrek Lee and Jim Edmonds of the Cubs have combined to hit 25 home runs against the Dodgers, including two in seven games this season for Lee.

But their batting averages against the Dodgers are among the worst. Among players with at least 225 at-bats against the Dodgers, Edmonds is fourth from the bottom with a .248 average. Lee is fifth-worst, hitting .250.

Lowe gets low run support

Though Derek Lowe finished the season by going 6-1 over his last 10 starts, the Dodgers' Game 1 starter pitched well enough to deserve to win at least twice more.

In the 20 games he pitched in which he didn't get a win, his run support average was only 1.98. He has posted a 2.08 earned-run average in his last two starts at Wrigley Field but didn't win either time as the Dodgers scored a combined three runs in those games.

The way the Dodgers hit at Wrigley Field this season hardly inspires confidence. The Dodgers averaged a run per game and were swept in a three-game series there in late May.

Whatever team gets a lead will probably win

The Dodgers and Cubs know how to protect leads. Each team has lost only 31 times in games in which they were ahead, tying them for second fewest in the NL behind Philadelphia.

The Dodgers' bullpen is among the best in baseball, posting a 3.34 ERA (second in the majors) and an opponent batting average of .241 (first). The Cubs have a 4.10 bullpen ERA.

Don't count on many long balls

The Dodgers gave up 123 home runs this season, the fewest in the majors. The Dodgers and Cubs rank 1-2 in the majors in lowest opponent slugging percentage.

The Maddux factor

Greg Maddux made the Dodgers' postseason roster as a reliever, partly because of the insight he can pass on to other pitchers.

Maddux's seven appearances with the Dodgers this season were tough ones -- he was 2-4 with a 5.09 ERA -- and in his two stints with the Dodgers, he is 8-7.

But in 2006 and 2008, the team's rotation made significant turnarounds after he arrived -- it had a combined 4.22 ERA in the two seasons before Maddux was acquired and a 3.75 ERA afterward.

Opposite early-inning tendencies

The Dodgers tend to score early. They also tend to give up runs early. The exact opposite is true of the Cubs, who don't do or allow much damage in the first inning.

The Dodgers have scored 121 runs in the first inning, which is second in the major leagues to the New York Mets.

The Cubs have scored only 79 times in that inning, ranking them 24th in the majors.

But the Cubs held opponents to 70 first-inning runs (third in the majors), while the Dodgers have given up 97 (21st).

Cubs pitchers can hit

Dodgers pitchers shouldn't overlook the No. 9 spot in the Chicago lineup. Cubs pitchers hit .206 this season, the best of any NL team. Their six home runs were double Andruw Jones' 2008 total.

Carlos Zambrano is particularly dangerous. He hit .334 with four home runs and 14 runs batted in in 83 at-bats. He batted .417 against right-handers.

-- Dylan Hernandez

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