Game Twenty-Three: Cubs (9-13) vs. Cardinals (10-13)
Game Time – 2:55pm C.T. FOX, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Busch Stadium, St. Louis
Carlos Zambrano (1-2, 6.91/1.79) vs. Adam Wainwright (1-1, 5.04/1.80)
Carlos Zambrano is coming off his best start of the year last Monday against the Brewers. Zambrano allowed just 2 runs on 5 hits before leaving the game with 1-out in the 6th inning. While Zambrano’s numbers were not what many expect out of the Cubs ace, the most important line from the start was 7 strikeouts (a season high) to 3 walks and of the 103 pitches he threw, 62 were for strikes. Today will be the first start of the year for Zambrano against the Cardinals; the Cubs will need their ace to pitch like one and lead the way to a third straight victory for his team. Much has been made in the mainstream media in the past week about Zambrano’s contract talks having an effect on his performance on the mound, if that is the case then Zambrano must put his contract status out of his mind and pitch the way he is capable….someone needs to remind him if he pitches like an ace, he will be paid like an ace from either the Cubs or one of the teams in New York. His payday will come but he has a contract for this season and his job is to win ballgames.
Carlos Zambrano has just one win this season, he and the Cubs beat the Brewers in Milwaukee four weeks ago today. Zambrano threw 7 strong innings, was helped out by Derrek Lee’s defense and the key to the win against the Brewers was he allowed just 2 walks (a season low), kept the ball down and struck out 6.
With Bobby Howry “tweaking his back moving a grill on his patio”, Lou Piniella needs Zambrano to give his team another 7 inning start and when he leaves the game to be in line for his second victory of the season. Ryan Dempster threw a 1 2/3 innings on Friday night, so his availability is doubtful and another arm in the pen will have to step up and throw strikes against a good Cardinals offense that is capable of putting up runs in bunches.
Zambrano is 5-4 with a complete game in 15 career starts against the Cardinals (16 total games) with a 2.50 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. Last season he was 1-0 in 3 starts with a 1.89 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP (6 runs, 4 earned on 15 hits in 19 innings, 11 walks and 16 strikeouts). Today will be his first career start at new Busch Stadium. After last night’s game, Lou Piniella stated Henry Blanco could make the start on Saturday with Zambrano on the hill. Zambrano is 1-0 with a 3.65 ERA and only 5 walks in 12 1/3 innings with Blanco calling his game. With Michael Barrett behind the plate, Zambrano is 0-2 with a 9.60 ERA with 14 walks in 15 innings.
Adam Wainwright was the Cardinals starter in the series finale last Sunday at Wrigley. Wainwright received a no decision and gave up 7 runs on 12 hits in 5 1/3 innings that included home runs by Michael Barrett and Aramis Ramirez. After a stellar first start of the season against the Astros, Wainwright has allowed 14 runs, 13 earned, on 27 hits in 18 innings (6.50 ERA). Today will be his second start of the season at home, in his first the Pirates scored 5 runs, 4 earned, on 8 hits in 6 innings. Wainwright could not find the strike zone and walked 3 in route to a 6-1 loss.
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