Game One Hundred-Seven: Cubs (57-49) vs. Rockies (59-49)
Game Time – 8:10pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Coors Field, Denver
Carlos Zambrano (7-4, 3.35/1.35) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (8-9, 3.76/1.25)
Updated 8:09pm C.T. – Carlos Zambrano scratched from start with lower back stiffness. Sean Marshall will begin the game.
Updated – 6:17pm C.T. – Geovany Soto Activated from 15-day DL – Micah Hoffpauir Optioned to Iowa
Lou Piniella’s crew will return to the field tonight in Denver with the first of four against the Colorado Rockies, the wrap around series concludes on Monday night. The Cubs enter play tonight in a virtual tie atop the Central Division with the Cardinals … while the Rockies are battling for the National League Wild Card. With the Dodgers six games ahead in the West of the second place Giants it appears the Rockies (seven back at the start of play tonight) will be fighting it out for the NL Wild Card. The Rockies are just a game back of the Giants in the wild card race while the Cubs are a game behind Colorado … and two back of the Giants for the final playoff spot in the Senior Circuit.
The Rockies are a much different team than the one that faced the Cubs in the first two games of the season at Wrigley Field. The Rockies let go of Clint Hurdle and are 41-20 under Jim Tracy … on a side note, Jim Tracy was the last Cubs’ player to wear number 23 before Ryne Sandberg. Tracy played for the Cubs in 1980 and 1981.
The Rockies have become one of the better teams in the NL since replacing Hurdle with Tracy. They are 20-8 at Coors Field since May 29 (27-21 on the year) and have won 14 straight against teams from the Central Division … the Cubs have beaten the Rockies in 12 of their last 16 meetings with three of the Rockies’ four wins coming at Coors Field.
In Cubs News … Geovany Soto is expected to be activated before tonight’s game. Soto has been on the DL since July 11 with a mild left oblique strain and has not played in a big league game since July 6. Soto performed well in three games with the Tennessee Smokies earlier in the week. Koyie Hill will get a breathier tonight for the first time in 26 games.
The Cubs will have to make a roster move prior to tonight’s game and many feel Sam Fuld will be sent down to Iowa to make room for Soto. The Cubs should send out Micah Hoffpauir and let him get his swing back before September … stay tuned.
Also, the Cubs released Jason Waddell on Wednesday for violating team rules. Details have not been released.
Ryan Theriot should be back in the starting lineup up after basically receiving three days off … and has Piniella put it, a “mini All-Star break.” Also, Lou Piniella must find a place to play Jake Fox tonight against Ubaldo Jimenez. Milton Bradley has two walks in two career at bats against Jimenez while Alfonso Soriano is 1-for-6. Fox gives the Cubs a threat in the middle of the lineup they need right now … and he can hold his own in the outfield.
While the offense must do their job against Ubaldo Jimenez, it all begins with Carlos Zambrano … and one win at a time. According to several reports Carlos Zambrano is fine after leaving his last start in the third inning with a stiff back. The Cubs must get a long, effective outing out of their number one starter tonight … and begin the long weekend with a win over a very good Rockies’ team.
Big Z struggled with his command in his last start. He gave up two runs, one earned, on three hits in three innings with three walks and two strikeouts.
Leading up to his last start against the Marlins, Zambrano had been very good this year … despite posting just seven wins on the season.
Zambrano is 5-2 in 11 road starts this year with a 3.17 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP … in July he was 3-1 in six starts with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.35.
As mentioned in the game preview before his last start, someone must hide the calendar from Carlos Zambrano to make sure he does not realize it is August (1-1 in five starts in August of 2008 with a 7.43 ERA and a 1.73 WHIP … 0-4 in five starts in August of 2007 with a 7.06 ERA and a 1.88 WHIP). Zambrano did not start the new month on a positive note with leaving after three innings against the Fish.
Tonight will be Zambrano’s first start against the Rockies this season. Big Z is 2-4 in eight career starts against Colorado with a 3.13 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. Zambrano has never posted a win at Coors Field in three career starts (0-2 with a 4.12 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP).
- Garrett Atkins – 2-for-8 with 2 walks
- Clint Barmes – 1-for-3 with a walk
- Brad Hawpe – 1-for-11 with a walk
- Todd Helton – 3-for-19 with 5 walks
- Chris Iannetta – 0-for-3
- Jason Marquis – 3-for-4 with 2 doubles
- Yorvit Torrealba – 3-for-10 with a double and a walk
- Troy Tulowitzki – 0-for-5
Ubaldo Jimenez has been very good since June 12 after a rough start to the year. Jimenez was an atrocious 1-3 in four starts in April with a 7.58 ERA and a 2.11 WHIP while opponents hit .303. In May he lowered his ERA to 2.88 when he began throwing strikes (1.13 WHIP) and stayed very consistent in June. In five starts in July, Jimenez was 1-2 in five starts with a 4.18 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP … however, since June 12 he has given up four or more earned runs three times and only once since July 4.
Jimenez is coming off a win against the Reds in Cincinnati. He allowed two earned runs on five hits in eight innings with eight strikeouts and no walks.
The Rockies’ young right hander made his debut against the Cubs in the final day of the 2006 season and has struggled against the Cubs ever since. He is 0-3 in four career starts versus the Cubs with a 7.27 ERA and a 2.08 WHIP. The Cubs beat him at Wrigley back on April 13, in the home opener. The Cubs offense scored three runs on four hits in 3 2/3 innings with six walks and five strikeouts.
Jimenez is 4-4 in nine games at Coors Field this season with a 3.99 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP.
- Milton Bradley – no official at bat – 2 walks
- Mike Fontenot – 1-for-3 with a triple and a walk
- Kosuke Fukudome – 0-for-4 with 2 walks
- Koyie Hill – 1-for-1 with a walk
- Micah Hoffpauir – 1-for-3
- Derrek Lee – 1-for-3 with a double and a walk
- Aaron Miles – 3-for-7
- Aramis Ramirez – 3-for-5 with a home run and a walk
- Alfonso Soriano – 1-for-6
- Geovany Soto – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Ryan Theriot – 3-for-10 with a walk
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….