Game One – National League Division Series
Cubs (85-77) vs. Diamondbacks (90-72) – Best of Five
Game Time – 9:00pm C.T. TBS, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 174/184/188
Location – Chase Field, Phoenix
Carlos Zambrano (18-13, 3.95/1.33) vs. Brandon Webb (18-10, 3.01/1.19)
Welcome to baseball’s second season…. After 162 games, Lou Piniella’s crew opens the Best of Five, National League Division Series in the desert tonight against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks had the best record in the National League during the regular season and took 4-of-6 from the Cubs. The pitching match-ups will be a big key in this series. The Diamondbacks have not seen Carlos Zambrano since 2005 and the Cubs did not face Livan Hernandez this year. The D’Backs have not faced a Cubs lineup at full strength the year either. In the series at Wrigley at the end of July, Derrek Lee was serving his 5-game suspension. At the end of August when the two teams faced off at Chase Field, the Cubs were without Alfonso Soriano.
Two of the better pitchers in the league will face off in the opener, it is a battle of 18-game winners. Brandon Webb will give the Cubs’ offense all they can handle, but for the Cubs, it all starts with Carlos Zambrano….in the post-season. While the Cubs won the Central Division, some think by default, that was last weekend and they must get back down to business today. The starters looked good on Sunday in their tune-up against the Reds’ Homer Bailey, but Bailey is not the current NL Cy Young Award winner. The Cubs must relax tonight and take what Brandon Webb gives them. Webb will keep the ball down with his infamous sinker, so expect Lou Piniella to use the hit and run, early and often to keep out of the double play. The Cubs must take advantage of as many scoring opportunities as they can, the D’Backs have a great bullpen and a comeback will be difficult to manage against Bob Melvin’s relief corps.
Carlos Zambrano has pitched extremely well on the road this year. He is 12-4 away from Wrigley with a 3.06 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. Zambrano is coming off an impressive end to the season. He was 4-2 in 6 starts in September with a 3.44 ERA. However, Zambrano was 2-0 in his last 2 starts with a 0.00 ERA….13 innings of 9-hit, shutout ball.
Zambrano is 1-2 in 4 career starts against the D’Backs with a 4.88 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP. But, as mentioned, Zambrano has not faced the D’Backs since Opening Day 2005. Zambrano left in the 5th inning with 2 outs (remember the ejection and Glendon Rusch took over) and gave up 3 runs on 7 hits with 8 strikeouts and 4 walks. All 4 career starts Zambrano has against the D’Backs has come at Chase Field.
Brandon Webb finished 2nd in the NL in ERA and tied with Zambrano for 2nd in the league in wins. After a nearly perfect August (4-1 in 5 starts with a 1.83 ERA, only 8 earned runs in 39 1/3 innings) and a string of 5 starts (July 25th-August 17th) that he did not allow a run (3 complete game shutouts), Webb came back down to earth a little bit in September. Webb is 4-1 in his last 6 starts with a 3.89 ERA.
Webb is 4-1 in 7 career starts against the Cubs with a 2.53 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. One of Webb’s 10 losses this season came at the hand of the Cubs. Jason Marquis out pitched Webb at Wrigley on July 20th. Webb allowed 3 runs, 2 earned, on 5 hits in 7 innings with 4 strikeouts and 1 walk….his only career loss to the Cubs came this year.
Webb is 8-5 in 16 starts this year at Chase Field with a 3.17 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP.
The D’Backs are expected to start former Cub, Augie Ojeda at 2nd base.
The Cubs (expected) Game One Lineup:
- Alfonso Soriano – LF
- Ryan Theriot – SS
- Derrek Lee – 1B
- Cliff Floyd – RF
- Aramis Ramirez – 3B
- Mark DeRosa – 2B
- Jacque Jones – CF
- Geovany Soto – C
- Carlos Zambrano – P
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball in October….