OK, now three more just like that

It was nice to finally breathe during a Cubs playoff game, although I did experience some shortness of breath caused by the increasing rage I felt for Dusty Baker as he sent Mark Prior out inning after inning in spite of the huge lead.

Why not take him out in the sixth and let Juan Cruz get some work in too? Is Alfonseca so wonderful that he couldn’t use some opportunities to figure out these Marlins hitters? They’d have a day’s rest tomorrow if needed Friday, which is unlikely because Wood’s pitching. Oh, well. Enough moaning.

It’s true the Cubs won’t win many 9-8 ballgames, but they won’t lose many in which they score 13, either. Mark Redman and Dontrelle Willis may present the Cubs with more problems than Beckett or Penny did in these first two games, but needless to say if the Cubbies keep hitting like this they will not lose this series.

My analysis, though, is that the Cubs hit a lot of mistake pitches. The Sosa, Ramirez and Gonzalez homers today were hit off major mistakes, for example, and the Marlins really haven’t had anyone pitch well for them yet. So it’s hard to get too confident about this offensive output, because I think Redman is perfectly capable of throwing strikes and getting good location and the Cubs will be back to their usual scrapping for three to five runs.

Still, it is great to see Gonzalez get hot, with three home runs in the last three games. It’s nice to know that the bottom third of the order is not a complete black hole.

I still believe Friday is a must win. The Miami crowd will be very difficult to handle, and even a single Marlins baserunner will send it into a frenzy. Getting that first game will be key because then I think the Cubs could approach games four and five with the notion that stealing just one of those will send them back to Wrigley with Prior and Wood back-to-back to get the fourth win and advance.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox stole one from the Yankees, who could not figure out the Tim Wakefield knuckler. Now the BoSox have their two best starters, Derek Lowe and Pedro Martinez, going in games two and three with a very good chance to go up 3-0 or at least 2-1.

The magic number for a Cubs-Red Sox World Series is now six.

Go Cubs! Go Red Sox!