Game Eighty-One: Cubs (41-39) vs. Braves (39-43)
Game Time – 7:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Carlos Zambrano (4-3, 3.50/1.31) vs. Javier Vazquez (5-7, 3.05/1.07)
The 2009 Cubs’ season hits the halfway point tonight with game number 81 of 162. The Cubs have underachieved throughout the first half of the season but have played much better of late … especially at home. The Cubs must continue to build on their last week and put the .500 mark permanently in their rearview mirror.
Tonight’s pitching match-up was scheduled to be a rematch from the make up game in Atlanta on June 22. Ryan Dempster did his job and allowed only two runs but the Cubs’ struggling offense was shutout by Javier Vazquez … but the Cubs’ placed Ryan Dempster on the DL Tuesday afternoon with a broken big tow. Dempster is expected to miss at least two starts … and could be out longer. Dempster reportedly broke his toe jumping over the rail of the dugout in celebration of Sunday’s win against the Brewers.
While the offense must do their job against Vazquez, it all starts with Carlos Zambrano … and one win at a time. After a horrible start against the White Sox, Carlos Zambrano bounced back nicely against the Brewers in his last start … on a day he said he did not have his fastball. Zambrano said he pitched the way he thought Greg Maddux would and posted a decent outing. Big Z allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings with three walks and three strikeouts.
Zambrano will be pitching on short rest tonight in his first start of the year against the Braves.
Carlos Zambrano is 2-2 in 10 career starts against Atlanta with a 4.62 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP. He tossed a gem against them a year ago on June 12 in a game that Jim Edmonds tied in the bottom of the ninth … and Reed Johnson drove in the winning run when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
- 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
- Chipper Jones – 6-for-23 with a double, a home run and 4 walks
- Nate McLouth – 5-for-22 with a double, a triple and 6 walks
- Javier Vazquez – 0-for-6
Javier Vazquez has been very, very good of late. Vazquez has not allowed more than two earned runs in his last three starts … since May 30 (seven starts) he has allowed more than two earned runs in only one outing. During that span Vazquez made the Cubs look very bad in Atlanta. Lou Piniella’s crew recorded nine hits in 6 2/3 innings … but not a single run.
Vazquez is 3-2 in seven road starts this season with a 3.15 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. Tonight will be Vazquez’s 12th career start at Wrigley. He is 2-3 in the first 11 with a 4.91 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP.
The Cubs will have opportunities and must take advantage of every scoring chance … and not repeat their performance from a couple of weeks back in Atlanta.
- Andres Blanco – 1-for-3
- Milton Bradley – 3-for-18
- Mike Fontenot – 3-for-7 with a double and a walk
- Jake Fox – 2-for-4
- Kosuke Fukudome – 0-for-6 with 4 walks
- Micah Hoffpauir – 1-for-3
- Reed Johnson – 3-for-19
- Derrek Lee – 21-for-53 with 7 doubles, 3 home runs and 2 walks
- Aramis Ramirez – 8-for-29 with 2 doubles, a triple, 2 home runs and 2 walks
- Alfonso Soriano – 2-for-9 with a home run
- Geovany Soto – 1-for-8 with a walk
- Ryan Theriot – 5-for-13
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….