Game Eighty-Eight: Cubs (44-43) vs. Nationals (26-62)
Game Time – 6:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 184
Location – Nationals Park, Washington D.C.
Carlos Zambrano (5-4, 3.53/1.30) vs. Craig Stammen (2-4, 4.45/1.22)
The Cubs will try to win two in a row on the road tonight for the first time since June 7 in Cincinnati and June 9 in Houston. The Cubs put together a solid win on Thursday night and must begin building on wins and put the .500 mark in their rearview mirror. The offense will need a solid outing from Carlos Zambrano. The Cubs’ number one pitcher must silent the Nationals’ offense long enough for his own team to try to figure our Craig Stammen.
Scott Olsen was scheduled to start this game but was scratched on Thursday due to a rib cage injury. The Cubs will face a very impressive young right-hander in Craig Stammen instead … and the Cubs have struggled in the past when they face pitchers for the first time.
While the offense must do their job tonight, it all begins with Carlos Zambrano … and one win at a time. For all of the flack that Carlos Zambrano receives he actually put together a very good first half of the season … despite the win-loss record. There have been a couple of Zambrano-meltdowns this year but all in all he has pitched rather well and has kept his team in just about every one of his starts. Big Z must keep it up in the second half.
- 1-1 in five June starts with a 2.91 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP with an opponents batting average of .212
- 1-1 in three July starts with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP with an opponents batting average of .214
Zambrano is coming off his first win since June 5 in Cincinnati. Zambrano held the Cardinals to three runs on five hits in six innings and even hit his third home run of the season. As the saying goes, when Zambrano hits, Zambrano wins.
Carlos Zambrano has pitched slightly better on the road (3-2 in eight starts with a 3.20 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP, while holding opponents to a .232 batting average) than at home (3-2 in eight starts with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP with a .249 opponents batting average). But he has excelled at night to the tune of a 3-2 mark in eight starts with a 2.81 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP, opponents have hit .211 against him.
Tonight will be Zambrano’s tenth career start against the Nationals/Expos organization. He is 6-2 in nine starts, 11 games, with a 3.02 ERA and 1.16 WHIP.
- Ronnie Belliard – 2-for-19 with a double and a triple
- Adam Dunn – 13-for-56 with a double, 7 home runs and 15 walks
- Cristian Guzman – 2-for-6 with a double
- Willie Harris – 4-for-19 with a walk
- Nick Johnson – 1-for-6 with a walk
- Austin Kearns – 5-for-30 with 2 doubles, a home run and 5 walks
- Nyjer Morgan – 3-for-12 with a walk
- Wil Nieves – 2-for-2
- Scott Olsen – 1-for-2
- Josh Willingham – 5-for-7 with a double and a triple
- Ryan Zimmerman – 2-for-11 with 2 walks
The Cubs will face Craig Stammen for the first time tonight. Stammen was inconsistent in his first eight big league starts but has been more than impressive in his last two games.
Stammen is coming off a complete game win against the Astros. He allowed only two runs on nine hits in nine innings with a walk and two strikeouts. After posting a 1-2 record in six starts last month with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP, Stammen is 1-1 in his last two games with a 1.69 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. Stammen has shown signs of being an excellent big league pitcher and he appears to be putting it together …
Craig Stammen is 0-2 in four starts at Nationals Park with a 7.54 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP … tonight is his first home start since June 24 against the Red Sox.
The Cubs must make him work tonight and Sam Fuld hitting at the top of the lineup might be the right move. Stammen is pitching with a lot of confidence right now and if they swing early and often it could be another frustrating night for the Cubs offense.
Tonight will be Craig Stammen’s first career start and appearance against the Chicago Cubs.
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