Game Seventy-Two: Cubs (45-26) vs. Rays (41-29)
Game Time – 6:10pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN, ESPN – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 179
Location – Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg
Carlos Zambrano (8-2, 2.98/1.30) vs. Andy Sonnanstine (7-3, 4.89/1.39)
A win tonight would guarantee the Cubs at least a .500 record at the end of the very difficult road trip on Thursday. Carlos Zambrano will have the task of trying to shutdown the Rays tonight and give his offense a chance to hand him his first victory since June 2nd. The Cubs found out how tough it is to play at the Trop on Tuesday and hopefully they will have the same results for the next two games as they did in Toronto after dropping the first game.
Look for Lou Piniella to use a balanced lineup tonight against Andy Sonnanstine as righties hit (.315) just as good as lefties (.289) off the young right hander. Carlos Zambrano will not have to worry about hitting tonight…..just pitching and that could be either a good thing or a bad thing. After two rough starts against the Padres and his worst of the season, a loss to the Dodgers, Zambrano turned in a great outing against the Braves….and made just one mistake. Zambrano received a no decision as the Cubs won the game last Friday in the 11th when Reed Johnson took one for the team.
Zambrano needs a good start tonight, if nothing else, but for himself. After posting a 3-0 record in 6 starts in May with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP, Big Z is 1-1 in his last 3 starts with a robust 5.49 ERA and a 1.82 WHIP. Zambrano has gotten in the habit of walking a lot of batters again. In his first 6 starts, 32 strikeouts and 9 walks in 40 2/3 innings….in his last 9 starts, 34 strikeouts and 23 walks in 59 innings. Zambrano must throw strikes tonight and not give the young Rays any help.
Big Z will make his first career start against the team formerly known as the Devil Rays tonight. Zambrano is 4-2 in 6 starts away from Wrigley this season with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP.
- Cliff Floyd – 2-for-7
- Gabe Gross – 2-for-9 with a double and 5 walks
- Dioner Navarro – 0-for-3
Like the Rays, the Cubs will get their first look at Andy Sonnanstine. After posting a 6-10 record with a 5.85 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP in his first big league season, Sonnanstine is 7-3 this year in 14 starts with a 4.89 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP….but opponents are hitting a whopping .302 against him.
Sonnanstine throws strikes and gives up a lot of hits at home (59 in 45 2/3 innings) but does not walk that many (9 in 8 starts). The Cubs saw how good the Rays’ bullpen is last night and they must get to Sonnanstine early and keep tacking on.
- Reed Johnson – 0-for-5
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….