Game Ninety-Seven: Cubs (57-39) vs. Astros (45-51)
Game Time – 6:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 188
Location – Minute Maid Park, Houston
Carlos Zambrano (10-3, 2.84/1/23) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (4-3, 3.48/1.28)
Lou Piniella’s crew will try to pick up their first win of the second half tonight behind their ace, Carlos Zambrano. Starting pitching was not the problem on Friday night, it was the offense’s inability to make Brian Moehler work that was the difference. The Cubs offense must make Wandy Rodriguez pitch his way into trouble and the key for tonight will be the Cubs putting themselves into hitter’s counts.
The Cubs enter play tonight 3 games ahead of the Cardinals and 4 ahead of the Brewers in need of a win on the road behind their ace.
In other news….Rich Hill struggled in what is being called a rehab assignment with the Daytona Cubs on Friday night. Hill is still on the I-Cubs roster, but his status is listed as being on a rehab assignment on the Class A roster. Hill allowed 6 runs, 5 earned, on 6 hits with 3 walks and 6 strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings. Hill struck out 4 of the first 6 batters he faced before struggling with his command.
Kerry Wood’s blister appears to be a little more than originally thought. Wood was not available on Friday night and according to a report from the Sun-Times, he is listed as day-to-day. Lou Piniella does not think Wood will be placed on the DL. A report from Bruce Miles indicated Wood might be available by Sunday but more than likely he will not return until Monday. The last time Carlos Zambrano pitched he threw 2 shutout innings in the Bronx against the AL’s best. Zambrano floated a curve over the head of Manny Ramirez and struck out Alex Rodriguez swinging. Zambrano faced the minimum in his 2 innings of work….after an error by Hanley Ramirez allowed Milton Bradley to reach, Big Z picked Bradley off first to end the inning. Zambrano was inline for the win until J.D. Drew’s 2-run homer off of Edinson Volquez.
Zambrano claims to be back at 100% after spending 15 days on the DL and would like his manager to back off his pitch count.
In his last two starts for the Cubs, Zambrano has returned to being the Cubs’ ace. Zambrano tossed 6 shutout innings against the Cardinals in his first start back from the DL, and gave up 4 hits….with only 2 leaving the infield. Zambrano struck out 5 and walked 2 on 87 pitches. Last time out, Zambrano threw a gem against the Reds and allowed only 1 hit….unfortunately it was a solo home run by Adam Dunn that accounted for the Reds’ only run of the night. Big Z struck out 5, did not walk a batter and retired the last 20 batters he faced in 8 spectacular innings of work.
After a less than effective June (1-2 in 4 starts with a 5.68 ERA and a 1.78 WHIP, opponents hit .317 against him) and a stint on the DL, Zambrano was just about unhittable before the break….2-0 with a 0.64 ERA and a 0.50 WHIP, opponents hit only .106 against him.
Zambrano beat the Astros on April 2nd, the only time he has faced Houston this season, 3-2. The Astros scored 2 runs on 7 hits in 7 innings without a walk and struck out 7 times.
Big Z is 11-6 with a complete game shutout in 23 career games, 21 starts, versus Houston with a 2.64 ERA and a 1.13 WHP….at Minute Maid, 6-2 in 12 career games, 10 starts, with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP.
- Brad Ausmus – 9-for-41
- Lance Berkman – 8-for-54 with 4 home runs and 13 walks
- Michael Bourn – 1-for-3
- Darin Erstad – 2-for-6
- Carlos Lee – 16-for-44 with 5 doubles and 4 home runs
- Mark Loretta – 3-for-12 with a double
- Kaz Matsui – 1-for-7
- Hunter Pence – 2-for-9 with a double
- Miguel Tejada – 1-for-3
The Cubs will get their first look of the season at Wandy Rodriguez tonight. The very talented southpaw has started to put it together this year after spending time on the DL early in the season. As in year’s past, Rodriguez is a different pitcher at Minute Maid than on the road. Rodriguez is 2-1 in 6 road starts with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP while opponents have hit .298 against him. At home, Rodriguez is 2-2 in 7 starts with a 2.72 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP while opponents have hit nearly 90 points lower at .210. Of the 8 home runs Rodriguez has served up, only 3 have come at the Juice Box.
Rodriguez is coming off a win against the Nationals his last time out. He gave up 4 runs on 8 hits in 5 1/3 innings but the Astros offense plated 6 runs. After a solid June (2-2 in 5 starts with a 2.30 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP), Rodriguez struggled in his three starts leading up to the break (1-0 with a 6.89 ERA and a 1.79 WHIP, opponents hit .328 against him and 2 of his 3 starts were on the road).
Rodriguez is 3-4 in 8 career starts against the Cubs with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. Last season, 1-1 in 3 starts with a 4.15 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. Rodriguez beat the Cubs 6-1 at Wrigley on August 31st, received a no decision in a 2-1 Astros win at Minute Maid on August 6th and lost to the Cubs 7-6 on July 15th at Wrigley.
- Henry Blanco – 1-for-5 with a double
- Mark DeRosa – 1-for-8 with a double
- Jim Edmonds – 1-for-7
- Reed Johnson – 0-for-3
- Derrek Lee – 7-for-16 with 2 doubles and 2 home runs
- Jason Marquis – 4-for-6 with a home run
- Aramis Ramirez – 4-for-18
- Geovany Soto – 1-for-2
- Ryan Theriot – 5-for-10 with 2 doubles and a home run
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….