Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Cardinals – 04/17/09

Game Ten: Cubs (5-4) vs. Cardinals (8-3)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Carlos Zambrano (1-0, 3.00/1.50) vs. P.J. Walters (0-0, -.–/-.–)

After winning three in a row, the Cubs have dropped their last two and will turn to Carlos Zambrano today to put an end to their first multi-game losing streak of the year. Lou Piniella has used his pen a lot in the first nine games of the season, a quality start of seven innings or more by Zambrano today would go along way toward a win.

The Cubs are expected to be without Milton Bradley once again today. Bradley could return for the third game of the series on Saturday.

The Cardinals took game one of 16 on Thursday and own a two-game edge in the division after nine games. Thursday was the first of 10 straight against the Central Division and it will not get any easier after the weekend series…starting with the Reds series on Tuesday, the Cubs play 20 straight without a day off.

Lou Piniella voiced his displeasure over the bullpen following Thursday’s loss…changes are coming, it is a matter of time.

Kyle Lohse was originally slated to make this start but with the injury, and subsequent trip to the DL, for Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals pushed Lohse back a day and called up P.J. Walters to make the start today.

The Cubs have not fared well in the recent past against pitchers they have not faced before…especially rookies. Zambrano will have to keep his team in the game while the offense tries to figure out the righty. Carlos Zambrano took a step back in is last start after picking up the win on Opening Day in Houston. Zambrano struggled through six innings in the Cubs 6-5 win last Saturday in Milwaukee. Big Z allowed three runs on seven hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.

Zambrano’s velocity was down and his command was not as sharp against the Brewers as it was against the Astros. Zambrano needs a good outing in his first trip of the season to the Wrigley Field mound.

Zambrano was 7-2 in 16 home starts last season with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP…and both losses came at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Albert Pujols and company beat Zambrano badly in the two games in Chicago last season. The Cardinals plated nine runs on 10 hits, with four home runs, in 4 1/3 innings on August 9…and the start following his no-hitter on September 19, the Cardinals scored eight runs on six hits in 1 2/3 innings. Many view that start as the reason Zambrano was not on the hill for Game One of the NLDS.

Zambrano dominated the Redbirds on the 4th of July in St. Louis and finished 2008 against the Cardinals with a 1-2 record in three games with a 12.75 ERA and a 2.17 WHIP. The Cardinals hit .364 with 20 hits and five home runs in 12 innings.

Big Z is 9-6 in 22 games, 21 starts, against St. Louis in his career with a 3.25 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP.

  • Rick Ankiel – 0-for-6 with a walk
  • Chris Duncan – 3-for-14 with 2 walks
  • Khalil Greene – 1-for-18
  • Ryan Ludwick – 3-for-4 with a walk
  • Yadier Molina – 6-for-26 with a home run and a walk
  • Albert Pujols – 14-for-54 with 2 doubles, 5 home runs and 7 walks
  • Skip Schumaker – 7-for-19 with 2 doubles, a triple, a home run and a walk
  • Joe Thurston – 1-for-5 with a double

P.J. (Philip Dewayne) Walters was called up from Louisville on Wednesday and will make his big league debut this afternoon. Walters was ranked as the Cardinals’ 17th best prospect by Baseball America before Spring Training began.

Walters was among the leaders in the Cardinals organization in strikeouts and in strikeouts per nine innings last year for the second season in a row. He throws his fastball consistently in the mid to upper 80s, will touch the low 90s…but his best pitch is a screwball that he calls his changeup.

Walters will keep the ball down and as a deceptive delivery according to Baseball America.

The Cubs must be patient and make the rookie work. If they go to the plate swinging it they will leave Wrigley this afternoon with a .500 record.

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….