After an exhilarating performance from young first baseman James Loney during Game One of the NLDS, Game Two will see another young guy in pitcher Chad Billingsley in his first postseason start.
Loney’s grand slam on Wednesday helped propel the Dodgers over the Chicago Cubs, 7-2, and take Game One of the five-game series. Russell Martin, in his third season, and veteran Manny Ramirez each hit a solo home run.
The final run in Los Angeles’ victory came from a single by Casey Blake, scoring rookie Blake DeWitt, who was sitting on third after hitting a triple deep into the outfield.
In Game Two on Thursday, the 24-year-old Billingsley, who has already pitched in 96 major league games in his first two seasons, will try to make his growing experience pay off and turn in a start worthy of some attention.
Over his career, Billingsley is 35-19 with an ERA of 3.33. During the 2008 season, he went 16-10 with an ERA of 3.14 in over 200 innings. Despite his position as the No. 2 pitcher, Billingsley leads the staff in wins and has the lowest ERA among Dodger starters.
Billingsley pitched at Wrigley Field on May 26, giving up two runs and striking out seven over six innings but took the loss, 3-1.
He will have no easy matchup for his first postseason start: The Cubs named Carlos Zambrano as their starting pitcher in Game Two. Billingsley should take the mound with confidence, since he's pitching alongside the likes of postseason veterans Greg Maddux and Derek Lowe.
As reported on the official Dodgers website:
"From what guys I've talked to and what they've said, you approach it as any other start," Billingsley said. "You don't want to go out there and do too much. You really want to try to stay within your game."
If the Dodgers’ bats keep swinging the way they’ve been swinging, Billingsley has nothing to be worried about.
Game Three is set for Saturday, Oct. 4 in Los Angeles at 7:07 p.m. PT.
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