Game Fifty-Two: Cubs (26-25) vs. Braves (26-26)
Game Time – 6:00pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet/MLB Network – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 175
Location – Turner Field, Atlanta
Carlos Zambrano (3-2, 4.22/1.45) vs. Jair Jurrjens (5-2, 2.59/1.23)
The Cubs will hopefully receive a boost with the return of Carlos Zambrano to the hill tonight. The Cubs number one pitcher has been out for the last six games serving a suspension for his actions on May 27. The team he is supposed to be a leader of needs him to step up tonight.
A report from Bruce Levine indicated Carlos Zambrano disrespected his teammates when he missed the flight to Atlanta on Monday. The Cubs must have an effective Carlos Zambrano to play past game 162.
With the extra innings contests over the last two days, not only is it imperative that the ‘good’ Zambrano show up but that he throws strikes, keeps his pitch count low and goes at least seven. The bullpen is taxed and needs a break before facing the Reds.
It is past time for Carlos Zambrano to grow up and put his team first. Zambrano must realize that no one is perfect on a baseball field…not even him.
Milton Bradley had a MRI on his strained calf on Wednesday. Lou Piniella sounded a little disgusted when asked about Bradley prior to Wednesday night’s game. According to the Tribune, “the MRI machine reportedly broke during the exam, forcing a second test to be taken. But it turned out the person being tested before him was suffering from claustrophobia.” The Cubs are planning to wait to place Bradley on the DL and he may be back in the lineup this weekend against the Reds. Why won’t the Cubs place Milton Bradley on the DL?
And for the record, Jon Heyman said if Raul Ibanez is the best signing of the off-season so far, Milton Bradley looks like the worst.
Geovany Soto is expected to be out of the starting lineup again tonight and it might be a good time to give Alfonso Soriano a breathier. Soriano is not hitting and is obviously hurting. Micah Hoffpauir, Reed Johnson and Kosuke Fukudome are getting the job done right now.
The Braves should get a big boost to their lineup tonight with the addition of Nate McLouth. The Pirates gave their All-Star centerfielder to the Braves on Wednesday night.
In his last start Big Z out pitched Zach Duke and was in line for a win. But Alfonso Soriano misplayed the single by Nyjer Morgan that turned into a three-base error. After Morgan was correctly called safe at the plate and tied the game, Zambrano melted down, threw a ball and destroyed the Gatorade machine. The Cubs won the game but once again Zambrano let his emotions get the best of him.
The Cubs need Zambrano to start his season tonight. He has been inconsistent at best, like his teammates. If the Cubs are going to stay in the race this summer they will need Carlos Zambrano to pitch to his talent and ability.
Zambrano is 2-2 in 10 career starts against the Braves with a 4.62 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP…at Turner Field, 1-0 in three starts with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP.
- Gregor Blanco – 1-for-3
- Yunel Escobar – 0-for-3 with a walk
- Jeff Francoeur – 4-for-14 with a double, 2 home runs and a walk
- Kelly Johnson – 4-for-14 with 2 doubles and a walk
- Chipper Jones – 6-for-23 with a double, a home run and 4 walks
- Brian McCann – 5-for-9
- Greg Norton – 3-for-9 with a double
The Cubs will get their first look at Jair Jurrjens tonight. The Braves great young right- hander was scheduled to start the game last season against the Cubs that Jeff Bennett hit Alfonso Soriano in the hand.
Jurrjens is one of the better young right-handers in the league and his numbers speak volumes. He is coming off a win in Arizona in which he allowed a season-high five runs on eight hits in five innings…with a walk and five strikeouts. Jurrjens has not lost a game since April 27 against the Cardinals and the Braves are 7-4 in his 11 starts.
Jurrjens is 2-1 in five starts at home this season with a 3.08 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP.
As mentioned, the Cubs have not faced Jurrjens in his young career.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….