Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Nationals – 08/25/09

Game One Hundred Twenty-Three: Cubs (62-60) vs. Nationals (44-80)
Game Time – 7:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 186
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Carlos Zambrano (7-4, 3.35/1.35) vs. Garrett Mock (2-5, 5.10/1.83)

Updated – 5:09pm C.T. – Carlos Zambrano Activated from 15-day DL – Esmailin Caridad Optioned to Triple-A Iowa

Updated – 5:32pm C.T.Alfonso Soriano scratched from starting lineup with continued problems with his knee. Jake Fox will start in left and bat sixth.

The Cubs open an important ten-game homestand tonight with the first of three against the Washington Nationals. While the Cubs swept the Washington in the four-game series coming out of the break, the Nationals are playing better ball than the Cubs right now.

The Nationals are 17-42 on the road this season and the Cubs are 35-22 at Wrigley … but Lou Piniella’s crew is 4-6 in their last 10, the same record as the last place Nationals. The Cubs are 8-13 in August while the Nationals are 12-9. Garrett Mock has been hot of late and John Lannan will pitch the finale on Thursday. Anyone that thinks the next three games will be a cakewalk is fooling themselves and if the Cubs do not come in prepared to play, the Nationals will embarrass the Cubs for the next three games … and try to effectively end their season.

The Cubs should get a boost with the return of Carlos Zambrano but don’t look for Sam Fuld or Jake Fox in the starting lineup. Ryan Theriot told Dave Kaplan during Sports Central on Monday night that he fully expects Lou Piniella to “throw Sammy and Jake out there a lot more” but Piniella told the media he would continue to play his veterans. Look for Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley back in the starting lineup tonight …

Carlos Zambrano has been on the DL since August 8 with back spasms and must be careful with a solid Nationals lineup … and especially Adam Dunn. The former Red loves hitting against Zambrano and at Wrigley. Dunn owns a .286/.419/.664/1.083 career line at Wrigley with 11 doubles and 23 home runs.

Tonight it all starts with Carlos Zambrano … and one win at a time. Carlos Zambrano will make his first start tonight since leaving the game after three innings in Florida on August 1. Zambrano struggled with his command after his team gave him a big lead, tweaked his back during an at bat and left after three innings.

While Zambrano has not struggled in August this season, his injuries have marred the fifth month of the baseball season once again.

Despite all of the media criticism Carlos Zambrano has put together a solid season … no matter how many wins he has personally posted. Zambrano has done his job for the most part, kept his team in the game and has given them a chance to win just about every time he has taken the mound. Big Z might be 7-4 but his team is 14-6 in his starts … and have posted a win in his last five games and six of the last seven.

Carlos Zambrano might not be an ace but this season he has pitched more consistently than in years past.

Zambrano was 3-1 in six starts in July with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP.

Tonight will be Zambrano’s tenth start of the year at Wrigley. He is 2-2 with a 3.55 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP … but has not posted a win at Wrigley since July 12, the first of the day-night doubleheader against the Cardinals.

Zambrano beat the Nationals in his first start of the second half on July 17. Zambrano struggled with his command, threw a ton of pitches and barely qualified for the win … and even drove in a pair of runs with a two-run double in the second inning.

Carlos Zambrano is 7-2 in 10 career starts versus the Nationals/Expos organization with a 2.78 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP.

  • Josh Bard – 0-for-8
  • Ronnie Belliard – 2-for-19 with a double and 3 walks
  • Adam Dunn – 13-for-58 with a double, 7 home runs and 16 walks
  • Cristian Guzman – 2-for-6 with a double
  • Willie Harris – 4-for-20 with 2 walks
  • Austin Kearns – 5-for-30 with 2 doubles, a home run and 5 walks
  • Nyjer Morgan – 6-for-15 with a walk
  • Josh Willingham – 5-for-10 with a double and a triple
  • Ryan Zimmerman – 2-for-14 with 2 doubles

The Cubs will face Garrett Mock for the second time this season tonight. Mock was recalled from Triple-A on July 19 and made his first start of the year against the Cubs. Lou Piniella’s offense did the job that day and knocked him out of the game in the fourth inning. Mock allowed seven runs, four earned, on eight hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings that afternoon … but he has been a lot better of late.

The Cubs must be patient against Mock once again. While he has shown improvement he is still walking more than his fare share of batters. Mock won two games in a row before losing to the Rockies in his last outing. Mock allowed only two runs on three hits in five innings with two walks and a season-high eight strikeouts.

The Cubs’ offense will face a very hot pitcher this evening. Garrett Mock is 2-1 in his last four starts with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP.

  • Mike Fontenot – 2-for-2 with a double
  • Jake Fox – 0-for-2
  • Kosuke Fukudome – 2-for-2 with a double and a walk
  • Koyie Hill – 0-for-1 with a walk
  • Derrek Lee – 0-for-3
  • Aramis Ramirez – 0-for-1
  • Alfonso Soriano – 2-for-2 with a double and a home run
  • Geovany Soto – 0-for-1
  • Ryan Theriot – 0-for-3

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….