Game One Hundred Eight: Cubs (57-50) vs. Mets (61-47)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T. WGN, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 186
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Carlos Zambrano (14-7, 3.47/1.23) vs. Orlando Hernandez (7-4, 3.02/1.09)
The Cubs open up a big 3-game series today against the best team in the National League, the New York Mets. The Cubs enter play just a percentage point ahead of the Brewers for first place in the central and will turn to their ace to get them back in the win column. Kerry Wood will make his return to the Cubs today and reportedly he will be used in the 6th and 7th innings in order to build up his arm strength. The Mets are coming off very good series in Milwaukee and will look to continue their dominance of the top two teams in the central. The Cubs offense must continue to score runs, but it all starts with the National League Pitcher of the Month for July, Carlos Zambrano. Carlos Zambrano will face arguably the best offense in the league with two of the most exciting young players in the majors, Jose Reyes and David Wright. The Mets will be without the services of Carlos Beltran who was put on the DL on July 31st (retroactive to July 25th) with a strained oblique but their top prospect, Lastings Milledge, is finally playing up to his billing. The Mets received a shot in the arm on Monday when the traded Drew Butera and Dustin Martin to the Twins for Luis Castillo and both Reyes and Castillo will look to run on Jason Kendall and Koyie Hill all weekend.
Zambrano is coming off an unreal month. He was 5-1 in 6 starts with a 1.38 ERA and he has allowed just 2 earned runs since the All-Star break. In his last 4 starts Zambrano has allowed 2 runs on 12 hits 25 1/3 innings (0.71 ERA) and is coming off his best start of the season. He threw 7 1/3 innings of shutout ball against the Reds and gave up just 2 hits while walking 3 and striking out 6….Zambrano also added a 3-for-4 afternoon at the plate.
Zambrano beat the Mets back on May 15th before “his season started” and at the time that was his first “Zambrano-like” outing of the year. He held the Mets to 1 run on 6 hits in 8 innings and picked up his 4th win of the season.
Zambrano has pitched better on the road this season than at Wrigley. He is 5-5 in 11 starts at the Friendly Confines with a 4.26 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. Today will be his 5th career start against the Mets. Zambrano is 3-1 in 5 career games with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP.
- Luis Castillo – 5-10, with a RBI
- Shawn Green – 4-11, with 3 doubles, a home run and 2 RBI’s
Orlando Hernandez….”El Duque” will look to continue his remarkable season. He has been tremendous for Willie Randolph this season and is 3-1 with a 3.60 ERA in his last 5 starts. El Duque is throwing strikes and working deep in ball games. He has pitched at least 6 innings in 6 of his last 7 starts and has held opponents to 2 earned runs or less in 5 of his last 7 starts. Hernandez is coming off a win against the Nationals in which he gave up just 1 run on 3 hits in 7 innings and recorded his 2nd highest strikeout total of the year with 8.
Today will be El Duque’s second career start and appearance against the Cubs. He lasted just 1 2/3 innings on July 16th of last year at Wrigley. The Cubs scored 5 runs on 7 hits in his second shortest outing of the year but he received a no decision as the Cubs lost the game 13-7.
- Jacque Jones – 8-24, with 2 doubles and 3 RBI’s
- Derrek Lee – 2-3, with a double, a home run and 3 RBI’s
- Alfonso Soriano – 5-12, with 3 doubles, a home run and 3 RBI’s
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….