Game One Hundred Twenty-Three: Cubs (63-59) vs. Cardinals (58-62)
Game Time – 7:05pm C.T. ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Carlos Zambrano (14-9, 3.86/1.31) vs. Kip Wells (6-13, 5.24/1.53)
Updated – 9:47pm C.T – After nearly a 1 hour and 50 minute rain delay, Sunday night’s game between the Cubs and Cardinals has been postponed. There has not been a make-up date scheduled. As mentioned below, the two teams have both August 27th and September 10th off.
“If weather permits” is the phrase that pays for the next two days in Chicago. The weatherman is calling for heavy-storms for the final two games of the Cubs-Cardinals series. This series is the last trip to Chicago for the Cardinals in 2007 and Major League Baseball will do everything possible to get these games in. If Sunday night’s game is postponed, a double-header on Monday is very unlikely considering the Cubs leave for the West Coast after the game to start a 6-game road trip against the Giants that concludes next Sunday in the desert against the Diamondbacks. The Cubs and Cardinals both have a scheduled day off on August 27th, the Cardinals would be coming from St. Louis before heading to Houston while the Cubs would be returning home to start a 3-game series against the Brewers. The last scheduled day off that both teams share this season is September 10th.
While the weather is a big concern, the Cubs must continue to take care of business, if they can, against the Cardinals tonight. They have won the first two games of the series with 7 runs on only 8 hits and it will not get any easier against Kip Wells, who they have struggled with in the past. The offense must get on track, especially early in case the game is called, but it all starts with the Cubs’ $90 million dollar man….Carlos Zambrano. Carlos Zambrano has no more excuses, he has his contract in hand….signed, sealed and announced, now he has to pitch like an ace and deliver on his preseason promise. Zambrano was lights out from June 6th – July 29th and even earned NL Pitcher of the Month honors for July. He helped his team turn around the season but that was then and this is now and his team needs him to return to form tonight….and put a win on the board. With a win, Zambrano would be come the first 15-game winner in National League.
Zambrano has struggled since his gem in Cincinnati on July 29th. He is 0-2 in his last 3 starts with a 7.13 ERA and was shelled by the Reds his last time out. Zambrano tied a career high and season high with 13 hits allowed while for the second time this season not recording a strikeout. There were questions early in the week that Zambrano was battling arm problems, but those were silenced by his new deal. But his line for his last 3 starts is more than concerning:
14 runs on 23 hits in 17 2/3 innings, 3 home runs, 12 walks and 11 strikeouts
If the Cubs are going to stay at the top of the division, they will need Carlos Zambrano to return to his mid-season form and lead the way.
Zambrano is 2-0 against the Cardinals this season with a 2.03 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. Tonight will be his 18th career start against the Cardinals, Big Z is 7-4 in 19 career games with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. Expect the return of Koyie Hill behind the plate tonight for Zambrano.
Kip Wells has been a different pitcher in the second half of the season. After posting a very disappointing 3-11 record in 19 games, 15 starts, with a 5.92 ERA in the first half, Wells is 3-2 in his last 7 starts with a 3.63 ERA with one of those loses being to the Cubs. Wells gave up 3 runs, 2 earned, to the Cubs back on July 24th in St. Louis on 8 hits in 6 2/3 innings but Carlos Zambrano was just a little bit better….then.
Wells is 2-0 in his last 3 starts with a 2.37 ERA (5 runs, 6 earned, on 16 hits in 19 innings with 13 strikeouts and 6 walks) but has struggled on the road this season until his last start in Milwaukee. Wells held the high-powered Brewers’ offense to 3 runs on 4 hits in 6 innings of work. For the season, Wells is 3-8 on the road with a 6.17 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP in 13 games, 12 starts.
Wells is 1-1 in 5 career starts at Wrigley with a 4.78 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP.
News, Notes and a Rumor
The Cubs have to make a roster move before Sunday’s game. Cliff Floyd has to come off the bereavement list. According to a report on Cubs.com, the team has to either reinstate Floyd or put him on the restricted list.
According to a report in the Newark Star Ledger on Sunday morning, the Cubs are “considering bringing up Jeff Samardzija when rosters expand on September 1st.” The Shark is 3-0 in 3 starts with Double-A Tennessee. He has allowed 7 runs, 6 earned, on 16 hits in 17 1/3 innings with 12 strikeouts and 5 walks (3.12 ERA with an opponents batting average of .242). For the season, Samardzija is 6-8 with a 4.69 ERA in 27 games, 23 starts, for Daytona and Tennessee.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….if weather permits