Game Seventy-Seven: Cubs (38-38) vs. Brewers (42-37)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Carlos Zambrano (4-3, 3.69/1.33) vs. Jeff Suppan (5-6, 4.86/1.66)
Will Soriano or Fuld hit leadoff for the Chicago Cubs this afternoon? Lou Piniella said Alfonso Soriano would be back in the leadoff spot before Thursday night’s game but sounded less sure following another solid performance from Sam Fuld. The Cubs must have a healthy Alfonso Soriano in order to win on a regular basis in the second half. With Soriano not producing it might be better for him to hit lower in the order for a while and ride out the spark that Fuld has given the team.
This afternoon might be a good time to slide Fuld over to center and put Kosuke Fukudome in right. Milton Bradley is not hitting from the left side and is just 1-for-10 lifetime against Jeff Suppan. Right now it is all about winning ballgames … entering play today there are five teams in the central within three games of first place.
Phil Rogers sparked a lot of controversy following Carlos Zambrano’s last start against the White Sox. When Big Z heard about the online poll, his response was “fine, trade me to Boston“. For the Cubs to turn their season around the good Carlos Zambrano must continue to take the mound … and not the bad Carlos that was on full display on the South Side last Sunday.
The Cubs offense must keep it up this afternoon against Jeff Suppan … but it all starts with Carlos Zambrano and one win at a time. Carlos Zambrano is coming off a horrible outing against the White Sox. Ozzie Guillen and company punched all of his buttons and knocked Zambrano out in the sixth inning. Zambrano allowed five runs, four earned, on nine hits in 5 1/3 innings with two walks and three strikeouts … by far one of his worst games of the year.
Until his last start, Carlos Zambrano appeared to be on the verge of taking the next step in his development. He was pitching to contact, going deep in games and putting his team in position to win every time he took the mound. Zambrano has the talent and the desire; he must put his last start behind him and give his team another long, quality start today.
Big Z, like Rich Harden, has struggled in home (1-1 in five games with a 4.45 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP, opponents hitting .268) this season and in day games (1-2 in six starts with a 4.78 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP, opponents hitting .288). This afternoon will be a tough test for the Cubs number one pitcher.
Today will be Zambrano’s second start of the year against the Brewers. He received a no decision in a 6-5 Cubs win back on April 11. Zambrano gave up three runs on seven hits in six innings with three walks and seven strikeouts.
Zambrano is 10-8 in 24 career games, 23 starts, against Milwaukee with a 3.68 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP.
- Ryan Braun – 5-for-19 with a double, a home run and a walk
- Mike Cameron – 1-for-13 with a walk
- Craig Counsell – 6-for-26 with 2 doubles and 6 walks
- Prince Fielder – 11-for-30 with 5 doubles, 2 home runs and 8 walks
- Jody Gerut – 2-for-4 with a home run and 3 walks
- Bill Hall – 8-for-41 with 2 doubles, 2 triples and 6 walks
- J.J. Hardy – 2-for-19 with a home run and 2 walks
- Corey Hart – 6-for-19 with a triple and 2 walks
- Jason Kendall – 10-for-33 with 2 walks
- Jeff Suppan – 0-for-5
The Cubs must use the same approach at the plate today as they did the first two times they faced Jeff Suppan this season … make him throw strikes and do not swing at his pitch. After years of struggling against Jeff Suppan, the Cubs have beaten him twice this year. Suppan is 0-2 with a 7.45 ERA and a 1.86 WHIP in 9 2/3 innings … eight walks and four strikeouts with 10 hits.
Jeff Suppan is 2-2 in his last six starts with a respectable 4.28 ERA but a very high WHIP of 1.78. Teams are getting their hits (.331 batting average against in his last six games) but have scored on 16 earned runs (19 runs on 47 hits). The Brewers won five of his seven starts between May 16 – June 17 but have lost the last two games Suppan took the ball.
Suppan is coming off a 7-0 loss to the Giants. He surrendered five runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings (Ryan Sadowski picked up the win in his first big league start). Suppan has pitched rather well on the road this year, 4-1 in nine starts with a 3.96 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP. If the Cubs can make him work and get into their pen early again, it could pay dividends in the last two games of the series.
Suppan is 6-8 in 21 career starts against the Cubs with a 3.90 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP.
- Andres Blanco – 1-for-3 with a double
- Milton Bradley – 1-for-10
- Mike Fontenot – 3-for-8 with a walk
- Kosuke Fukudome – 3-for-8 with a double, a triple and 4 walks
- Koyie Hill – 0-for-3 with 2 walks
- Micah Hoffpauir – 2-for-6
- Derrek Lee – 21-for-47 with 7 doubles, 4 home runs and 9 walks
- Alfonso Soriano – 9-for-43 with 2 doubles, 2 home runs and 3 walks
- Geovany Soto – 2-for-8 with 2 home runs and 2 doubles
- Ryan Theriot – 8-for-19 with a double
- Carlos Zambrano – 3-for-7 with a triple
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….