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I watched the game intermittently last night, and one of my tune-ins happened in the top of the 7th. The Cubs were leading 3-1 but Pedro Alvarez had connected for a one-out single and then Ryan Doumit ripped a 3-1 pitch into the leftfield corner for a double that moved Alvarez to third. The visitors had the tying runs on base with just one out and roughly 100 pitches into the evening, Ted Lilly looked like he might be out of gas. Len Kasper surmised that this was probably the game's defining moment.

Then Ronny Cedeno stepped into the batter's box.

Before tonight's game against the Pirates, the Cubs announced that Carlos Zambrano will not be back with the club until after the All-Star break. He is going to be placed on the restricted list and will undergo treatment for "his anger issues," as Sullivan wrote in the Tribune.

Zambrano's "indefinite suspension" will end with the conclusion of tonight's game. When he's moved to the restricted list, the Cubs will be able to fill Zambrano's roster spot and Jeff Stevens is going to be recalled.

The Cubs lineup against lefty Paul Maholm—against whom the Cubs have a team OPS of 858 in 11 encounters—follows. 

Cubs  vs. Paul Maholm (4-6, 4.24; 6-1, 6.29 all-time vs. Cubs)
Theriot 4, Colvin 9, Byrd 8, Lee 3, Ramirez 5, Soriano 7, Soto 2, Castro 6, Wells 1

I can't seem to find the Pirates batting order anywhere. Maybe after losing 17 road games in a row, you give up on that lineup stuff altogether and just have the players draw lots as the game proceeds.

From Paul Sullivan in the Tribune:

After Carlos Zambrano returns to the Cubs following his suspension—the Cubs are trying to find out from MLB how long they can be suspend him and whether they'll have to play with 24 men for the duration—he'll be returning to the bullpen. Tom Gorzelanny is returning to the starting rotation.

Also, Lou Piniella and Assistant General Manager Randy Bush were none too pleased that Zambrano had dinner with Ozzie Guillen last night instead of reflecting on what an ass he was yesterday afternoon. I'm thinking that if Carlos was self-aware enough to reflect on his behavior, he might not have acted that way in the first place. Just a thought.

Cubs lineup vs. Freddy Garcia (8-3, 4.85; 4-0, 1.25 all-time vs. Cubs)
Fukudome 9, Byrd 8, Lee DH, Nady 3, Ramirez 5, Soriano 7, Castro 6, Soto 2, Theriot 4

White Sox lineup vs. Carlos Silva (8-2, 3.01; 4-11, 5.33 all-time vs. Sox)
Pierre 7, Vizquel 5, Rios 8, Konerko 3, Quentin 9, Kotsay DH, Ramirez 6, Castro 2, Beckham 4

Back on June 13th, after Ted Lilly nearly no-hit the White Sox at Wrigley Field, the Sox' record was 28-34, and the Cubs stood at 28-35. The White Sox haven't lost since, and the Cubs have continued to stumble. They're now eight games under .500 and the same number of games behind the division-leading Cardinals.

On this, his 32nd birthday, Aramis Ramirez returns to the lineup after a stint on the DL with that nagging thumb problem, and Chad Tracy has been DFA'd. Tracy hit .250 (11-for-44) in 28 games for the Cubs.

In the big news of the day...

In the time it took John Isner to beat Nicolas Mahut, the Cubs scored once, lost twice, fanned 17 times while walking three times, dropped nine games behind the NL Central-leading Cardinals, fell a season-worst nine games below .500, and went 1-for-16 with RISP. Oh, yeah—that one hit was a double by Alfonso Soriano which came with Geovany Soto on second base but only got Soto as far as third.

In preparation for the Cubs' three-game series beginning tonight in Seattle, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times interviewed former M's manager Lou Piniella over the weekend. The use of the word "weary" in the headline gives you a pretty good idea of the portrait which Stone paints. I thought this passage stood out.

I reminded Piniella of a quote he gave me back in 2007, when the Mariners played at Wrigley during his first season. Noting the difficulty of the Cubs' challenge, he said, "It ain't going to drive me crazy. I want to get it done, but it's not going to drive me crazy." That's still his story, and he's sticking to it. "Our organization hasn't won in a long time," Piniella said. "Because of that, there's a lot more scrutiny here. And because of it, it makes managing probably tougher than it should be."

Though it sounds like Jim Hendry truly couldn't care less, it's the first day of the Ari Kaplan Era at Wrigley Field. As for the game on the field, mlb.com reports that Randy Wells is looking at today's start against the A's as hitting the reset button on his thus far rocky season.

The irony, of course, is that Wells's employers might not be able to overlook the past quite as easily: since the beginning of May, the righty is 0-5, 6.47. His first-inning troubles have been especially ugly. In 13 Wells starts this year, opponents are hitting .357 against him in the opening inning and Wells's first-inning ERA is a Grabow-esque 11.25. (Stats from Baseball-Reference.com.)

The A's make their second-ever visit to Wrigley Field—the Cubs are the only National League never to have played in Oakland—having been swept this past weekend in San Francisco.

The weather forecast is not promising, with Weather.com saying there is a 100% chance of precipitation through the shank of the evening. Is there a rainout-forced doubleheader in these teams' immediate future? If there's anything better than interleague play, it's an interleague doubleheader made necessary by the screwy MLB schedule...which became infinitely screwier when MLB adopted interleague play.

Addendum: In cycling through Cub no-hit history, ESPN's Jon Miller mentioned that the Cubs have not been on the short end of a no-hitter since Sandy Koufax tossed a perfect game against the Cubs back in 1965. That was the game that saw Cub loser Bob Hendley allow the Dodgers just one hit. Joe Morgan intoned that he heard the ninth inning of that game on the radio as he and his Houston Astro teammates drove into the city from the L.A. airport; they were scheduled to play the Dodgers the next night. Morgan said he specifically remembered Koufax striking out Ernie Banks in the 9th to preserve the perfect game. Would it surprise you to know that Morgan was wrong? Nope. Didn't surprise me either.

 


 

The Cubs held on to beat the White Sox, 1-0, Sunday night at Wrigley Field. The game saw Ted Lilly and Gavin Floyd locked up in a double no-hit duel until Alfonso Soriano collected the game's first hit, a double inside the leftfield line with two out in the Cubs seventh. Chad Tracy then followed with a sharp ground-ball single that plated Soriano with the game's only run.

UPDATE: Wednesday night's game was rained out and will be made up this coming Monday at 11:35am, Chicago time. According to the Tribune's Paul Sullivan, Lou Piniella has yet to determine if Carlos Zambrano will start on Friday, when the Cubs open a three-game series in Houston.

 


From starter to set-up guy to long relief man to who-knows-what and finally, back to starter, Carlos Zambrano's strange season takes its next turn tonight at PNC Park. Zambrano will be making his first start since April 20th, when he threw 119 pitches and gave up two runs over six innings in a 4-0 loss to the Mets. Lou Piniella said he will limit Zambrano's workload tonight to 70 pitches or so. Can't help but wonder if that will get us through the second or third inning...

 

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