Game One Hundred Thirty-One: Cubs (67-63) vs. Brewers (65-66)
Game Time – 7:05pm C.T. Comcast SportsNet, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 184
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Carlos Zambrano (14-10, 3.95/1.33) vs. Ben Sheets (10-4, 3.39/1.16)
The Cubs will look to take the all-important second game of the series tonight behind their ace, Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano will match up for the second time this season against Ben Sheets, who will make his first start since July 14th. Zambrano beat Sheet back on April 7th in Milwaukee, but that was then and right now neither team is sure what they will get out of their ace. While Sheets will be making his first start in 6 weeks, Zambrano has not pitched the way he is capable, with the exception of 3 innings, since the end of July.
The Brewers announced on Tuesday night that rookie left-hander, Manny Para will make his third career start in the series finale. A solid night from the offense against the Brewers’ All-Star would be a good way to get into a rhythm, but it all starts with Carlos Zambrano. Carlos Zambrano has to step it up tonight, to say he has been bad this month would be an understatement. Zambrano started off the rain-shortened game against the Cardinals and was unhittable but his last start against the Giants was sub-par to say the least. Zambrano walked the bases loaded against the Giants, with the third walk given to the pitcher Matt Cain. Then 2 innings later, Zambrano gave up a 2-run home run to Matt Cain….not exactly the performance the Cubs were hoping for after opening the vault door less than a week prior.
Zambrano was lights out in June and July and was even named the best pitcher in the NL in July but he has been far from that of late. Zambrano is 0-3 in this last 4 starts with a 7.04 ERA with a 8.50 ERA in his last 3 starts. Zambrano must get back on track….and quickly.
Tonight will be Zambrano’s 4th start of the season against the Brewers. He won his first game of the season in Milwaukee on April 7th (3 runs on 5 hits in 7 innings) and received a no-decision 2 weeks later a Wrigley (2 runs on 5 hits in 5 1/3 innings). On June 6th, the first game after his season started, Zambrano beat the Brewers and gave up 2 runs on 5 hits in 6 2/3 innings while setting a season-high in strikeouts (at the time) with 9. Zambrano is 2-0 in 3 starts against the Brewers this season with a 3.32 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP.
Ben Sheets has been on the DL since Mid-July with torn tissue around the tendon in his middle finger. The Brewers thought he would return last week against the Giants but Sheets has been having blister problems and that delayed his return.
Sheets left the game on July 14th against the Rockies in the 4th inning and was placed on the DL the next day with a distal sprain of his right middle finger. Before that, he had been dominating. Sheets was 5-0 with a 2.16 ERA in 6 starts in June that included a great performance against the Cubs at Wrigley on June 30th. Sheets gave up 4 runs on 6 hits in 8 innings with a walk and a season-high, 11 strikeouts.
Sheets is 8-7 in 21 career starts against the Cubs with a 3.97 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. In 3 starts this season, Sheets is 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP.
The Brewers are looking for a big outing from Sheets, at least 5 to 6 innings. If the overly aggressive Cubs can be patient at the plate, Ned Yost will be forced to use his pen earlier than he would like.
Welcome to Zambrano vs. Sheets – Round 2…. If both are on, this should be an extremely well-pitched game.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….