Game Eighty-Seven: Cubs (44-42) vs. Pirates (39-48)
Game Time – 12:35pm C.T. Comcast Sports Net, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 189
Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh
Carlos Zambrano (10-6, 4.04/1.31) vs. Shane Youman (1-0, 3.00/1.50)
The wild, dramatic, see-saw of a ride that was the first half of the Cubs’ season come to a conclusion today with the finale of the 3-game series against the Pirates. The Cubs enter play today in 2nd place in the National League Central, 4 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. Lou Piniella’s crew has a record of 22-11 since June 3rd, the best in baseball, and have a chance to finish the first half 3 games over .500, a far cry from the 34-54 first half record last season. But in order to complete the first half on a winning note, they will need another solid performance from Carlos Zambrano and figure out how to beat a rookie left hander they have never faced before. Carlos Zambrano started the year with a sub-par performance against the Cincinnati Reds and muddled through the first two months of the season with a good outing here and there, but nothing consistent and nothing like the Carlos Zambrano the Faithful had been used to seeing on the mound. After “his season started” however, Zambrano has been lights out and was even in the running to make the All-Star team. Zambrano is 5-1 in his last 6 starts with the loss coming at the hands of the Padres, 1-0….Big Z has not allowed more than 2 runs in any of those starts.
Zambrano has pitched much better on the road than at Wrigley this season and is 7-1 in 9 starts with a 3.05 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. The Pirates beat him at Wrigley on May 10th. Zambrano gave up 6 runs, 4 earned, on 7 hits in 6 innings of work and today will be his 16th career start against the Bucs. Zambrano is 7-5 in 17 games, 15 starts, with a 4.22 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. At PNC, Zambrano is 4-0 in 9 games, 8 starts with a 4.17 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP.
Both losses on the current 7-game road trip have come at the hands of southpaws and the Cubs will face Shane Youman for the first time today. Youman was a teammate of Mike Fontenot and Ryan Theriot on the LSU Tigers and was a part of the team that won the 2000 College World Series. He was drafted by the Pirates in the 43rd round of the 2001 Draft and is taking the place of Zach Duke in Jim Tracy’s rotation. Duke was placed on the DL on July 1st with tendonitis in his left elbow and Youman was recalled from Triple-A on July 2nd.
Youman beat the Milwaukee Brewers in his only other appearance on the season last week in Pittsburgh. He held the Brewers high-powered offense to 2 runs on 8 hits in 6 innings of work with 2 strikeouts and 1 walk.
Youman was 0-2 last year at the Major League level in 5 games, 3 starts, with a 2.91 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.
The Cubs have to figure out “the riddle that are southpaws” and today would be a good time to start.
Finally from the mainstream-media-just-don’t-get-it-column…. Bill Madden from the NY Daily News on Sunday morning mentioned the name Kyle Farnsworth in the same sentence as the Chicago Cubs. Why oh why would Jim Hendry trade for a player he practically gave away? Plus, Farnsworth has all the talent in the world but that two cent head is just too much to handle.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….