Game One – Opening Day: Cubs (0-0) vs. Astros (0-0)
Game Time – 6:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet, ESPN 2 – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 175
Location – Minute Maid Park, Houston
Carlos Zambrano (0-0, -.–/-.–) vs. Roy Oswalt (0-0, -.–/-.–)
The wait and long Spring Training is over…It’s Opening Day and Chicago Cubs Baseball is on the Air! Carlos Zambrano will take the mound tonight for his fifth consecutive Opening Day. Zambrano’s struggles in the first game of the year have been well documented. He was very good against the Brewers at Wrigley last year…and this is a new season and hopefully a ‘Brand New Z‘.
The Astros have looked forward to this match-up since last September and will be out to prove a point. Houston was the only team in the Central with a winning record against the Cubs a year ago (Cubs won eight of 17 match-ups) and of all the questions Houston may have going into the season, the offense is not one of them…especially with the biggest Cub Killer of them all, Carlos Lee, right in the middle of Cecil Cooper’s lineup. According to a report from Bruce Miles, the Cubs first lineup of 2009 will be:
- Alfonso Soriano – LF
- Kosuke Fukudome – CF
- Derrek Lee – 1B
- Milton Bradley – RF
- Aramis Ramirez – 3B
- Mike Fontenot – 2B
- Geovany Soto – C
- Ryan Theriot – SS
- Carlos Zambrano – P
For the record, the Cubs are 0-2 on Opening Day under Lou Piniella.
The last time Carlos Zambrano faced the Houston Astros was in Milwaukee last September. Zambrano’s No-Hitter was the Cubs’ first since Milt Pappas in 1972.
The Cubs will need Big Z to improve on his 14-6 record from a year ago. He posted a 3.91 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP but was horribly inconsistent in the second half (4-3 in 12 starts with a 5.80 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP). Zambrano must control his emotions and use them as a positive, instead of the negative way that as marred his career.
Zambrano is 12-7 lifetime in 26 games, 24 starts, against the Astros with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP…at Minute Maid Park, 6-3 in 13 games, 11 starts, with a 3.58 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP.
- Lance Berkman – 9-for-63 with 4 home runs and 14 walks
- Geoff Blum – 5-for-27 with a double and 2 walks
- Darin Erstad – 2-for-14
- Jeff Keppinger – 5-for-25 with a double
- Carlos Lee – 17-for-46 with 5 doubles, 4 home runs and 5 walks
- Kaz Matsui – 1-for-8 with 3 walks
- Hunter Pence – 4-for-16 with 2 doubles
- Ivan Rodriguez – 3-for-7
- Miguel Tejada – 5-for-12 with a double and a home run
The Cubs will face one of the best pitchers in all of baseball Roy Oswalt. The Astros’ ace had a horrible first half last year (7-8 in 19 starts with a 4.56 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP) and many feel if he had pitched better the Astros would have made the playoffs.
The Astros surged in the second half and Oswalt led the turnaround (10-2 in 13 starts with a 2.24 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP). Oswalt was just about unhittable and for the Astros to be successful this season they will need their ace to be consistently dominant throughout the year.
Oswalt was 1-1 in 2 starts against the Cubs last season with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. For his career, 12-11 in 26 games, 25 starts, with a 3.88 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP.
- Milton Bradley – 3-for-6 with a home run and a walk
- Mike Fontenot – 2-for-8
- Kosuke Fukudome – 1-for-6
- Derrek Lee – 15-for-49 with 4 doubles, 3 home runs and 5 walks
- Aaron Miles – 3-for-17 with a double
- Aramis Ramirez – 15-for-60 with 3 doubles and 3 home runs
- Alfonso Soriano – 6-for-32 with 2 home runs
- Geovany Soto – 2-for-6 with a triple
- Ryan Theriot – 2-for-8 with a walk
- Carlos Zambrano – 1-for-12 with a home run
The Cubs will get their first look at an Astros’ team with Ivan Rodriguez behind the plate.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….