Game 48 Thread / Cubs @ Pirates (1 of 3)
|SP||Carlos Zambrano||SP||*Zach Duke|
|6-1, 2.45, 46 K, 19 BB, 66 IP||2-2, 4.23, 20 K, 19 BB, 55.1 IP|
|LF||Alfonso Soriano||2B||Freddy Sanchez|
|SS||Ryan Theriot||CF||*Nate McLouth|
|1B||Derrek Lee||LF||Jason Bay|
|3B||Aramis Ramirez||1B||*Adam LaRoche|
|C||Geovany Soto||RF||Xavier Nady|
|2B||Ronny Cedeño||3B||*Doug Mientkiewicz|
|RF||Mark DeRosa||C||Ronny Paulino|
|CF||Reed Johnson||SS||Chris Gomez|
|P||#Carlos Zambrano||P||*Zach Duke|
Yes, the Washington Generals host the Harlem Globetrotters yet again.
The Cubs enter the game with an 8-1 record and 69-38 run differential this season against the Pirates. The lone loss occurred last Saturday at Wrigley Field, when these same two pitchers hooked up, and Zambrano, who has been so stellar in the first couple months of the campaign, went completely mental. Neither pitcher figured in the final decision, a 7-6 Pittsburgh win.
Tonight, Fukudome gets the night off, DeRosa moves to right, and Cedeño, who has hit Duke well (8-for-21), gets a start and gets to hit in front of DeRosa, who can't seem to hit at all on the road this year (11-for-62, .172, 530 OPS).
Alfonso Soriano, who cooled off against the Astros (5 K's in 8 AB) following that torrid homestand, is 10-for-18 with 2 HR lifetime against Duke. On the flipside, the Pirates' Jason Bay is 12-for-36 with 5 HR lifetime against Zambrano.
This will be Zambrano's first start since reports emerged that he was dealing with a sore shoulder and that the Cubs medical staff was on high alert. Zambrano and Lou Piniella denied the reports flatly, uncategorically, and apparently with great gusto.
As they did last weekend, the Bucs will throw three lefties at the Cubs
in this series. Lou's crew is 10-5 this season against southpaws, 18-14
The Cubs enter this series with a one-game lead over the Cardinals in the NL Central and holding down the top spot in Baseball Prospectus's Hit List Power Rankings, where the team is sized up this way:
The Cubs' lead atop the NL Central tightens up as they drop a series to the Astros, but both PECOTA (BP's statistical projection system) and their run differential suggest there's little reason to panic.
The offense is cranking out 5.7 runs per game, tops in the majors, and
they're getting above-average production at every position except
center field, with five positions putting up a .400 OBP or above. Alfonso Soriano
isn't among that quintet, but his 21-for-44 performance, including
seven homers in six games, is a big reason for the team's recent 9-2