Game One – Opening Day: Cubs (0-0) vs. Reds (0-0)
Game Time – 1:10pm C.T. WGN TV, ESPN2, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati
Carlos Zambrano (0-0, -.–) vs. Aaron Harang (0-0, -.–)
For the second year in a row the Cubs start the season in Cincinnati and also for the second year in a row it is Carlos Zambrano versus Aaron Harang. Zambrano is coming off of a 16-7 campaign in 2006 with a 3.41 ERA, a 1.29 WHIP, struck out 210, walked 115 and held his opponents to a .208 batting average. Zambrano has predicted a Cy Young award for himself and a World Championship for the Cubs and the Faithful. This will be Zambrano’s third consecutive start on Opening Day for the Cubs and he has not figured in the outcome of the previous two. In 2005 the Cubs beat the Diamondbacks in the desert 16-6 but Zambrano was ejected in the 5th inning. Last year, Zambrano was on the hill when the Cubs beat the Reds 16-7 but was ineffective and did not figure into the decision. Zambrano is the ace of the Cubs and after a rough April in 2006 that did not see him post a victory due to multiple reasons….ineffectiveness and poor run support, the Cubs need him to start fast and be the pitcher he is capable of being, throughout an entire season.
Zambrano was 3-2 with a 3.76 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP last season against the Reds and the last time he pitched in the Queen City, he hit his 6th home run of the season that tied him with Ferguson Jenkins for the most home runs by a pitcher in the history of the Cubs organization. Big Z is 8-5 with a 2.80 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP in his career against the Reds.
Aaron Harang is coming off a career year and with it, came a contract extension this past off-season. Harang and Bronson Arroyo have been given the title as the aces of the Reds and the best duo in the National League Central, by the local Reds media. The Cubs will face Arroyo on Wednesday but they face one of the most underrated pitchers in the National League today. Harang was 16-11 with a 3.76 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP, struck out 216 and walked just 56 in 2006. Against the Cubs last season he was 1-1 with a 5.14 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP (14 innings, 15 hits, 12 k’s, 3 walks and 3 home runs) and for his career against the Cubs, he is 5-1 with a 4.26 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP.
The Cubs offense had a good spring and the pitching staff did as well, but none of that matters now.
Lou Piniella’s Opening Day Lineup:
- Alfonso Soriano – CF
- Matt Murton – LF
- Derrek Lee – 1B
- Aramis Ramirez – 3B
- Jacque Jones – RF
- Michael Barrett – C
- Mark DeRosa – 2B
- Cesar Izturis – SS
- Carlos Zambrano – P
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….