Game One Hundred Eighteen – Cubs 3 Astros 0
With an Update on Wade Miller
Carlos Zambrano shut the Astros down and Phil Nevin supplied all the runs the Cubs needed off of Roy Oswalt. Zambrano pitched around trouble all night and despite giving up 7 walks and striking out just 5, he held the Astros scoreless for 8 innings on just 4 hits….it was not his best outing of the year, but he was effective and most importantly he gave the Cubs a win.
Phil Nevin had a good night in the field and at the plate. Nevin was 3-4 with a home run and all 3 of the Cubs RBI’s….and was solid at 1st base as well. Nevin picked a couple out of the dirt and saved a run from scoring on a wild throw from Neifi Perez in the 6th. Ryan Dempster faced the minimum in the 9th, picked up his 24th save and combined with Zambrano on the 4-hit shutout of the Astros. Zambrano’s 13th win on the season puts him in a tie with Brad Penny and Brandon Webb for the most in the NL and his 13 wins on a team with just 50 is pretty remarkable….can anyone say Steve Carlton? Zambrano pitched around lead off walks in the 2nd, 5th and 8th innings and lead off doubles by Luke Scott in 4th and 6th innings. He threw 121 pitches, 65 for strikes and leads the Majors in pitches thrown per start….he has thrown at least 100 in every outing this season. He also leads the NL in strikeouts and walks allowed.
While Z has been effective, hopefully the amount of pitches he has thrown will not catch up to him and the Cubs down the road. Zambrano was allowed to throw the 8th inning, granted the bullpen needed the rest but if something was to have happened to him that late in a ballgame for a 50-win team, Dusty and company would not be able to get out of Chicago fast enough. Everyone wants the Cubs to win as many ballgames this year as possible, that is a given and while Zambrano is a legitimate Cy Young Award candidate, that is not the ultimate prize the organization should be aiming for….the Cubs must be careful with Zambrano, he is their future….everyone knows where the past has gotten them.
Zambrano was incredibly wild, to go along with the 7 walks, he threw a wild pitch and hit Aubrey Huff in the middle of the back with a 93 MPH fastball. But he did strike out Morgan Ensberg twice with runners in scoring position, including a bases loaded jam in 3rd. After the win on Monday night he is now 6-1 at Minute Maid Park and the Astros fans know it. They booed Zambrano in the 7th when he stepped to the plate….booing an opposition on a 50-win team that speaks volumes as to how special a player Zambrano actually is. What did Reggie Jackson used to say? “Fans don’t boo nobodies.”
The Cubs continued hitting on Monday against Oswalt and tallied 10 on the night but the 2 by Phil Nevin were the difference in the game. Michael Barrett and Jacque Jones were the only position players not to record a hit. Neifi Perez was 2-5 with a run scored and Aramis Ramirez was 2-4 with a run scored….he was also thrown out at the plate in the 2nd on a single to center by Matt Murton….one of these days the Cubs are going to learn not to run on Willy Taveras. Ronny Cedeno stole his 7th base of the season and Jones was the only Cub to receive a free pass.
Both teams got a scare in the ball game; Zambrano and Oswalt were shaken up on Monday. Ronny Cedeno hit a line drive off the back of Oswalt’s right hand in the 7th. The ball ricocheted off of his hand and was caught by Adam Everett. Oswalt stayed in the game, finished the inning but did not return in the 8th. In the 8th Zambrano was stepped on by Luke Scott attempting to beat out a double play. Scott grounded to Nevin, he went to Neifi at 2nd and Zambrano was covering 1st. Zambrano stayed in the game and finished the inning.
Zambrano ended his personal 2-game losing streak and avoided back-to-back road losses for the first time since May of 2005. Let’s see if the rookies play follow the leader.
Juan Mateo is scheduled to face Roger Clemens on Tuesday night at the Juice Box. This one should be interesting to watch….how will the rookie handle the pressure of facing the Rocket? We shall find out.
Wade Miller Update
According to a report on Cubs.com, Wade Miller will make his next rehab start on Wednesday for the I-Cubs against Round Rock Express (Houston Astros).
The report states “hopefully his final rehab start” and the most important news:
“Miller has talked to the Cubs about coming back in 2007. “We had an agreement that we wanted it to be more than one year,” he said.”