Game Forty-Eight: Cubs (28-19) vs. Pirates (22-25)
Game Time – 6:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh
Carlos Zambrano (6-1, 2.45/1.20) vs. Zach Duke (2-2, 4.23/1.59)
The Cubs return to action tonight in search of their first win since Monday. Lou Piniella’s crew lost the last two in Houston and will try to avoid their first 3-game losing streak of the season. The Cubs must figure out how to win games on the road. At home they are looking, and playing, like an entirely different team. The Cubs are 19-8 and have made Wrigley a home field advantage. On the road this season, is a different story. The Cubs are 2 games under .500 at 9-11 and have won only one series on the road this year….in Pittsburgh on their first series of the year away from Wrigley (April 7, April 9-10)
Tonight will be a rematch of last Saturday’s contest at the Friendly Confines. Carlos Zambrano will hopefully keep his bat intact, retire a bunch of Pirates, throw a lot of innings….and most importantly, beat Zach Duke. Carlos Zambrano is coming off his worst start of the season last Saturday against the Pirates. The Cubs offense gave him an early lead. Then Big Z struck out, broke his bat over his knee…. and then lost it on the mound. Zambrano could not make it out of the 5th inning and gave up 5 runs, 4 earned, on 7 hits in 4+ with 3 walks and 3 strikeouts. It was Zambrano’s shortest start of the year….but it could end up benefiting his team tonight.
Reports surfaced early in the week that Zambrano had stiffness in his right shoulder, both Zambrano and Lou Piniella denied there was a problem….and Zambrano said he would prove it on Friday night. If Zambrano can control his emotions, it could be a special night….but most importantly his team could pick up a much-needed win.
Zambrano has not been as sharp against the Pirates over the past year and a half as he should have been. Zambrano is 9-6 in 21 career games, 19 starts, against the Pirates with a 4.01 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP.
While the Cubs have struggled on the road this season, Zambrano has pitched better on the road than at Wrigley. Big Z is 2-1 in his first 3 road starts with a 2.14 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP with victories against the Nationals and Reds. Zambrano is 5-1 in 10 career starts, 11 games, at PNC with a 3.90 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP….his only loss came last season in the final game of the first half.
- Jose Bautista – 1-for-13 with a double
- Jason Bay – 12-for-36 with 4 doubles. 5 home runs and 8 walks
- Adam LaRoche – 5-for-22 with a double
- Nate McLouth – 4-for-13 with a double
- Xavier Nady – 8-for-22 with 5 doubles
- Ronny Paulino – 1-for-16
- Freddy Sanchez – 6-for-29 with a double
The Cubs will get their second look in a week at Zach Duke….and this is not necessarily a good thing. Zach Duke is back and he is making the Cubs look bad at the plate. Tonight will already be the fourth time the Cubs have faced Duke this season….0-1 in 3 games with a 5.19 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP. The Cubs offense has walked only 4 times in 17 1/3 innings and have hit a robust .338 against Duke….but they have only scored 10 runs.
While the numbers look good, take away one bad start on April 20th at Wrigley (5 runs on 8 hits in 4 innings), Duke has held the Cubs to 5 runs on 13 1/3 innings on 16 hits….a 3.38 ERA. Duke is 4-3 in 11 career starts against the Cubs with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP.
Duke is 2-1 in his first 4 starts at PNC this season with a 3.42 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP.
With such a large sample size….here is how the Cubs have hit Duke this season.
- Ronny Cedeno – 1-for-5
- Mark DeRosa – 4-for-9 with a double
- Kosuke Fukudome – 1-for-6
- Reed Johnson – 4-for-8 with a double
- Derrek Lee – 1-for-9
- Aramis Ramirez – 2-for-8 with 2 doubles
- Alfonso Soriano – 5-for-7 with a home run
- Geovany Soto – 2-for-6 with a double
- Ryan Theriot – 4-for-6 with 2 doubles
The Cubs must make Zach Duke work tonight. If they swing at a lot of first pitches, they will play right into the hands of the talented southpaw….especially when runners are on base.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….