Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Pirates – 04/02/11

Game Two: Cubs (0-1) vs. Pirates (1-0)
Game Time – 12:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Carlos Zambrano (0-0, -.–/-.–) vs. Paul Maholm (0-0, -.–/-.–)

Q’s crew will try to even their record this afternoon behind Carlos Zambrano. Big Z had a tremendous end to a rough season and followed up his second half with a solid spring. In order for the Cubs to contend in the Central, they will need Carlos Zambrano perform like he did prior to August of 2008.

Mike Quade will run out his left-handed lineup this afternoon. Jeff Baker is expected to hit in the leadoff spot with Geovany Soto moving up to the fifth-hole. Will Reed Johnson make the start in right or will Quade insert Tyler Colvin in the eighth spot against the southpaw?

Carlos Zambrano finished last season with an 11-6 record in 36 games, 20 starts, with a 3.33 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP … a very respectable season for the Big Z.

After he returned from suspension, Z was 8-0 in the second half with a 1.58 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP in 14 games, 11 starts. Z held teams to a .195 average and served up only one dinger in 74 innings.

Zambrano has struggled in recent seasons against the Pirates. He was 1-1 in three games, one start, last year with a 3.68 ERA and a 1.77 WHIP … for his career, 12-8 in 30 games, 26 starts, with a 4.02 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP.

Pirates Career Numbers against Carlos Zambrano

  • Pedro Alvarez – 1-for-3 with a double
  • Ronny Cedeno – 2-for-6
  • Ryan Doumit – 8-for-18 with 3 doubles and 6 walks
  • Jason Jaramillo – 0-for-6
  • Garrett Jones – 4-for-9 with a home run and a walk
  • Paul Maholm – 0-for-5 with a walk
  • Andrew McCutchen – 5-for-7 with a double, a triple and 4 walks
  • Lyle Overbay – 4-for-21 with 2 walks
  • Steve Pearce – 1-for-5 with a walk
  • Jose Tabata – 0-for-3
  • Neil Walker – 1-for-6

Paul Maholm is coming off a rough 2010 campaign. The very talented lefty posted a 9-15 record in 32 starts with a 5.10 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP, teams hit a robust .303 against him.

Three of Maholm’s nine wins came against the Cubs and both of his road wins (2-6 in 15 starts away from PNC with a 4.81 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP) came at Wrigley Field… fitting stats considering how poorly the Cubs have played against the pesky Pirates since the end of the 2009 season.

Maholm has the stuff to be a middle of the rotation starter but has yet to put it all together.

Today will be Maholm’s 14th career start against the Cubs. He is 7-2 with a 6.42 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP (3-1 in four starts last season with a 5.01 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP, 5-2 in nine career starts at Wrigley with a 7.26 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP). The Cubs have proven they can hit him, and score runs … they just have trouble putting the games away. Sound familiar?

Cubs Career Numbers against Paul Maholm

  • Jeff Baker – 6-for-11 with 3 doubles
  • Marlon Byrd – 3-for-12 with a double and a walk
  • Starlin Castro – 4-for-8 with 2 doubles
  • Tyler Colvin – 1-for-6
  • Blake DeWitt – 1-for-2
  • Kosuke Fukudome – 0-for-4
  • Koyie Hill – 1-for-2
  • Reed Johnson – 7-for-11 with 2 doubles and a walk
  • Aramis Ramirez – 10-for-30 with 2 doubles, 2 home runs and a walk
  • Alfonso Soriano – 8-for-28 with 2 doubles, 4 home runs and 4 walks
  • Geovany Soto – 6-for-15 with a double, a home run and 2 walks
  • Carlos Zambrano – 1-for-4

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Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …

Quote of the Day

"Our attitude towards others determines their attitude towards us." - Earl Nightingale
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  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Today’s lineup:

    Baker – 2B
    Castro – SS
    Byrd – CF
    Ramirez – 3B
    Soto – C
    Pena – 1B
    Soriano – LF
    Colvin – RF
    Zambrano – P

  • CaptainKix

    Let’s hope for some more timely hitting today. I think Z will have a solid outing. Glad to see Colvin in the lineup.

  • The Maven

    It looks like a try out to see if Soto can handle more responsibility.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    According to the Trib, Cubs not taking BP today

    • Tony_Hall

      Why would they want extra BP? They are hitting on all cylinders already!

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Tony, you’re right. What was I thinking? 11 hits is a good day, it doesn’t matter that the 21-year old was the only player that squared up a ball.

        • Tony_Hall

          Of course they may not even be driving a 4 cylinder.

