Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Astros – 07/22/11

Game One Hundred: Cubs (39-60) vs. Astros (33-36)
Game Time – 1:20pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Carlos Zambrano (6-5, 4.78/1.41) vs. Bud Norris (5-6, 3.59/1.28)

Weather permitting … The two worst teams in baseball begin a three-game weekend series this afternoon in what should be billed as a ‘Battle for Fifth Place in the NL Central‘. For all of the problems the Cubs have had this season, Houston has had it worse … except when they’ve played the Cubs. The last time the Astros were at Wrigley (May 30 – June 1) they swept the three-game series and the Cubs are just 2-4 against the ‘Stros this season.

Prior to the three-game series against the Nationals, Houston was 8-30 dating back June 3 and had not won back-to-back games in 46 days. The Astros took two of three from the Nationals and begin play this afternoon riding a two-game winning streak.

The Cubs will miss Brett Myers this weekend … as well as the recently traded Jeff Keppinger (Giants). After Bud Norris this afternoon, Q’s offense will face Wandy Rodriguez (Saturday) and Jordan Lyles (Sunday). Quade decided to keep Randy Wells in the rotation and he will pitch Saturday with Matt Garza taking the hill in the finale. Rodrigo Lopez has been sent to the bullpen for the weekend.

On the Cubs front, Q’s squad must win 24 of their final 63 games to avoid a 100-loss season. The Cubs have not won a series in their last nine attempts (0-8-1) and have not posted back-to-back victories since the end of June.

As the cliché goes, every team wins 60 and every team loses 60 during a baseball season, it is the other 42 that make the difference. Well, the Cubs have already lost 60 and enter play this afternoon 21 games below .500 (only two losses away from the low-point of the 2010 campaign).

Today it all begins with Carlos Zambrano

Carlos Zambrano will make his second start since spending time on the DL at the end of the first half. Zambrano struggled in his last outing and allowed three runs to the Marlins in the first inning. Big Z ended up going just 4 2/3 innings and allowing eight runs on seven hits with four walks and six strikeouts. Mike Stanton hit two bombs in the Cubs 13-3 loss to the Fish.

The Cubs need a good outing from Zambrano this afternoon … and for him to just go out and win a ballgame. Big Z has struggled at Wrigley this season (1-3 in nine starts with a 4.88 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP).

This afternoon will be the 32nd career start of Zambrano’s career against Houston … 15-8 in 33 games, 31 starts, with a 2.72 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP … 1-0 in two starts against the Astros this season with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP.

Astros Career Numbers against Carlos Zambrano

  • Clint Barmes – 2-for-7 with a double and a walk
  • Michael Bourn – 6-for-22 with a double and 6 walks
  • Matt Downs – 2-for-4 with a double and a home run
  • Chris Johnson – 1-for-6
  • Carlos Lee – 24-for-65 with 6 doubles, 5 home runs and 7 walks
  • Hunter Pence – 7-for-32 with 2 doubles and 2 walks
  • Humberto Quintero – 1-for-11 with a double and a walk
  • Angel Sanchez – 1-for-6
  • Brett Wallace – 4-for-8 with a double, a home run and a walk

Bud Norris is coming off a serviceable outing against the Pirates. Norris allowed four runs on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings with two walks and five strikeouts … the Bucs hit three homers against the 26-year old right hander. The Astros ended up winning with game 6-4 and Norris received a no decision.

For as good as Norris has been this season, he’s struggled on the road to the tune of a 2-3 record in seven starts with a 4.83 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP.

Bud Norris is 1-0 in his last three starts with a 4.82 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP.

This afternoon will be Norris’ third career start against the Cubs. He is 1-1 in three career outings, two starts, with a 1.80 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP. Today will be Norris’ first start (second appearance) at Wrigley Field.

Cubs Career Numbers against Bud Norris

  • Jeff Baker – 1-for-5 with a double
  • Darwin Barney – 0-for-3
  • Starlin Castro – 2-for-3
  • Blake DeWitt – 1-for-5
  • Kosuke Fukudome – 0-for-4 with a walk
  • Koyie Hill – 1-for-4
  • Carlos Pena – 1-for-3
  • Aramis Ramirez – 0-for-3
  • Alfonso Soriano – 0-for-1 with 2 walks

Boys of Spring – The Movie
Friend of the CCO, Tim Sheridan, is putting the finishing touches on a Cubs documentary about his time with the Chicago Cubs. Tim is the long-time P.A. announcer at HoHoKam Park in Mesa and the film is full of behind the scenes, never-before-see footage shot by Tim as he worked next to Cubs legends like Harry Caray and Ron Santo.

