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!”

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

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt