Game Eight: Cubs (5-2) vs. Reds (5-3)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T. on WGN TV, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 186
Carlos Zambrano (0-0, 4.22) vs. Eric Milton (1-0, 2.57)
Carlos Zambrano goes for his first win of the season against the Reds in the rubber game of the 3 game series. The Cubs look to finish the first home stand of the season with a 5-1 record and move to 4 games above .500 before heading to Pittsburgh for a weekend series against the Bucs. Zambrano pitched a lot better in his last outing against the Cardinals than on Opening Day against the Reds.
Zambrano will have his hands full with the left-handed power the Reds lineup will be stacked with on Wednesday….lefties are hitting .429 off of Z so far this season. Zambrano needs to pick up where Maddux and the bullpen left off on Wednesday…. Dusty will have a huge decision to make, Zambrano pitches better with Blanco behind the plate, but Barrett is swinging a hot stick and with Jones and Ramirez likely out, Derrek Lee could be the only deep threat in the lineup.
Jacque Jones and Aramis Ramirez are not expected to play against the Pirates today….look for Angel Pagan and Neifi Perez to get the start at right and third against Milton and Jerry Hairston should get the start at second. Hairston has a career average of .417 (5 for 12) against Milton.
The Cubs will need to play fundamental baseball to beat the Reds with the possibility of the “small ball line-up” taking the field today.
Thursday is the last game the Cubs will play in Wrigley until the 24th of April. The Cubs play their next 9 games on the road with stops in Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and St. Louis, with April 20th being their only day off during the road trip.