Game One Hundred Forty-Seven: Cubs (75-71) vs. Cardinals (69-75)
Game Time – 7:10pm C.T. Comcast SportsNet, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Busch Stadium, St. Louis
Carlos Zambrano (15-12, 4.26/1.36) vs. Adam Wainwright (13-10, 3.75/1.43)
Updated – 5:42pm C.T. – According to a report on ESPN 1000, Angel Guzman had Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2008 season…..will update if more information becomes available.
The Cubs open a big weekend series tonight against their biggest rival, the defending World Champions. Lou Piniella’s crew will play 4 games over the next 3 days in St. Louis. While the Cubs are 4-3 in their last 7, the Cardinals are coming home after dropping their last 7 games in a row, the first time since May of 1972 the Cardinals finished a road trip with a 0-7 record.
Lou Piniella and Tony LaRussa adjusted their rotations for the series. Carlos Zambrano and Adam Wainwright will both pitch on an extra day of rest. The Cardinals enter play tonight 5 games behind the division leading Cubs and will be looking to make a statement after a horrible road trip. The Cubs need their ace to step up tonight and give them a quality start but the offense must continue to put runs on the board, especially those all-important tack on runs that Piniella has preached about all season. The Cubs could make a big statement this weekend with a series win in the last 4 of the season against the Cardinals, as well as making it a two-team race over the final two weeks.
Carlos Zambrano is coming off a win and a solid outing against the Pirates last Saturday night. Zambrano held those pesky Pirates to 1 run on 2 hits in 6+ innings of work. Zambrano is still throwing a lot of pitches per inning and continues to give up free passes at an alarming rate. Zambrano has walked 5 batters in each of his last 2 starts and is averaging almost 1 an inning (10 walks in 10 1/3 innings) in his last 2 games. The walks are causing Zambrano’s pitch count to elevate and with him scheduled to pitch on 3 days rest in his next start, he must be effective and efficient tonight. Zambrano must throw strikes, find a rhythm and not beat himself.
The last time Zambrano faced the Cardinals was in the rain at Wrigley two days after he signed his new contract. Zambrano threw 3 perfect innings before the game was cancelled. Big Z is 2-0 against the Cardinals this year with a 1.98 ERA….3 earned runs on 12 hits in 13 1/3 innings with 7 strikeouts and 3 walks.
Adam Wainwright has been Tony LaRussa’s best starter this season. He was 2-1 in 5 starts in August with a 2.00 ERA. The last time Wainwright gave up more than 3 earned runs was on July 25th against the Cubs (6 runs on 9 hits in 5 innings). Wainwright is 1-1 in his last 2 starts with a 2.31 ERA. Wainwright had more than a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio in August (32 strikeouts and 10 walks) but in his last 11 2/3 innings, he has walked more batters (5) than he has struck out (4).
Wainwright will make his 4th start of the season against the Cubs. He is 0-2 in his first 3 with an 11.66 ERA (19 runs on 28 hits in 14 2/3 innings with 16 strikeouts and 7 walks).
Throw all the records and stats out the window when these two teams match-up. This weekend should be a battle from the first pitch to the last. The Cardinals will be looking to remain in the race while the Cubs will be looking to extend their lead in the central.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….