Game Sixty-Two: Cubs (30-31) vs. White Sox (31-34)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Carlos Zambrano (4-2, 3.39/1.30) vs. Gavin Floyd (4-5, 4.84/1.39)
Weather permitting … Will Lou deliver on his promise of change today? The Cubs manager apparently reached the end of his rope after another horrible day for the offense on Wednesday. Lou Piniella talked about making changes and reports after the team’s fourth loss in a row to the Sox indicated the starting lineup would have a different look today.
The Cubs have scored two runs or less in 14 of the last 25 games and lead on the San Diego Padres in runs scored this season.
Milton Bradley just keeps on talking instead of producing. Bradley on Piniella: “I feel for Lou. He’s doing all he can do. All he can do is write the lineup out. You’ve got the personnel and guys in here to get the job done, and we’re just not doing it. He shouldn’t have to go through everything he’s going through.”
Carlos Zambrano was slated to start the opener on Tuesday but after the rainout was announced Big Z was relegated to playing catch outside of the Cubs dugout. Zambrano agreed to be pushed to this afternoon to keep Ryan Dempster on schedule. Dempster will start the makeup game on Monday in Atlanta then will tend to matters concerning his daughter will the Cubs play the Tigers in Detroit.
The Cubs’ offensive issues will not get any help this afternoon. While the reigning AL pitcher of the week in Jose Contreras was pushed to Friday, the Cubs will have to deal with a very good right-hander they have never faced before in Gavin Floyd.
Carlos Zambrano must set the tone early, be a leader and give the Cubs a chance to plate a couple of early runs … and hopefully build a little confidence. Forget the fact that the Cubs are playing the Sox, the Cubs need a win today … Carlos Zambrano is coming off an excellent outing in Houston … despite receiving a no-decision. Zambrano found a groove early on, threw strikes and pitched to contact. Following the Cubs 2-1 loss, Lou Piniella said he thought it was Zambrano’s best outing since he’s been in Chicago … and Piniella was right. While Big Z tossed a no-no last season, Zambrano did not throw with the same command and confidence last September as he did in his last start in Houston. Zambrano pitched like an ace eight days ago and the Cubs need a similar outing today.
Other than his “little temper tantrum” on May 27 against the Bucs, Zambrano has performed quite well since returning from the DL on May 22. Big Z has allowed only five earned runs in his last four starts (1.75 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP) and the Cubs are 2-2 in those games.
Zambrano is just 1-1 in four starts at Wrigley this season with a 4.62 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP … and his last, and only, home win of the year came on May 3 against the Marlins in the game he left in the fifth inning.
This afternoon will be Zambrano’s tenth career start against the White Sox. Big Z is 5-2 in 11 career games, nine starts, with a 4.45 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. Zambrano did not face the Sox a year ago and in 2007 he was 1-1 in two starts with a 4.91 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP … the win came at the Cell and the loss was at the hands of Nick Massett, who was dealt to the Reds in the Ken Griffey, Jr. deal last year.
- Jermaine Dye – 3-for-15 with 2 doubles and a home run
- Josh Fields – 0-for-3
- Paul Konerko – 7-for-22 with 4 home runs and 3 walks
- A.J. Pierzynski – 5-for-15 with a home run and 2 walks
- Scott Podsednik – 6-for-26 with 2 doubles and 2 walks
- Jim Thome – 4-for-12 with a double, a home run and 2 walks
- DeWayne Wise – 2-for-8 with a double
The Cubs will get their first look at Gavin Floyd this afternoon. Floyd was one of the main reasons the Sox made it to the post-season last year. Floyd posted a 17-8 record in 33 starts with a 3.84 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP.
After struggling to start the year (2-2 in five starts in April with a 5.52 ERA and a 1.77 WHIP, 1-3 in five starts in May with a 6.68 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP), Floyd has been lights out in his last three starts (1-0 with a 1.66 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP). Floyd was struggling with his command and with throwing strikes. In his first 60 1/3 innings of the year he issued 27 free passes and struck out only 51 but in his last 21 2/3 innings just four walks to go along with 20 strikeouts.
Of all the pitchers on the Sox current staff, not named Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd figures to pose the biggest challenge for the Cubs offense.
Floyd has allowed only three earned runs once since May 17 (five starts) and that was an eight-inning performance in Anaheim against the Angels. Floyd has had troubles on the road this season (2-3 in six road starts with a 7.97 ERA and a 1.66 WHIP) but it has been a while since he was blown out of a game. The Cubs must take advantage of every opportunity they get this afternoon … because there will not be that many.
Alfonso Soriano is the only Cub on the active roster that has faced Floyd … Soriano is 1-for-4.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….