Game Twenty-Seven: Cubs (12-14) vs. Nationals (9-19)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T. WGN TV, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 184
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Carlos Zambrano (2-2, 5.77/1.63) vs. Jason Bergmann (0-2, 2.79/1.10)
With the flip of the calendar, the Cubs offense appears to be heading in the right direction, especially one Alfonso Soriano….now it is time for Carlos Zambrano to have another solid May. In 24 career starts (28 total appearances) in May, Zambrano is 9-7 with 2 complete games and 1 shutout with a 2.15 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. Big Z is coming off his best start of the season, with a solid performance against the Nationals today he would extend the Cubs mini 2 game winning streak and bring his team within a game of .500. Carlos Zambrano’s performance last Saturday against the Cardinals was his best of the year; he threw strikes while not allowing a walk for the first time in 6 starts. His strikeout totals may be down on the year (25 in 34 1/3 innings) but once he starts showing his command is back….his strikeout numbers will increase. Teams have been very patient against Zambrano, have taken a lot of pitches and have waited for him to implode….of the 617 pitches he has thrown, only 363 have been for strikes (58%).
Lou Piniella needs the Carlos Zambrano that was unhittable last May and June to show up for work the next eight weeks. Zambrano was 3-1 (6 starts) with a 1.90 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP last May….in June he was 3-0 (5 starts) with a 1.96 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP. He gave up just 17 runs on 45 hits in 79 1/3 innings while striking out a season high 47 in May (74 total in both months). Zambrano walked 22 in May and a season low 15 in June….for more than a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio. Now that is an ace of a staff.
Zambrano is 3-2 in 8 career games (6 starts) against the Nationals with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP with nearly a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio (37 k’s, 13 walks). Last season he threw 8 shutout innings, allowed 4 hits while striking out 8 and walking 2 in his only start against the Nationals (1-0).
Jason Bergmann will make his first career start and appearance against the Cubs. Only two current Cubs have faced Bergmann with both Scott Eyre and Cliff Floyd being 0-1. The Cubs have struggled with pitchers they are not familiar with and unfortunately will see a very good pitcher today…. Bergmann has been lights out in his last four starts that includes a 6-inning shutout performance against the Braves. While he has not recorded a win for a team that is offensively challenged, he has given them every opportunity to put a win on the board. In his last outing against the Mets, he lost 1-0 and gave up just 1 run, a home run by Carlos Beltran, on 2 hits, struck out 6 and walked 3. In his last two starts (13 innings) he has allowed 3 runs, 2 earned, on just 5 hits but he has walked (5) while striking out 11.
The Cubs need to post a few wins at home and continue sending Lou Piniella’s ship in the right direction. It all starts with Z today….
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