Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Braves – 04/18/07

Game Fourteen: Cubs (5-8) vs. Braves (9-4)
Game Time – 6:35pm C.T. Comcast Sports Net, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 184
Location – Turner Field, Atlanta

Carlos Zambrano (1-2, 7.88/1.75) vs. Kyle Davies (0-0, 2.70/1.05)

The Cubs open a quick 2-game road trip tonight in Atlanta against a Braves team that has played very good baseball in the first two weeks of the season. Carlos Zambrano will have his hands full against an offense that ranks 14th in the National League in hitting but one that provides results. One of the Braves’ strengths at the plate is one of Zambrano’s weaknesses. The Braves are very patient and rank 2nd (60) behind the Phillies (69) for the most walks in the National League. The Cubs need a solid outing from Carlos Zambrano to keep Lou Piniella from having to use his bullpen early and often.

Zambrano is coming off a very bad inning against the Reds last Friday afternoon. Zambrano was just short of unhittable until the 5th inning meltdown. Zambrano is not throwing strikes, at least not enough of them. In 16 innings this season he has walked 11 and struck out just 10. With the 17 hits he has allowed that is a total of 28 base runners in just 16 innings, no one can be successful with that many runners on base….no matter how good his “stuff” is. In 4+ innings in his last start, the only positive was he kept the Reds in the yard.

In 7 career starts against the Braves, Zambrano is 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. Andruw Jones (2-15 with a home run, 2 RBI’s, 5 walks and 6 strikeouts) and Chipper Jones (4-16, with a home run, 2 RBI’s and 3 walks) have had little success against Zambrano, Edgar Renteria (10-26 with a home run, 2 RBI’s, 5 walks and 7 strikeouts) has. Zambrano gave up just 2 runs on 2 hits, walked 6 and struck out 8 last season in his only start against the Braves (6 2/3 innings)….he received a no decision.

Tonight will be Kyle Davies’ second start of the season. Against the Mets on April 8th he pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up just 2 runs (2 solo home runs) on 4 hits, walked 3 and struck out 8. Davies missed most of the 2006 season with a right groin injury that required surgery. Last season he was 3-7 in 14 starts with an 8.38 ERA and a 1.94 WHIP while opponents hit .332 against him. He has 1 career start against the Cubs in 2005 at Turner Field. Davies threw 6 2/3 shutout innings, gave up 4 hits, walked 4 and struck out 3. Aramis Ramirez is the only Cub with at least 2 hits against Davies (2-3). Several reports from Davies’ outing against the Mets were very positive and many think the talented right-hander might have turned the corner on his career.

With the 14-inning marathon on Tuesday, Carlos Zambrano must go deep in the game and allow the bullpen to receive some much-needed rest….of the six arms now available out of the pen only Scott Eyre and Will Ohman threw an inning or less on Tuesday. The Cubs need Zambrano to step up and give his team a victory.

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….

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