Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Astros – 10/02/10

Game One Hundred Sixty-One: Cubs (74-86) vs. Astros (75-85)
Game Time – 6:05pm CDT
Coverage – WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Minute Maid Park, Houston

Carlos Zambrano (10-6, 3.36/1.48) vs. J.A. Happ (6-3, 2.77/1.27)

Two games remain in Year One for the Chicago Cubs … Can the Cubs win a series against the Astros this season? The Cubs have played and lost all five series versus Houston this year and a win tonight would guarantee the first series win of the season … on the next to the last game of the year.

The Cubs are 23-12 under Mike Quade (16-4 on the road) due in large part to the pitching staff. While the offense has had it moments, the pitching as been outstanding … especially of late.

Quade’s pitching staff has not allowed a run in 21 innings and have shutout the opponent three times in the last five games. The Cubs have not allowed more than three runs in 14 straight road games … the longest streak for the franchise in 90 years (1920).

Carlos Marmol has been on a roll of late as well. Marmol took over sixth place on the Cubs’ all-time saves list with his 38th save of the season Friday night … Marmol passed Phil Regan with the 61st save of his career. Marmol also recorded two more strikeouts to run his season total to 138. Marmol passed Eric Gagne for 10th on the all-time single-season strikeout list for a reliever. Next on the list is Rob Dibble mark of 141 set back in 1989.

Following Friday’s game, Mike Quade said both Carlos Marmol and Andrew Cashner will be unavailable for tonight’s game. Quade cited the heavy workload over the last week as the reason

Tonight it all begins with Carlos Zambrano

Carlos Zambrano has been outstanding since he returned to the rotation back on August 9. Zambrano has won all seven decisions (7-0 with three no decisions) and is coming off a 1-0 win against the Padres last Monday night. Zambrano has not lost a game since that day on the south side back on June 25.

Big Z is 4-0 in his last five starts with a miniscule 0.78 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP (four runs, three earned, on 17 hits with 17 walks and 33 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings). Since the break, 7-0 in 13 games, 10 starts, with a 1.46 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP.

It has been fun watching Zambrano pitch and hopefully he can finish the season on a positive note.

Z lost to the Astros back on June 4. Houston scored three runs on six hits (three walks and three strikeouts) in just 4 1/3 innings. Zambrano is 13-8 in 30 career games, 28 starts, with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP … at Minute Maid, 7-4 in 16 games, 14 starts, with a 3.35 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP.

Astros Career Numbers against Carlos Zambrano

  • Geoff Blum – 5-for-36 with a double and 4 walks
  • Michael Bourn – 6-for-16 with a double and 5 walks
  • Anderson Hernandez – 1-for-4 with a triple
  • Jeff Keppinger – 6-for-29 with a double and a walk
  • Carlos Lee – 22-for-56 with 6 doubles, 5 home runs and 6 walks
  • Hunter Pence – 5-for-22 with 2 doubles and 2 walks
  • Humberto Quintero – 1-for-11 with a double and a walk

The Cubs will get their first look at J.A. Happ in an Astros’ uniform tonight. Happ was acquired from the Phillies in the Roy Oswalt deal … and figures to be a fixture in Houston’s rotation for years to come.

Happ is 5-3 in 12 starts with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP since being dealt to the Astros. Happ has pitched extremely well despite the fact he has not posted a win since September 5.

Happ is coming off a loss to the Pirates. The Battlin’ Bucs scored two unearned runs on four hits in six innings.

The soon to be 28-year old southpaw is 1-1 in his last five starts with a 2.54 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP.

The Cubs have faced Happ only once … and that was last year at Wrigley. The Phillies beat the Cubs on August 11, 2009 by a final of 4-3. Happ received a no decision after allowing two runs on seven hits in six innings. Ben Francisco hit a longball off Kevin Gregg in the 12th for the win.

Jeff Baker (2-for-3), Sam Fuld (1-for-3) and Alfonso Soriano (0-for-2) are the only active Cubs that have faced the talented Mr. Happ.

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Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne