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The Return of Z: Cubs (24-29) @ Pirates (22-31)

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...

 

Cub-Fan Misery Loves Company

It's not that there is absolutely nothing positive to say about the Cubs right now. It's that the positives are so deep beneath so much raw sewage, I just don't have it in me to go baling through the muck to uncover them.

Instead, I have decided that the best way to get through this latest low spot in this awful season is to find a National League team even more woeful than our Cubs.

There are some solid candidates:

Game preview: Cubs (24-28) @ Pirates (21-31)

"I don't know, I don't know, I don't know, I really don't know. I'm going to be honest with you, I wish I had some answers."

When your manager brings insight like that to the ballpark, how can you question his methods?

As promised/threatened, Mr. Piniella has made a number of changes in his lineup tonight. Young Castro moves back up to the second spot, Nady gets a spot start in place of Derrek Lee, Colvin escapes for a night from Piniella Purgatory to spell the slumping Marlon Byrd in center, Baker gets back on the field for the first time since suffering that ocular migraine last week against the Dodgers, and Hill catches while Soto (.200/.333/.329 in May) sits.

Good Thing They Didn't Lift Niemi for John Grabow

In the spirit of honoring the Chicago Blackhawks, who are now just two games away from the Stanley Cup championship, and temporarily ignoring the black comedy that is the Chicago Cubs, here is a video that will warm the heart of every Hawks fan who remembers the joy of listening to the great Lloyd Pettit. (Pettit, of course, also worked alongside Jack Brickhouse in the Cubs broadcast booth for several years.)

Z will be in, Cashner will be up, plus Cardinals vs. Cubs

The long-awaited announcements have been announced:

Carlos Zambrano will make his return to the starting rotation on Wednesday in Pittsburgh and Tom Gorzelanny be moved from the rotation to the bullpen, where he will joined by a new teammate...

Andrew Casher, who will be summoned from Iowa on Monday, according to Carrie Muskat. Cashner has given up four hits and a run in two innings pitched since the I-Cubs moved him into the pen. Overall, his numbers at Triple-A this year have been stunning. 0.86 ERA and 17/2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 17 IP.

Saturday Game Thread: Cardinals (28-21) @ Cubs (23-26)

Another indescribably beautiful summer day in Chicago; not bad since we're still in May.

Rookie Adam Ottavino, a first-round draft pick back in '06, has been called up to make this start for the Cardinals in place of the injured Kyle Lohse. I don't actually know what the Cubs' recent record is against guys making their Major League debuts, but I feel like it's horrendous. (This game from earlier this year leaps to mind, though Leake has certainly performed well overall.)

Game Preview: Cardinals (27-21) @ Cubs (23-25)

UPDATE: Aramis Ramirez, who received a cortisone injection in his aching left hand yesterday, is back in the Cub lineup. Here's the batting order: Fukudome 9, Theriot 4, Lee 3, Ramirez 5, Soriano 7, Byrd 8, Soto 2, Castro 6, Wells 1


It's such a spectacular day in Chicago today, it's easy to imagine I live somewhere else.

As for this afternoon's matchup at Wrigley, if it seems late in the year for the Cardinals and Cubs to be meeting for the first time, that's because it is. Not since 1999 have the clubs gone this deep into the calendar without looking directly into each other's hate-filled eyes.

Our Cubs, winners of 8 of 11, seem to have dodged two injury bullets: Jeff Baker's problem yesterday, which included the loss of vision in his right eye, has been diagnosed as an ocular migraine. According to @CarrieMuskat this morning, he is now fine and is uniform. Also, Carlos Zambrano has fully recovered from whatever he had yesterday that seemed like it might be appendicitis but turned out not to be, and he is also ready to go. (BREAKING NEWS: Z's problem was "food-related." Do you really need to know any more?)

Ted Lilly's Cheatin' Foot

Watching some daytime MLB. Camera just zoomed in & didn't realize it caught a pitcher cheating. Don't ask me who/what. Tricks of the trade.

That was a tweet from @CJNitkowski at mid-afternoon Thursday, sent while the former Major Leaguer kicked back and watched sixth-inning action between the Dodgers and Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Bill Shaikin's story in the LA Times explains what caught the attention of Nitkowski and the Dodgers' Casey Blake, who had singled and was standing on first base.

Tags: 

Game preview: Dodgers (26-20) @ Cubs (22-25)

Going for two of three against the Dodgers and some semblance of momentum as the Cardinals come to town over the weekend.

Dodgers against Ted Lilly (1-4, 4.30):
Martin 2, Paul 9, Kemp 8, Blake 5, Loney 3, Johnson 7, DeWitt 4, Carroll 6, Ely 1 

Cubs against John Ely (3-1, 3.41):
Theriot 4, Castro 6, Lee 3, Byrd 8, Fukudome 9, Nady 7, Baker 5, Soto 2, Lilly 1

Get your power failure puns elsewhere; Cubs lose 8-5

Yeeechhh! That was nasty.

Wednesday night at Wrigley, the Cubs spotted the Dodgers a 5-0 lead, squandered opportunities to get the game close or even, then did get the game close, failed to get it closer, and lost.

Here's a professional summary of the 8-5 defeat, which was interrupted by an 18-minute power outage in the fourth inning.

Some quick thoughts...

— Tom Gorzelanny struggled with his command from the outset and all in all, pitched just poorly enough to provide some public relations cover to Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella in the next few days, when, I'm thinking, they will officially yank the lefty from the rotation in favor of Carlos Zambrano.

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  • Looking for Bryant to break up another no-no with a long fly ball in the sixth.

    But any hit will do.

    Eric S 1 min 1 sec ago view
  • this game is f'n flying by.

    also, "Hernandez (5-4, 3.45) versus Hendricks (9-7, 2.39), ruined by ESPN tomorrow at 7:08pmCST." gets 1000 upvotes and a gold star.

    crunch 12 min 38 sec ago view
  • His control is still off with a lot of overthrowing of his fastball. Mariners haven't been able to take advantage of it so far but it still doesn't seen like he's had a start this year where his mechanics have been great start to finish.

    johann 18 min 7 sec ago view
  • Why is that disconcerting, OB?

    Charlie 25 min 45 sec ago view
  • He was a big key to the crazy start, a big key to the end of last year, a big key in not beating the Mets (although lots of help from a tired inexperienced team there), so although the team as a whole can get through a series with a good Jake it will be tough with a bad Jake. I don't think it's realistic to have the insanely great Jake again, but maybe it is. Seeing today's box score it appears maybe it is - but I haven't been able to tune in yet.

    Old and Blue 39 min 14 sec ago view
  • IMO Jake is really the key to winning the World Series, but maybe I'm putting too much emphasis on one player.

    Rob Richardson 1 hour 10 min ago view
  • The reports that they offered EITHER Jimenez or Torres for Chapman are a little disconcerting. I hope 1) Those reports are wrong, and 2) if they are not wrong, that they will hold on to him, as the team could use the outfield depth. I have only seen him in the futures game, but he looks like a keeper.

    Old and Blue 1 hour 32 min ago view
  • Very nice. I saw him in Lansing in May. I'm still stunned that he hit a 400-foot foul ball onto Larch Street ... which is going the other way for a right-handed batter. It was perhaps the most amazing swing I've ever seen a minor league player take. I should also mention that it was about 40 degrees out at the time. Not that it's evidence of anything per se, but I feel his plate approach is way more advanced than Soler was at this stage in his development and that the comparisons aren't really fair to Jimenez. 50/50 chance I'll go to Midland tonight for the low-A debut of Oscar de la Cruz.

    John Beasley 3 hours 21 min ago view
  • Eloy Jimenez grand slam tonight. Hoping Soler power returns and gets hot but future looks bright in the outfield regardless.

    Finished the night 4-5, with two doubles - 32(!) on the season - along with the grand slam. Sick

    Eric S 4 hours 43 min ago view
  • Meanwhile, out West:

    SF is 2-11 since the break, lead over LA is down to one game, and they are running out Cain and Peavy this weekend against the Nats. Challenging times by the Bay.

    billybucks 5 hours 30 min ago view
  • Thanks for the updates Phil. Too bad about Frazier.

    Hagsag 9 hours 25 min ago view
  • The Cubs have released RHRP Scott Frazier (2013 7th round dfraft pick - Pepperdine).

    A Cubs pitching coach told me in Spring Training 2014 that he thought Frazier had the best pure stuff in the organization. Absolutely electric fastball & breaking ball combo. Other pitchers would gather behind the screen just to watch him throw "live" BP. That's how amazing he was. 

    Arizona Phil 14 hours 34 min ago view
  • Got a chance to see Diamondbacks RHSP Zack Greinke (15-day DL - strained oblique) throw a rehab start at Sloan Park Friday night. Four of the first seven AZL Cubs hitters singled and the Cubs did score an unearned run in the bottom of the 1st inning, but then Greinke got serious and struck out five in a row.

    ZACK GREINKE: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 5 K, 4/0 GO/AO, 49 pitches (34 strikes)

    Arizona Phil 14 hours 48 min ago view
  • Have fun - It may be good for Arrieta to be facing a team that doesn't know him as well as the NL teams. A nice shutout would do wonders for his confidence. He is confident in public but baseball is hard and he could use a boost, I'm sure.

    Old and Blue 19 hours 40 min ago view
  • Me too. I'll be at the game tomorrow and would love to see Good Arrieta.

    Brick 20 hours 4 min ago view
  • Last few games have been the April version of the Cubs that disappeared completely the past two months.
    Hope they can sustain it.

    blockhead25 20 hours 31 min ago view