          • fryegye

            perhaps a wankel?

  • Tony_Hall

    Tom & Pete Ricketts, both saying the right things.

    Pete R said – that once you sign a contract with a player, that money is already spent. You want to take the best players with you.

    “That money is already spent”…maybe they do read the CCO!

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Honestly, with Reed Johnson’s numbers against Maholm I would have him in the lineup in Center, Byrd in RF, and Colvin at 1b.

  • fryegye

    I know we have discussed this before, but it still hits me that the difference between the offense scoring 780 runs instead of 680 is seen in two stats – OBP and RISP. Plate discipline and timely hitting were woefully lacking last year and were MIA in Spring Training this year.

    I find it unsettling that only three players on the roster have a >.350 career OBP – Fukudome, Soto, and Pena. That means even our players who hit for average like Castro and Byrd (2 and 3 hitters) are not getting on base with any winning regularity.

    The Cubs hit .262 with a .340 OBP last year with RISP.
    In 2008, the Cubs hit .278 with a .367 OBP with RISP.

    I don’t think this is rocket science. You have to have runners on base to pressure pitching. Pressured pitching leads to timely hitting. It strikes me that if you improve in one area, it will force improvement in the other. That leads to more W’s.

    I watch Castro, Byrd, Soriano, and Colvin constantly expand the zone, making it easy for pitchers to relax. I get the eagerness for contact in the kids, but Byrd and Soriano (and nearly everyone else) need to monitor and adjust.

    I’m beginning to think that plate discipline with this group is the difference between an ok season (83-79 was my pick) and another lost season.

    • Tony_Hall

      The #1 team last year was the Yankees at 350 OBP

      2nd was the Twins at 341

      15th place was 325 – middle of the pack.

      There were only 46 players (with 500 AB’s) that had an OBP over 350.

      I

      • fryegye

        I’m not sure “the year of the pitcher” numbers are any better at predicting the norm than the 1968 “year of the pitcher” numbers were. I’m suspect about 2010 and pitching – but that’s another issue.

        But then again, the Cubs team OBP in 2008 was .354.

        • Tony_Hall

          Last year wasn’t (to me) the year of the pitcher, but more the year with less steriods and less pick me ups, in a pill.

          What if this is the new, normal. It will put more of an emphasis, on doing the little things well, which OBP w/RISP is one of them.

          • fryegye

            Possibly. But in 2008, only 5 teams had team ERAs <4.00. In 2009, 6 teams had team ERAs <4.00. In 2010, 11 teams had team ERAs <4.00.
            And 2010 gave us 6 no-hitters as opposed to an average of less than 3 per year historically.

        • Dorasaga

          Last year, the Commissioner’s Office required all umpires to speed up the game (and perhaps whispered a little expansion of borderline strikes). That’s a fact. I believe (now, this, I’m not sure of the source) they also used a newer baseball that wasn’t designed to bounce as great as before.

          All were done to erase the Selig (Steroid) Age. Amen.

  • fryegye

    And the Pirates?

    Cubs vs. Pirates in 2008 14-4
    Cubs vs. Pirates in 2010 5-10

    9 fewer wins against a marginally lesser opponent. Sigh.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Here’s one for ya … dating back to the last two games against the Pirates in 2009 (it was a double header), the Cubs are 5-13 versus Pittsburgh (0-2, 5-10, 0-1).

      • Tony_Hall

        IF the Cubs could just take care of business, against the Pirates, it would make them a competitive team this year.

        The best teams, take care of busienss, against the lesser teams.

      • fryegye

        Oh fine, just rub salt on the wound…

        To think that the difference between a 4th winning season in a row and a lost season centers around the Pirates (not really, but still…). No wonder I cringed when they announced the season. OH NO, not the Mighty, Mighty Pirates!

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          At some point if the Cubs want to be one of the teams in the mix, they must beat the Pirates and Astros … just to name a couple of teams. The Cubs do not match up well against the Pirates and Astros staffs. A team must be patient against the soft tossers, the Cubs lineup is full of impatient fastball hitters.

          • diehardcubfan

            Great post Neil and dead on. It is an understatement that the Cubs lineup is full of impatient fastball hitters. Glad JH has done so much to address that problem.

  • Dorasaga

    I just found this great quote, and very suiting for all Cubs fans.

    “OF COURSE we can beat the Yankees. It’s not even a question. The Yankees can only play nine players at a time. They can’t sign all the good players out there and play them. [...] I’m sick of excuses. People say we can’t beat the Yankees. That’s ridiculous. [...] We just need to find the players and develop them into good players. If we don’t do that, it’s not the Yankees’ fault.” –Buck O’Neil

    It’s about hope. It’s about being a fan, why I love the Cubs; hope never dies. It’s also about winning. It’s also about what it takes to think like a Major Leaguer. It’s about NO FREAKING EXCUSE for the Cubs to not win it all.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Great quote!

