Game Fifty-Three: Cubs (23-29) vs. Astros (20-34)
Game Time – 7:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Carlos Zambrano (5-2, 4.59/1.31) vs. Jordan Lyles (0-0, -.–/-.–)
It is the final day of May and the Cubs are in need of a good outing and a win from Carlos Zambrano.
The Cubs were 12-14 following the final game in April, 3 1/2 games back of the division leading Cardinals. The Cubs begin play tonight 23-29 (11-15 in May), 7 1/2 games behind the Cardinals and closer to the Astros than the second-place Milwaukee Brewers.
Q’s squad will be without Alfonso Soriano for at least a couple of days, if not longer. Following Monday’s loss, Mike Quade said he would continue to use Blake DeWitt in left field, especially against right-handed pitchers. The team is defensively challenged as it is … yet the Cubs keep running infielders into the outfield.
It will be interesting to see how many of the young players are in today’s starting lineup … and how many are on the bench.
Tonight is all starts with Carlos Zambrano … Carlos Zambrano is coming off a solid performance, and a win against the Mets. Z posted his first victory of the year at Wrigley (1-1 in five starts with a 3.94 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP) and his teammates need him to post his second tonight.
Z held the Mets to two runs, one earned, on six hits in six innings of work. The Cubs shortened up Z in his last outing after he threw 122 pitches (most since June of 2008) in 5 2/3 innings against the Red Sox back on May 21.
Zambrano beat the Astros on April 18 in Houston. Z was cruising along and had thrown five innings of shutout ball. After Z went yard in the top of the sixth, he lost his concentration on the mound and was lifted after recording only two outs in the bottom of the sixth. The Astros ended up scoring five runs on seven hits against Zambrano in 5 2/3 innings.
Big Z is 15-8 in 32 career games, 30 starts, versus the Astros with a 2.78 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP.
Astros Career Numbers against Carlos Zambrano
- Clint Barmes – 1-for-3 with a walk
- Michael Bourn – 6-for-18 with a double and 6 walks
- Bill Hall – 9-for-44 with 2 doubles, 2 triples and 6 walks
- Chris Johnson – 1-for-3
- Jeff Keppinger – 6-for-29 with a double and a walk
- Carlos Lee – 23-for-61 with 6 doubles, 5 home runs and 7 walks
- Hunter Pence – 5-for-28 with 2 doubles and 2 walks
- Angel Sanchez – 1-for-6
- J.R. Towles – 1-for-5 with a walk
- Brett Wallace – 2-for-5 with a double and a walk
The Astros selected Jordan Lyles in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft out of high school (Hartsville, SC) and the 6’4″ right hander has advanced quickly through their system.
Jordan Lyles was the Astros Minor League Pitcher of the Year for 2010 and Baseball America ranked Lyles the top prospect in Houston’s organization (42nd in all of baseball) prior to this season. Lyles, a 20-year old right-hander, will become the youngest player at the big league level tonight.
Lyles was 3-3 in 10 starts for Oklahoma City this season (Triple-A) with a 3.20 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP (41 strikeouts and 16 walks in 59 innings).
Lyles throws four average to above average pitches and has a very good mound presence, reportedly beyond his years. Lyles’ fastball sits in the high 80s to low 90s (88-93). Lyles’ changeup was graded as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale and he’s very tough on left- handed hitters. Lyles also throws a slider (low 80s) and a cutter (mid to high 80s, tops out around 87) and can command both sides of the plate.
The Cubs have struggled in recent years with pitchers similar to Jordan Lyles. They must make the rookie work early on and try to resist walking to the plate swinging. The Cubs have seemingly hacked at every pitch they’ve seen over the past four games.
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