Game Eighty-Five: Cubs (42-42) vs. Cardinals (48-41)
Game Time – 12:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 189
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Carlos Zambrano (4-4, 3.47/1.31) vs. Kyle Lohse (4-4, 3.99/1.22)
Somewhere Ernie Banks is smiling … Let’s Play Two as Mr. Cub always says. The Cubs and Cardinals will complete the first half of the season today with a day-night doubleheader. Carlos Zambrano will take the hill in the first game against Kyle Lohse while Randy Wells will face Adam Wainwright in the nightcap. The Cubs enter play today 3 1/2 games back of the Redbirds and a sweep of Albert Pujols and company would go a long way towards their goal of finishing the first half on a positive note.
With the importance of the first game of a doubleheader, look for both Lou Piniella and Tony LaRussa to pull out all of the stops this afternoon.
Derrek Lee is expected to be back in the lineup today … Lee left in the sixth inning of Saturday’s game with neck spasms. There is also talk that Jake Fox could start behind the plate in the night game … Koyie Hill told WGN Radio before Friday’s game that he is prepared to catch both games.
Sam Fuld and Reed Johnson should receive playing time today. Look for both in the nightcap with the career numbers of Milton Bradley and Alfonso Soriano against Adam Wainwright.
The All-Star festivities begin this afternoon in St. Louis. Two of the Cubs’ top prospects, Josh Vitters and Starlin Castro, will participate in XM Radio’s All-Star Futures Game. Vitters is on the U.S. Team while Castro will play on the World Team. Geovany Soto played in the annual event in 2007 and Welington Castillo was the Cubs representative last year. ESPN2 will carry the game.
While the offense and defense must do their job, it all starts with Carlos Zambrano … and one win at a time. Carlos Zambrano is coming off back-to-back impressive starts. After getting shelled on the South Side back on June 28, Zambrano allowed only one run on five hits in seven innings to the Brewers but received a no-decision. Zambrano put together a solid start against Milwaukee and put his team in position to win the game … the Cubs won the game in the 10th on a bases loaded walk by Jake Fox.
In his last start, Zambrano was a hard-luck loser to the Braves. Big Z gave up only two runs on five hits in six innings … pitching on short rest for Ryan Dempster. The Cubs offense could not figure out Javier Vazquez and lost 2-1. Zambrano did his job and kept his team in the game once again.
Carlos Zambrano has not posted a victory since June 5 in Cincinnati. It is time for his team to score him a bunch of runs and reward him with a win. In his last six starts (dating back to June 5), Zambrano has allowed more than three earned runs only once (June 28 against the Sox) and has held his opponents to one earned run two times … and has two losses to show for some pretty good pitching.
For as good as Zambrano has been for a majority of the year, he has struggled at Wrigley … but mostly due to no run support. Zambrano is 1-2 in seven starts at the Friendly Confines with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP.
Today will be Zambrano’s second start of the year against the Cardinals. In his third start of the season back on April 17 in St. Louis, Zambrano allowed seven runs on nine hits in seven innings with seven strikeouts and three walks … Ryan Ludwick hit a pair of homers off of Zambrano and Brian Barden added a third for good measure. The Cubs won the game 8-7.
The Cardinals have figured out Zambrano over the past two seasons. Not only did they knock him around this year, the Redbirds posted a two wins in three starts against Zambrano last season. Big Z was 1-2 with a 12.75 ERA and a 2.17 WHIP with a .364 batting average against St. Louis in 2008 … in his last three starts against the Cardinals, 0-2 with a 16.62 ERA, in his 11 previous outings, 8-0 with a 1.37 ERA.
- Rick Ankiel – 0-for-6 with a walk
- Chris Duncan – 4-for-17 with 2 walks
- Kyle Lohse – 0-for-1
- Ryan Ludwick – 6-for-8 with 2 home runs and a walk
- Yadier Molina – 7-for-29 with a home run and a walk
- Albert Pujols – 14-for-56 with 2 doubles, 5 homes and 8 walks
- Colby Rasmus – 1-for-4
- Brendan Ryan – 0-for-3
- Skip Schumaker – 8-for-22 with 2 doubles, a triple, a home run and 3 walks
Kyle Lohse will make his first start today since June 3. Lohse was placed on the DL on June 4 with a right forearm strain and threw one rehab assignment last week. Lohse left after two innings against the Reds in St. Louis, he picked up the loss after allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits in two innings.
Before his outing against the Reds, Lohse threw eight innings of shutout ball against the Royals on May 23. Lohse allowed only four hits, did not walk a batter and struck out six.
Today will be Lohse’s second start of the year against the team that drafted him in the 29th round back in 1996. The Cubs won the game, Lohse received a no-decision after allowing four runs on five hits in five innings.
Lohse is 1-2 in eight career starts against the Cubs with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP. The Cubs must make him work early on and not let him get comfortable on the mound. Lohse figures to be on a strict pitch count and getting into the Cardinals’ pen in the early innings could pay dividends in the second game.
- Jeff Baker – 0-for-2
- Andres Blanco – 2-for-6
- Milton Bradley – 3-for-12 with a double and 2 walks
- Mike Fontenot – 1-for-6 with a home run and 4 walks
- Kosuke Fukudome – 3-for-9 with 2 doubles and a walk
- Micah Hoffpauir – 1-for-2
- Reed Johnson – 3-for-9 with a walk
- Derrek Lee – 7-for-18 with 3 doubles and a walk
- Aramis Ramirez – 7-for-13 with 3 doubles and a home run
- Alfonso Soriano – 14-for-37 with 3 doubles, 2 home runs and a walk
- Ryan Theriot – 10-for-19 with 2 triples
- Carlos Zambrano – 1-for-2 with a home run
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….