Game One Hundred Thirteen: Cubs (58-54) vs. Astros (50-63)
Game Time – 7:05pm C.T. WGN TV, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 183
Location – Minute Maid Park, Houston
Carlos Zambrano (14-7, 3.42/1.25) vs. Roy Oswalt (11-6, 3.55/1.34)
Updated – 5:32pm C.T. – ESPN 1000 in Chicago is reporting the Cubs have put in a claim for outfielder, Shannon Stewart. Bruce Levine is reporting the Cubs now have 48 hours from Noon on Wednesday to negotiate a deal with the Oakland A’s. Levine also stated that Jim Hendry put in 4 other claims that did not go through. Here is a link to Stewart’s stats with the A’s this season.
After two months of very good baseball, Lou Piniella’s crew has found themselves once again in a must win situation. They have cooled off, to say the least, and have to find a way to get back on track. Carlos Zambrano must step-up tonight and continue pitching the way he has since “his season started back” in June. Zambrano stated this past week he is ready to sign his new contract to stay in Chicago and his recent performances on the field have warranted Cy Young conversation, but those are personal accolades and tonight he has to be a team player.
Zambrano left his last start with heat related cramps but all reports have indicated he is fine and ready to go tonight. Big Z will also help the struggling offense and hopefully his fire can spark a solid game against one of the best pitchers in the league. While it all starts with Carlos Zambrano, the offense has to relax and do their job as well. Carlos Zambrano had control problems his last time out against the Mets before he left in the 6th inning. Zambrano tied a career high in walks with 7 and struck out just 5. Zambrano has to throw strikes tonight and cut down on his walks. Not only to keep pressure off himself and his team but to keep his pitch count down and allow him to pitch late in the game.
Zambrano has been lights out in the second half. He has allowed just 3 earned runs in his last 5 starts on 14 hits (0.89 ERA) but he has walked 18 and struck out just 26. Zambrano has to improve on those two numbers if he wants to finish the season strong.
Zambrano has pitched much better on the road this season than at home. Big Z is 9-2 with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP away from Wrigley and just a .500 pitcher at the Friendly Confines….5-5 with a 4.09 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. Zambrano has had success of late against the Astros but they are an entirely different team at Minute Maid (30-25) than they are on the road (20-38). And Zambrano will have to deal with the biggest Cub killer of them all, Carlos Lee.
Zambrano has beaten the Astros both times he faced them at Wrigley this season. He held the Astros to 1 unearned run on 3 hits in 8 innings on June 11th and shut them out on 3 hits in 6 2/3 innings on July 13th. Zambrano is 10-5 in 19 career starts (21 games) with a 2.29 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP against the Astros and is 6-1 in 9 starts (11 games) with a 2.66 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP at Minute Maid Park.
Roy Oswalt will make his second start of the season against the Cubs tonight. He lost at Wrigley on July 14th and gave up 9 runs, 8 earned, on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings with 6 strikeouts and 2 walks. But like the entire Astros team, he is much better at home.
Oswalt is 7-1 with a 2.30 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP at Minute Maid compared to a 4-5 record with a 5.52 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP on the road. He has not lost a game at home since April 27th against the Brewers.
Oswalt has given up 2 runs, 1 earned, in his last 2 starts (13 innings against the Padres and Marlins) on 7 hits with 15 strikeouts and 2 walks. He tied a season-high mark with 10 strikeouts of the Padres on July 28th. Oswalt will be looking to make a statement tonight, his loss to the Cubs was he worst outing of the season.
Oswalt is 10-10 in 22 career starts (23 games) against the Cubs with a 4.14 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP.
- Ronny Cedeno – 3-8, with a double
- Mark DeRosa – 7-14, with 3 doubles and a RBI
- Cliff Floyd – 8-21, with 2 doubles, 2 home runs and 7 RBI’s
- Derrek Lee – 11-41, with 3 doubles, 2 home runs and 6 RBI’s
- Jason Kendall – 15-36, with a triple and a RBI
- Aramis Ramirez – 15-54, with 3 doubles, 3 home runs and 14 RBI’s
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….