Game Fourteen: Cubs (8-5) vs. Reds (8-6)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Carlos Zambrano (1-0, 5.21/1.58) vs. Aaron Harang (1-2, 2.70/1.20)
Updated – Thursday morning – Cubs DFA’d Luis Vizcaino to make room on the active roster for the recall of Jeff Samardzija from Triple-A Iowa
The Cubs bullpen will have a familiar addition by game time this afternoon. The Cubs have recalled Jeff Samardzija from Iowa and will announce the corresponding roster move before game time. Multiple reports on Wednesday afternoon indicated the Cubs will release Luis Vizcaino and will ‘eat‘ up to $4 million worth of salary. Along with Chad Gaudin’s $1.6 million, the Cubs could end up with as much as $5.6 million of dead money if Vizcaino is released and no one picks him up.
Neal Cotts is expected to remain in the Cubs’ pen and Sean Marshall will remain in Lou Piniella’s rotation.
After being shutout for the first time on the young season Wednesday, it will not get any easier for the Cubs offense today. Prior to last year Aaron Harang was one of the best pitchers in the National League that no one talked about. Harang struggled last season and dealt with a lot of injuries. Well…Aaron Harang is back, despite the 1-2 record.
The Cubs need their staff ace to step up today and end the eight-game homestand with a win. Lou Piniella’s crew just began a difficult 20-game stretch and it is a must to receive quality starts and consistency from Carlos Zambrano over the next two and a half weeks.
Today’s pitching match-up is a very familiar one for both dugouts. Harang beat Zambrano in back-to-back opening days in 2006 and 2007 and Zambrano finally beat Harang last season. If both pitchers are at the top of their game, runs should come at a premium. Carlos Zambrano is coming off a horrible start against the Cardinals. Zambrano struggled with his command, his velocity was down and he gave up seven runs, all earned, on nine hits in seven innings. The Redbirds went deep three times off Big Z (Ryan Ludwick twice) and he walked three and struck out seven. The Cubs won the game and that is the most important stat, but Lou Piniella needs more consistency from his number one starter.
The Cubs are 3-0 in Zambrano’s starts this year but today is an important start for him and the Cubs. The starting staff has not been exactly lights out and Zambrano is being paid to pitch like an ace and stabilize the Cubs rotation…it is time he starts earning his check in more than one way.
After struggling against the Reds for the majority of two seasons he was 4-0 against Dusty Baker’s team in four starts last year with a 1.20 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP.
For his career, Zambrano is 14-9 in 31 games, 27 starts, with a 3.03 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP.
- Jay Bruce – 1-for-6 with a home run
- Chris Dickerson – 1-for-2 with 2 walks
- Edwin Encarnacion – 10-for-40 with 2 home runs and 3 walks
- Alex Gonzalez – 5-for-13 with 2 doubles
- Aaron Harang – 1-for-9
- Ramon Hernandez – 1-for-6
- Brandon Phillips – 8-for-35 with 3 doubles, a home run and 4 walks
- Willy Taveras – 4-for-22
- Joey Votto – 6-for-17 with 2 doubles and a walk
Aaron Harang is back, despite his 1-2 record. The Reds former ace showed up to Spring Training 25 pounds lighter and is throwing the ball the way he did before his extra innings outing in San Diego last May. Harang has held very good offenses in check and threw a complete game shutout against the Pirates on April 12.
Harang stumbled a little against the Astros last Saturday, which raised concerns after his complete game shutout. Harang gave up only five runs on 10 hits in 6 innings with one walk and six strikeouts. In 20 innings this season, Harang has walked only four batters (17 strikeouts).
The offense must make him get the ball up in the zone today.
Harang was 0-3 in four starts against the Cubs last season with a 6.29 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP…for his career, 8-6 in 19 starts with a 4.81 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP.
- Milton Bradley – 1-for-5 with a double and a walk
- Mike Fontenot – 3-for-9 with a double, a home run and 3 walks
- Kosuke Fukudome – 2-for-6 with 2 walks
- Joey Gathright – 1-for-2 with a walk
- Micah Hoffpauir – 1-for-3 with a walk
- Derrek Lee – 14-for-46 with 2 doubles, 5 home runs and 6 walks
- Aaron Miles – 6-for-19 with a walk
- Aramis Ramirez – 11-for-40 with a triple, 3 home runs and 2 walks
- Alfonso Soriano – 4-for-22 with a double and a walk
- Geovany Soto – 5-for-13 with 2 doubles, a home run and a walk
- Ryan Theriot – 9-for-27 with a double and 2 walks
- Carlos Zambrano – 3-for-13 with a double and a home run
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….