From the official press release: To be a part of Boys of Spring – The Movie, fans can donate as little as $10 using an Amazon.com account. As a thank you, fans will receive a copy of the Boys of Spring documentary before its official release next spring. There are a range of donation levels and rewards available on Kickstarter.com, including Cubs memorabilia and your name in the movie’s credits.

Boys of Spring isn’t about a team winning or losing. It’s about something deeper. An examination of life on its winding path and how, in spite of perceived failures, there is happiness and success. Cub fans will find joy this season and for years to come with the Boys of Spring film by donating and claiming their place in Cubs history. An epic World Series drought can’t stop the faithful Cubs followers, who know better than anyone – “There’s always next spring!”

BoysofSpring-Pub.jpg

The CCO will be running reminders during game previews for the next few weeks and I encourage the Faithful to check out ‘Boys of Spring – The Movie

Follow the CCO on Twitter: @TheCCO

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:

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

  • Gramps

    I really would like to see Campana lead off and play RF (or move Byrd to RF) for a few games. Maybe see what this kid can do over a period of time, but with Quade it probably will never happen. 21 games under and the same lineup over and over again. Sickening!!!!

    • paulcatanese

      I know its very frustrating. But I think they wont make a move with any kids until after the trade deadline. Then again your’e probably right with Quade at the helm, it could be until September, it then. Did not see it last fall, so who knows with this crew at the helm.

  • Jeff S
    • John_CC

      Very good article. Thanks Jeff.

      • JW

        While I commend Quade for finally moving Castro to the 2 hole and batting Soriano 3rd, he continuously proves over and over again that he doesn’t get it by batting Soto 6th and Soriano 7th when their season and career numbers support the reverse.

        Soriano 6th 269/304/504 (Career 272/321/502) and 7th 248/285/411 (257/295/438)
        Soto 6th 164/305/327 (Career 249/362/402) and 7th 273/289/386 (Career 286/363/503)

        Hey Tom (Ricketts) – If you need someone to help you sort through all these numbers, gimme a call!

    • diehardcubfan

      Great article and it points out what we here on this site already know.  Unfortunately JH continues to live in delusion and thinks that we actually have a chance in 2012. 

      Whatever JH is taking I want some of that because I can stop living in reality and live in fantasy land.

  • John_CC

    Leadoff walk and Z loads ‘em up with no outs in the second…

  • John_CC

    Zambrano just can’t fool anyone anymore. 

  • jfish1219

    and here comes a grand slam

  • jfish1219

    and for once I’m happy to be wrong

  • Tno13

    Zambrano is all over the place today. Q had better pull Castro before this game gets out of hand.

    • jfish1219

      Lol good call

    • diehardcubfan

      Remember, it’s Barney and Castro while this team stinks.  The veterans are playing with intensity and grit.

  • John_CC

    Sweet base running. 

  • RynoTiger

    I don’t get why Lopez was put in the bullpen..he’s actually been good of late and Wells has been crap…oh wait..now I get it…

    • diehardcubfan

      You are so right.   I have actually been impressed with Lopez.  Wells should be the one in the pen but hey its the Cubs management we are talking about here.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs waste another leadoff double

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Z with a 1-2-3 inning

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Soriano with a homer … First longball since June 19

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Aramis!

  • Gramps

    Can anyone explain this to me? Why waste Russell for one batter in the 7th inning with no one on base and a 2 run lead? Quade continually baffles me! I hope he does not need a lefty later in the game. 

    • John_CC

      He’s saving Grabow for that situation. That is what he gets paid for, you know.

      • Darrenmcculloch

        I thought they kept Grabow around to carry everyones bags to the bullpen.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Marmol in with one out in the eighth

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Marmol strikes out 2 on 9 pitches, 7 for strikes

  • Stu_studdly

    Love hearing Jeff Garlin saying we should trade Aramis and Soriano. 

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs beat the Astros 4-2 Friday. Carlos Zambrano: 2R, 4H, BB, 3K in 6IP; Aramis Ramirez: 2-for-4, 2B, HR, 2RBI; Soriano: 2-for-4, 2B, HR

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    And no charged errors today

  • paulcatanese

    Now I see why the Astros are the worst team in baseball. The Cubs totally dominated today. However were very lucky in the first three innings to keep it so close. Zambrano looked  uninterested to even be out on the mound and if he had pitched against anyone else the same way he would have been bombed. Pena took gas again with strikeouts. The only thing Marmol did     correctly was to not walk anyone. Astros were sick against him, well he needed a confidence boost and he got it, but I wouldnt take too many kudos if he were to take into account who he was pitching against. I really think the Cubs need worry about finishing behind them they are a lock to finish last.

