Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Braves – 08/12/11

Game One Hundred Nineteen: Cubs (50-67) vs. Braves (69-49)
Game Time – 6:35pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 184
Location – Turner Field, Atlanta

Carlos Zambrano (9-6, 4.46/1.43) vs. Mike Minor (1-2, 4.85/1.59)

The Cubs begin a six-game, two-city road trip tonight with the first of three against the Atlanta Braves. The Fredi Gonzalez led Braves are the last team in the NL that the Cubs have not played this season … and they will face them seven times over the next 12 games (four-game series at Wrigley, August 22 – August 25). The Cubs won only two of six against Atlanta a year ago and both were memorable series.

The Braves are dealing with a lot of injuries but still maintain a record winning record … and the second best mark in the National League. Not only are Jair Jurrjens and Brian McCann on the DL but Tommy Hanson could also be joining them on the disabled list. The Cubs will not face Jurrjens, Hanson or Tim Hudson this weekend but Q’s offense will have to deal with Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy (Sunday against Matt Garza) and an old nemesis in Derek Lowe on Saturday night (against Randy Wells).

The Cubs will see a few familiar faces in a new uniform this weekend … the red-hot Dan Uggla, who is currently riding a 31-game hitting streak, and Michael Bourn. The Cubs will also face a Braves team for the first time since 1990 without Bobby Cox in the dugout. Fredi Gonzalez is calling the shot now … and maybe the Braves will not throw at Alfonso Soriano during the series.

Bobby Cox will be on hand and in the park tonight. The Braves are honoring their former skipper by retiring his familiar #6 in a pre-game ceremony.

The Cubs have won nine of the last 11 and are have hit at least one home run in the last nine games. Eleven different players have hit 21 longballs during the nine-game streak.

Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker should be in the lineup tonight against the Braves’ southpaw. Will Starlin Castro get a breather tonight after his ten-game hitting streak ended on Thursday?

Tonight it all starts with Carlos Zambrano

Carlos Zambrano is coming off back-to-back wins and solid six-inning starts against both the Reds and Pirates. After holding the Pirates to one run (a Derrek Lee homer) on seven hits in six innings, Z gave up three run to the Reds on six hits in six innings. Z walked four but most of his inconsistency and struggle with the strike zone came before he launched his second home run of the season.

Z is 2-0 in his last two starts with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP (seven walks and 11 strikeouts in 12 innings) … since the break 3-2 in five starts with a 4.91 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP.

Tonight will be Z’s 13th career start against the Braves. Z is 2-4 in 12 career games, all starts, with a 5.43 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP … and one of Zambrano’s more memorable starts in his career came against the Braves on June 1, 2007.

Carlos Zambrano has not posted a win against the Braves since July 15, 2002 and is 1-1 in four career starts at Turner Field with a 6.52 ERA and a 1.76 WHIP.

Braves Career Numbers against Carlos Zambrano

  • Michael Bourn – 8-for-25 with a double and 6 walks
  • Brooks Conrad – 1-for-3 with a triple
  • Alex Gonzalez – 6-for-19 with 2 doubles
  • Jason Heyward – 1-for-1 with a home run
  • Eric Hinske – 1-for-3
  • Chipper Jones – 7-for-25 with a double, a home run and 3 walks
  • Julio Lugo – 1-for-3 with a home run
  • Martin Prado – 2-for-3
  • David Ross – 2-for-12 with 2 home runs and a walk
  • Dan Uggla – 1-for-9 with 4 walks

The Cubs will get their second shot at the Braves’ former first round pick (2009 out of Vanderbilt). Mike Minor spent a lot of June and most of July down on the farm and is coming off a no decision against the Mets (August 7) after allowing four runs on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. The Braves won the game 6-5 in his first start in the majors since June 21.

The Cubs must be patient against the very talented southpaw. He can lose command and when he does he is very hittable.

Mike Minor is 1-1 in three starts at Turner Field this season with a 4.67 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP … teams are hitting .294 against him in his home park.

The 23-year old lefty is 1-0 in the only start of his career against the Cubs with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. Minor beat the Cubs at Wrigley last August 22 … Lou Piniella’s last day as the skipper of the Chicago Cubs.

Jeff Baker (0-for-3), Darwin Barney (0-for-3), Marlon Byrd (2-for-3), Starlin Castro (2-for-3 with a double), Koyie Hill (0-for-3), Aramis Ramirez (2-for-3 with a home run) and Alfonso Soriano (0-for-3) are the only Cubs with limited at bats against Mike Minor.

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