  • Tony_Hall

    Soft throwing lefty…something the Cubs have struggled with for years.

    Let’s hope that we can change that trend, starting today!

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Good bounce back for Z after issuing the lead off walk

  • Tony_Hall

    Zambrano looks like he is over the top, and not dropping down like he does when he struggles.

  • Tony_Hall

    Multiple walks in the same inning, will almost, always hurt you.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    More two out runs for the Mighty Pirates … all six yesterday scored with two outs, and they just did it again. A single by Alvarez on a 1-2 pitch.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Are there any pitches the Cubs’ offense does not like? Too aggressive … 1-2-3 on 7 pitches.

  • fryegye

    Maholm with 7 pitches to get three outs.

  • fryegye

    Nice bounce back inning for Z.

  • Tony_Hall

    14 pitches? 2 innings!

  • fryegye

    I have to leave around 1:30, so I really appreciate the Cubs speeding up the game for me today.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Another 7-pitch inning for Maholm … 1-2-3 in the second

  • Serothis

    sweet jebus this is embarrassing…

    I’m starting to think that my 74-88 guess was an too optimistic.

  • Tony_Hall

    Maholm needs 7 pitches to do a whole inning.

    Z can use 7 pitches on any batter he chooses.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Excellent play by Pena … bailed out Z, a 3-6-1 double play.

  • GaryLeeT

    The best part of Zambrano allowing so many base runners is that he will get to the bottom of the order at some point during the inning.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    One pitch, one out to start the third for the Cubs.

  • Tony_Hall

    Well, at least someone can hit!

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    A statement about the Cubs’ offense … Zambrano with the best at bat of the game, first extra base of the year for the Cubs.

  • Tony_Hall

    Did everyone hear that?

    Z saw 7 pitches.

    The Cubs only saw 7 pitches per inning for the first 2.

  • Serothis

    I gotta give props to z for that nice at bat. I don’t know whats more embarrassing, that our most patient hitter seems to be our pitcher Or that our pitcher took as many pitches as our first 3 and second 3 hitters respectively…

  • Tony_Hall

    What was Byrd swinging at?

    The first pitch, you shouldn’t swing at anything, but your pitch.

  • Tony_Hall

    Another 7 pitch inning!

    This is an early game, plenty of time to go out to dinner later.

  • Jonas

    this is a joke lol… hopefully those seats keep getting emptier so the Ricketts’ get the message… enough of this garbage

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    The third 7-pitch inning for Maholm …

  • Tony_Hall

    Pena does have a good glove!

    • Jonas

      he could have the best glove in baseball history… if we keep getting owned by teams like Pittsburgh with guys like Correia and Maholm on the mound it wont make a difference

      • Tony_Hall

        That is the main reason, that many of us were against the Garza deal. Pitching was not the problem. Yes Garza will be nice to have, but giving up 4 of our top prospects to make our rotation better, when Offense and approach at the plate is the biggest problem.

    • paulcatanese

      computer just came up,first news of the game. Tony,I agree with you on Penas glove he made two excellent scoops yesterday and wish I could see todays game but the Sox(so what) are on. As an ex infielder I know how difficult those plays were,andthey were great.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Colvin with another good at bat … single to left. First time Cubs have had two runners on base at the same time.

    • Jonas

      sweet… Worked out about as well as expected… gotta love the Cubs and their two-out singles with no one in scoring position.. even better when the pitcher is up next

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Bruce Miles beat me to it, but 14 of the first 15 hits for the Cubs this season have been singles. No position player has an extra basehit.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Colvin, Z and Soto have had the best at bats today.

    • Jonas

      Interesting that only 1 of the 3 you just named above is even a fulltime starter and he is the catcher… brutal

  • fryegye

    Cubs have four hits. Zero walks. Zero runs.
    Pirates have four hits. Three walks. Two runs.

    Plate discipline?

    Gotta go.

    • diehardcubfan

      Your stats above point to what is bad about the Cubs. We can’t get on base and can’t hit with runners in scoring position. It is going to be a long year.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Jeff Baker with a double in the sixth, first position player with an extra basehit.

  • Baron_S

    the only double of the day has come from Z — what an offense….

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Ramirez with the Cubs first walk of the day … then Soto grounds out on the first pitch of his at bat.

  • Bryan

    Soto’s turn to leave a runner in scoring position. Just pathetic to watch.

  • Bryan

    Second game in a row….Quade allows the starter to go around 100 pitches.

    So Zambrano leaves, and only Cub fans would give a standing ovation to a guy leaving the game down 3-0. Geez.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Bryan, Z had issues but three runs over 7 innings is not bad. Offense must do more, if the score holds up, this loss is on the offense, or lack of offense, more than Z.

    • paulcatanese

      Yeah Bryan, I also wonder about this time of year,to let these guys go that long,Quade ought to know by now about Demp and how he self destructs in a hurry.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Z out, looks like cramps to me. Will post when I find out.

  • Bryan

    And now in chilly weather, and down 3-0, you bring in Wood. Really?

    • JedMosley

      I think it turned out to be a pretty good move don’t you think?

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Zambrano left with cramping in his right hand

  • diehardcubfan

    Another excellent day for the offense. Glad we are facing some real tough pitching.

    I hate to see what will happen when we start facing some guys that can actually pitch.

    Spring training is definitely carrying over into the regular season.

    Glad the Reds, Cardinals and Brewers are projected to be not that good (HA HA).

  • Jonas

    I guess the baseball gods assumed that a combined 26 runs over two games for both Chicago teams was enough…. who woulda thought 23 of those runs would come from the wrong side… Sox fans are already chirpin their asses off, this is pathetic… hopefully ricketts fixes this before all the young fans of Chicago baseball make their decision on which team they will cheer for for their lives… if i ever hear tom ricketts use the ‘we dont sell enough seats’ excuse like KW always does i will puke

  • John_CC

    Guess I haven’t missed much. And reading through the string I am glad that have missed it. Same old same old, eh? Overly aggressive, free swingers. I hate it so much.

    How did Z look? I am curious because I had a moment of weakness near the end of my fantasy draft and picked him up. He is one of the most frustrating players to own in the fake game. Should I just drop him now?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Z was fine, command problems early which cost him. Left with cramping in his right hand in the seventh.

  • studio179

    Add me to the list of being impressed with the offense. Not that I am suprised, but this is not the toughest of pitching they are facing.

  • Brentcarmona

    Five straight innings w the leadoff man on base, so I heard from pat onthe radio…ugghhhhh

  • diehardcubfan

    Finally, some clutch. Glad it was Castro.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Castro with a nice double and a break …

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Soriano hit the ball! Soriano hit the ball! Soriano hit the ball!

  • JimBo_C

    Good job Fonzie

  • JimBo_C

    Perhaps Evan Meek is not as invincible as Kasper and Brenly make him out to be

  • Dorasaga

    Yyeah! The best part of that at0bat was that old Fonzi worked the count! (well, swinging at those sliders wasn’t smart, but hey, the result is all that matterS!)

    Soriano might not be the most disciplined, but he sure showed how much he wanted to win this one!

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    DeWitt with a double?

    Soriano and DeWitt deliver with two outs in the eighth!

  • JimBo_C

    Outstanding piece of hitting by DeWitt

  • John_CC

    DeWitt!

  • JedMosley

    DeWitt!!!!

  • studio179

    Hey, offense comes alive.

    Pena’s AB was the only one that looks like he was swinging for the fence. Most the other ABs are guys going with the pitches in this inning. Good job.

  • Serothis

    So I clearly need to stop making predictions. I was convinced that fonzie would strike out, he didn’t. Then I though dewitt was going to hit a slow grounder…he didn’t.

    • Serothis

      these damn cubs are trying to force feed me another cup of koolaid

  • JimBo_C

    Marmol stuff is nasty, nasty, nasty!

  • scott

    Nice Win!!!!

  • John_CC

    Well howaboutthat! A come from behind win!

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs beat the Pirates 5-3 Saturday. Scored 5 in the 8th. Soriano with tying RBI, DeWitt with 2 run double. Marmol struck out side in 9th.

  • Dorasaga

    Senior Nasty = 3 K = Cubs Win.

  • Craig Y

    Great come from behind win today. We could not get a clutch hit all game till the 9th. Hopefully Fonzy and Dewitt can build off this… And Marmol is INSANE!

  • Santo4Ever89

    NATION REPRESENT!!!!

    CUBS WIN!!!!!

    • Jim_Tinley_Park

      Thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/JMattWeaver Matt Weaver

    All about the bulls — El Toro looked solid and the bullpen lights em up.

    Oh! And a nice piece of country hitting in the eighth too. Go Cubs!

  • GaryLeeT

    There is no way a game this early in the season could have been called a must win. could it?