Game Sixty-One: Cubs (24-36) vs. Reds (34-25)
Game Time – 5:10pm C.T. Comcast SportsNet, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati
Carlos Zambrano (4-3, 3.09) vs. Brandon Claussen (3-6, 5.40)
Carlos Zambrano is coming off his best start of the season, a 1-hit combined shutout of the Houston Astros and looks to give the Cubs a much-needed win tonight in Cincinnati. Zambrano has been at the top of his game as of late and will need the offense to put up the numbers it did in support of Greg Maddux on Friday night. Zambrano is 4-2 in his last 10 starts with a 2.66 ERA after a shaky start to the season, which saw him lose both games he started against the Reds in April. Zambrano is 5-5 with a 2.97 ERA in 18 career games against the Reds but is 0-2 with a 5.94 ERA this season. Zambrano, like the rest of the Cubs staff, has allowed the Reds to hit 5 home runs in those two games and his walk to strike out ratio against the Reds is very troublesome. Zambrano has walked 8 and struck out only 13 in 10 2/3 innings of work while giving up 11 hits and 10 runs (9 earned). This is a different Zambrano that the Reds will be facing this time around, Zambrano has settled down and become more like the Zambrano that the Cubs were depending on when the season started. Zambrano (93) is currently 1 strikeout behind Pedro Martinez (94) for the Major League lead in k’s….he has walked 49 this season.
The Cubs will face Brandon Claussen tonight and the Cubs and Greg Maddux beat Claussen on May 30th….the rain-delayed game. The Cubs have had their troubles against left-handers this season and are 5-12 against them despite beating Claussen just a little over a week ago and once earlier in the season. Claussen was sharp before the 61-minute rain delay and never got back on track after the lay off. Claussen has pitched well this season for the Reds at times but consistency is what he needs to improve on and if the Cubs allow him to do so, he will beat himself. Claussen is 1-5 with a 7.36 ERA against the Cubs in his career, he is 0-2 this season and in 10 innings of work has allowed 9 runs (7 earned) on 11 hits, walked 4 and struck out 5.
If the Cubs and Reds are able to play tonight….it is currently raining in Cincinnati with little if any relief in sight….Carlos Zambrano needs to give his team at least 7 strong innings and leave with the game in hand. A win tonight could guarantee a .500 road trip, they are 4-4 thus far with 2 games left and would be a marked improvement on the 10 game under .500 record they currently have on the road (12-14 home record….12-22 road record). The bullpen needs as much rest as possible with Carlos Marmol scheduled to make his first career start on Sunday against another lefty….Eric Milton who has been better than advertised as of late.
Juan Pierre has to start hitting and take the pressure of off the rest of the team to try to score runs with 1 or 2 outs in an inning. His lack of execution and fundamentals this season has been more than disappointing. Carlos Zambrano needs to limit his pitches and free passes and if the Reds go yard, like they did off of Maddux, he has to keep them to solo shots.
Let’s (hopefully) Talk Cubbies Baseball….
If the game is rained out or delayed, feel free to talk about whatever is on your mind.