    • paulcatanese

      I really dont know how I could have been so stupid regarding the hope of the younger players playing over some of these vets. Management has been putting the vets out there to showcase them until the trading deadline and will make no change until after that, if then.

    • John_CC

      Yes, the Astros and Cubs both specialize in the same pathetic style — unable to drive in runners in scoring position.

  • diehardcubfan

    Sorry if I am sounding pessimistic but even if the Cubs sweep the Astros that is about as hollow a victory as a team can have especially on a 130 million plus payroll. 

    The fact will still remain on Monday morning that we are in 5th place.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil
    • John_CC

      I like Kaplan a lot.  I sure hope his source is right about Soriano and about Ricketts.  And of course I agree with all of his suggestions, who doesn’t at this point? 

    • paulcatanese

      He sounds like an echo to a lost of posts I have seen for quite a while. But nice to seee it again.

    • Tony_Hall

      Tommy Boy, must be having a lot of sleepless nights, if he truly is more in touch with the depth of this teams problems, then he actually has shown in public.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

        I think he is more in touch with the problems of this team than he is willing to show in public. The only problem is that he has to look in the mirror to see the cause on a lot of it.

        • paulcatanese

          Richard, as much as we all bash Ricketts, and I know I do, I believe deep down he is actually in touch with the problems. I think his problem is he dosen’t know how to deal with it , I cannot believe anyone in their right mind would not be aware of them. He has got to know if not corrected he will lose this franchise as people who have tickets (season) will not renew next year and he still has a big financial burden that will not go away.

          • cubtex

            I echo those sentiments 100%! He knows what he needs to do…and he will make changes. He didn’t pay 854 million to sit back and lose it. Hendry will be either gone or given a diminished role(if you are still going to pay him…why not have him do scouting or something to that capacity) and Quade will definately be gone.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

            I actually think that Quade has a place here. It is just not as manager of the big league club. He looks over his head at his current position (in all fairness though a lot of first year managers do). But his resume shows that he knows how to work with kids in a number of positions. Who ever is in what ever role next year needs to have a heart to heart and tell him strait up that his future is working with the kids or somewhere else if he still wants to try being a big league manager.

          • JimBo_C

            Paul,
            I agree with you. Ricketts knows he has a problem and that he is not quite sure where to start. If the rumors have any validity, starting with an experienced /successful baseball guy (with front office and scouting contacts) as president sounds like a good place to start to me. Give the president the power to set up his organizational structure and govern the organization. This type of guy would clear out the dead wood and find field staff (managers and coaches) that show some faith in the young guys.

            In the meantime we need to play these overpaid players in an effort to get 50 cents on the dollar for them. Once August 1st comes, start sitting down the overpaid guys.

          • cubtex

            Agreed!

    • Tom U

      I find it hard to believe that an American League team that needs a bat would balk at Soriano at 6.66 M a season for the next three years.

      I’ve spoke about equitable trades in the past. If you’re willing to get rid of a player bad enough that your going to kick 40 M into the deal, the only way you can’t pull that off is if you ask for too much in return.

      At this point, a bag of used batting practice balls and a cracked fungo bat would make an equitable deal.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    According to Bruce Levine, the Indians are “hot on the trail” of Kosuke Fukudome … and there are teams interested in Soriano. Levine said he could not name those teams at this time. 

    • The Maven

      Levine must not have bought Hendry’s prune danish today.

    • paulcatanese

      Neil, thats probably because they have bags on their heads not to be recognized when they talk to the media and dont want to be embarrassed for seeking someone from the Cubs.

  • The Maven

    Nice to see Kap finally on board, but where was that at the BEGINNING of the season, when everyone else realized it.

  • cubtex

    Baseball America listed one of the Cubs players on their Helium list as players who are on the rise. The young kids the Cubs have been adding is really impressive!

     
    HELIUM WATCH
    Marco Hernandez, ss, Cubs: The Cubs have added a wave of Latin American talent to the lower levels of their farm system. As a result, the organization now faces a dilemma, albeit a good one, in trying to sort out playing time for Hernandez and Gioskar Amaya with its Rookie-level Arizona club. Amaya, an 18-year-old from Venezuela, has played mostly second base, though he’s also spent time at shortstop and third base, while Hernandez, an 18-year-old Dominican, has been the primary shortstop but also has played a bit at second. At the plate, they have both excelled in their U.S. debuts. Amaya is hitting .390/.427/.476, showing advanced baseball instincts for his age. Hernandez is the better athlete with a more lively, projectable body (6 feet, 170 pounds) and has hit .310/.355/.410 through 24 games. Hernandez has good bat speed from the left side and shows good bat-to-ball ability, though he projects more as a doubles hitter than a power threat.