Game One Hundred Eighteen: Cubs (60-57) vs. Reds (50-67)
Game Time – 7:05pm C.T. Comcast SportsNet, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 188
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Carlos Zambrano (14-8, 3.69/1.27) vs. Aaron Harang (11-3, 3.37/1.16)
Updated – 5:16pm C.T. with Roster Moves – The Cubs selected Carmen Pignatiello from Triple-A Iowa and transferred Henry Blanco to the 60-day DL. Jake Fox was recalled from Iowa and Sean Gallagher was optioned to Triple-A.
The Cubs open a 7-game homestand tonight against the Cincinnati Reds that concludes next Monday with the St. Louis Cardinals. This is a very important week for Lou Piniella’s crew. With the Cardinals starting a 3-game series in Milwaukee today and finishing their week on the North Side of Chicago, Tony LaRussa’s team feels this is the week they make a run at the two teams above them. The Cardinals enter play tonight 5 1/2 games back of the Brewers and 4 games back of the Cubs. While the Cubs are in the thick of the race, they have to start winning ballgames, especially against teams in their own division. The Cubs start a 26-game stretch tonight that includes 17 against teams in the central and of their remaining 44 games, all but 12 are against central division foes. The division is very winnable for the Cubs but they have to do their part first. While the offense must start scoring runs, it all starts with Carlos Zambrano. The Cubs need their ace to start his season over for the third time tonight. Carlos Zambrano is coming off one of his worst starts of the year and his first loss of the second half. After recently dominating the Astros, Roy Oswalt and company took it to him last Wednesday at Minute Maid. The Cubs’ ace allowed 7 runs on 8 hits in 5 2/3 innings and once again threw a lot of pitches, 113. Zambrano has to throw strikes tonight against a team he usually struggles against.
Zambrano had his best outing of the season the last time he faced the Reds in Cincinnati on July 29th. He shutout the Reds high-powered offense for 7 1/3 innings on just 2 hits with a big day at the plate as well. After a sub-par performance against the Mets on August 3rd when he walked 7, Zambrano needs a bounce-back outing tonight to become the first 15-game winner in the National League.
Zambrano is 1-2 in 3 starts against the Reds this season with a 6.06 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP. The Reds will be without David Ross and Ryan Freel. Freel’s season ended last week with knee surgery and Ross was placed on the 15-day DL with a concussion. Josh Hamilton is back from the DL and should make an appearance at Wrigley tonight.
The Cubs are expected to have Aramis Ramirez back in the starting lineup tonight and do not be surprised if Daryle Ward makes an appearance in right field. The Cubs’ offense needs all the help it can get right now, especially against Aaron Harang.
Harang lost to the Cubs in Cincinnati on July 28th after leaving the game in the 1st inning. However, he won his last start against the Dodgers in dominating fashion. Harang threw 8 innings of shutout ball and allowed just 4 hits and a walk while striking out 8. Harang has owned the Cubs in the past to the tune of a 6-2 record with a 4.42 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. This season Harang is 1-1 in 3 starts against the Cubs with a 5.25 ERA and a 1.75 WHIP.
- Mark DeRosa – 2-5, with a RBI
- Jacque Jones – 4-11, with a double and a RBI
- Jason Kendall – 4-15, with 2 doubles and a RBI
- Derrek Lee – 11-29, with 2 doubles, 3 home runs and 7 RBI’s
- Matt Murton – 4-13, with 2 home runs and 4 RBI’s
- Ryan Theriot – 3-5, with 2 RBI’s
- Carlos Zambrano – 2-6, with a double, a home run and a RBI
The Cubs face back-to-back rookie left handers they have never faced before in the final two games of this series, not a winning recipe for Lou Piniella’s crew….there is only one way to say tonight is a MUST win for the Cubs.
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