Game Twenty-Four: Cubs (12-11) vs. Marlins (14-10)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T.
Ferguson Jenkins-Greg Maddux Retirement Ceremony – 12:30pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 188
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Carlos Zambrano (2-1, 4.64/1.48) vs. Ricky Nolasco (1-2, 6.92/1.69)
Before the Cubs try to post their third win in a row, they will honor two of the greatest pitchers in the franchise’s history. Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux will become the fifth and sixth player to have their number retired by the Chicago National League Ball Club, Inc. …Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Ryne Sandberg. Number 31 will be the sixth number retired by the Chicago Cubs.
Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux are two of the best pitchers in the history of the game…and it could be said without much argument that Greg Maddux is the best pitcher of his generation. Maddux will have his number retired later this summer on July 17 by the Atlanta Braves.
The retirement of number 31 is the first for the Cubs since Ryne Sandberg had his number 23 retired on August 28, 2005. The Cubs beat the Marlins that Sunday afternoon four years ago, 14-5. Carlos Zambrano defeated Josh Beckett and Derrek Lee hit two home runs in the win.
Lou Piniella preached the importance of winning series last year. The Cubs have lost three series in a row and a win today would give them their first at home this season…and a 3-0 mark to start the month of May. After spending the last three days serving as Lou Piniella’s first option off his bench, Carlos Zambrano will go back to his day job as the number one pitcher on the Cubs’ staff. Lou Piniella needs another outing from Big Z similar to the one he turned in last Tuesday in Arizona. Zambrano was not only the hitting star in the Cubs’ only win in the desert but also pitched his second best game of the season.
Zambrano allowed only one run in his first six innings and finished the night after three runs allowed on eight hits in seven innings of work. Zambrano pitched to contact and limited his walks to just two to go along with three strikeouts.
While Z’s strikeout to walk ratio was down in his last start (30 strikeouts to 13 walks in 33 innings this season), the Cubs’ defense was solid behind him and he was extremely sharp for the first six innings. Pitching to contact and keeping his pitch count low (544 in first five starts, 108.8 per start and 16.48 per inning) might go a long way toward Zambrano winning his third game of the year today.
Big Z has not pitched well at Wrigley this year. In two starts he is 0-1 with a 6.43 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP, with three of his four home runs allowed.
For his career, Zambrano is 4-1 in nine starts against Florida with a 3.05 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP…last season, 1-0 in two starts with a 4.85 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.
- Alfredo Amezaga – 0-for-3
- John Baker – 0-for-6
- Jorge Cantu – 3-for-5 with a home run
- Ross Gload – 1-for-3 with a double
- Wes Helms – 4-for-10
- Jeremy Hermida – 0-for-5
- Ronny Paulino – 1-for-19 with 4 walks
- Hanley Ramirez – 2-for-10 with a home run and 2 walks
- Cody Ross – 1-for-6 with a double
- Dan Uggla – 0-for-4 with 3 walks
The Cubs will face an underachieving Ricky Nolasco this afternoon. The Marlins acquired Nolasco, along with Renyel Pinto and Sergio Mitre from the Cubs for Juan Pierre on December 7, 2005…arguably the worst trade for the Cubs under Jim Hendry. When will the league stop trading their top talent to the Marlins for players on the downside of their career? The Cubs are not the only organization the superior Marlins’ front office has taken advantage of.
Ricky Nolasco had a tremendous season a year ago (15-8 with a 3.52 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP in 32 starts) but has struggled out of the gate in his first five starts.
The number one pitcher in the Marlins’ rotation has not pitched beyond the sixth inning and completed just five in his last start against the Mets. Nolasco allowed four runs on six hits in five innings with three walks and five strikeouts. Nolasco throws a lot of strikes and typically does not walk many batters, but his strikeout to walk ratio is not as good as it appears.
In 26 innings this season Nolasco has walked nine and struck out 22, but in his last three starts just 14 strikeouts and seven walks in 15 innings. The Cubs must make Nolasco work today…and he will have a chip on his shoulder with something to prove.
Today will be Nolasco’s first career start at Wrigley and his second appearance at the Friendly Confines. The Cubs did not face Nolasco last season or in 2007…but three years ago he dominated the Cubs the two times he faced them. Nolasco is 2-0 in two games, one start, against the team that selected him in the fourth round of the 2001 draft with a 1.00 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP.
- Aaron Miles – 1-for-7
- Aramis Ramirez – 2-for-4 with a home run
- Alfonso Soriano – 3-for-7 with 2 home runs
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….