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Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Carlos Zambrano vs. Bronson Arroyo Lineups:
Soriano LF Hopper CF
Kendall C Keppinger SS
Lee 1B Votto 1B
Floyd RF Phillips 2B
Ramirez 3B Encarnacion 3B
DeRosa 2B Valentin C
Jones CF Coats LF
Theriot SS Ellison RF
Zambrano P Arroyo P
The hopes of all Cubdom rest on the broad shoulders of Zambrano, who has pitched well in three of his last four starts. The clinker in that bunch, unfortunately, was a 5-2 loss to the Reds, who have already beaten Carlos four times this season. Zambrano's strikeout numbers are down significantly in '07; he's had particular trouble missing Cincinnati bats (just 11 K in 28 2/3 IP). Importantly, though, Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey, and Josh Hamilton--combined 1.112 OPS against Zambrano this year--are all sitting this one out with injuries.
Compare and contrast:
You can just look in their dugout and it's just like panic mode. Guys are pacing up and down the dugout.

--Florida's Cody Ross, speaking of your Chicago Cubs

Randolph, who rarely says anything while walking through the clubhouse with reporters present, saw a cluster of reporters crowded around Wagner and said to no one in particular as he passed by, “We’re still going to win this thing, we’re still going to win it.”

--New York Times

Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Steve Trachsel vs. Scott Olsen Lineups:
Soriano LF Ramirez SS
Theriot SS Uggla 2B
Lee 1B Hermida RF
Ramirez 3B Cabrera 3B
DeRosa 2B Jacobs 1B
Soto C Linden LF
Monroe RF Olivo C
Jones CF De Aza CF
Trachsel P Olsen P
Paul Sullivan reports that following last night's loss, Steve Trachsel was shouting profanities at reporters from across the Cub locker room. It wasn't clear if something precipitated the behavior or if it's just an adorable quirk. Swearin' Steve is 1-2 in his second stint as a Cub, averaging about 4 1/3 IP, 7 hits and 4 runs allowed per outing. With all that's riding on today's result, no way Lou Piniella will let Trachsel anywhere near the fifth inning if he's struggling. Are the Cubs playing "tight"? After last night's game, Lou said he thought they were, and some of what we're seeing on the field--the constant chirping at umpires, the mental mistakes--would indicate the manager is right. Maybe last night's Brewer loss to the Cards will loosen everyone up. Also, I'm thinking that after losing every game they've played against this fifth-place team this year, the Cubs are at some point bound to have a victory land in their laps. Chicago-area native Olsen (3 no-decisions, 3.94 ERA lifetime v. Cubs) gave up eight unearned runs in his last start, against the Mets. That's a new Florida franchise record. I bet his family in Crystal Lake is proud.
...to Tony LaRussa and the team formerly known as the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals, for all the untoward things the writers and readers of this site have ever written, implied, or even thought about you. (All those Red Schoendienst jokes were WAY out of line.) We couldn’t have reduced our magic number to 3 tonight without you. In fact, if we drop a few more turds like this one, we might not be able to reduce it any more without additional third-party help. Anyway, thanks for the helping hand. (And getting Yost tossed? Nice touch.)
Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Jason Marquis vs. Daniel Barone Lineups:
Soriano LF Ramirez SS
Theriot SS Uggla 2B
Lee 1B Hermida RF
Floyd RF Cabrera 3B
Ramirez 3B Jacobs 1B
DeRosa 2B Linden LF
Jones CF Treanor C
Kendall C De Aza CF
Marquis P Barone P
Young Barone makes his first-ever start against the Cubs, hoping to capture his first-ever win as a Major League starting pitcher. Barone has appeared in 15 games this season, five as a starter. In those five, he's pitched to an 8.31 ERA, given up 9 home runs in 21 2/3 IP, and walked more men (11) than he has struck out (10). Sounds like the kind of guy who gives us trouble. The Marlins' Jeremy Hermida, whose second-inning double was a key moment in Tuesday night's Florida win, is hitting .335 since the All-Star break. He went 2-for-3 with a home run against Marquis when the Marlins beat the Cubs on May 29th at Wrigley. This will be Marquis's final regular season start unless the Cubs and Brewers need to meet in that Game 163 playoff, in which case I will be dead from stress and disappointment so I won't see it anyhow, therefore I'm counting tonight as Marquis's final regular season start no matter what. Nasty outing last time for Jason going up against the Pirates and the Wrigley Field jetstream, in which Marquis gave up seven runs in just 2 2/3 innings. Let the magic number reduction begin. Please.
Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Ted Lilly vs. Dontrelle Willis Lineups:
Soriano LF Ramirez SS
DeRosa 2B Uggla 2B
Lee 1B Hermida RF
Ramirez 3B Cabrera 3B
Murton RF Jacobs 1B
Soto C Olivo C
Monroe CF Linden LF
Theriot SS Carroll CF
Lilly P Willis P
Just 16 days short of four years ago, the Cubs hooked up with Willis in Miami, Aramis Ramirez clubbed a first-inning grand slam, and every Cub fan on the planet was scrambling to figure out who he would have to bribe, suck up to, or kill in order to get himself a World Series ticket. Now only Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano and Kerry Wood remain from that star-crossed Cub team, and the sights will be set a little lower for the moment, with the focus on getting the Cubs one step closer to locking up the NL Central. Willis was a winner in his only start against the Cubs back in May. Lilly lost to the Marlins in the finale of that same miserable series, a three-game Florida sweep in Wrigley that left the home team 22-29, six games behind the first-place Brewers, and looking almost completely hopeless. At cubs.com, Carrie Muskat points out that the 9-4 Cub loss on 5/29 was so bad, it prompted a players-only meeting before the game on 5/30...which the Cubs then went out and lost 9-0 behind Lilly. I'm glad it's now and not then. Among the current Cubs, Alfonso Soriano has had the most luck against the Florida lefty (8-for-17 with a home run). Overall, the Cubs have won 10 of 12; the Marlins have lost 7 of 8.
Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Paul Maholm vs. Jason Marquis Lineups:
Morgan CF Soriano LF
McLouth LF DeRosa 2B
Sanchez 2B Lee 1B
LaRoche 1B Ramirez 3B
Nady RF Murton RF
Bautista 3B Soto C
Paulino C Monroe CF
Izturis SS Theriot SS
Maholm P Marquis P
Welcome, everyone, to Jeff Bennett Day at The Cub Reporter! In their 2007 annual, the Baseball Prospectus gang describes Pirates starter Paul Maholm as "a pitch-to-contact, ground-ball lefty." Sounds like Cub Kryptonite to me. The fact is, however, despite having lost to Maholm twice already this season, the Cubs have hit him hard--8 earned runs in 14 1/3 innings, including homers by Ramirez, Pagan, and a catcher who is now dead to us in a losing cause back on May 10th.
Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Tom Shearn vs. Ted Lilly Lineups:
N. Hopper CF A. Soriano LF
J. Keppinger SS R. Theriot SS
K. Griffey RF D. Lee 1B
B. Phillips 2B C. Floyd RF
A. Dunn LF A. Ramirez 3B
E. Encarnacion 3B M. DeRosa 2B
J. Votto 1B J. Jones CF
D. Ross C G. Soto C
T. Shearn P T. Lilly P
Time for the Cubbies to take a big bite out of that .00027 winning-percentage-point lead the Brewers have built in the National League Central. Lilly takes the mound on three days' rest following a well-pitched ND against the Cardinals. The lefty is 1-1 against the Reds this season, but in 18 IP, Lilly has allowed a mere 11 hits, striking out 24 and walking just 4. As for the Reds starter... When Rick Ankiel was implicated in baseball's ongoing HGH mess and went from being MLB's Feel-Good Story of 2007 to just another suspect, 30-year-old righthander Tom Shearn shot to the top of the Feel-Good list. In case you haven't heard them, the facts are these:
Game Chat : BR Preview : Game Notes Aaron Harang vs. Carlos Zambrano Lineups:
N. Hopper CF A. Soriano LF
J. Keppinger SS R. Theriot SS
K. Griffey RF D. Lee 1B
B. Phillips 2B A. Ramirez 3B
A. Dunn LF M. Murton RF
E. Encarnacion 3B M. DeRosa 2B
J. Votto 1B J. Jones CF
J. Valentin C J. Kendall C
A. Harang P C. Zambrano P
These two staff aces hooked up in Wrigley about five weeks ago. The Cubs hit Harang relatively hard, scoring five runs in seven innings. The Reds hit Zambrano harder: 13 hits (11 singles!) and six runs, also in seven innings. The two bullpens were unscored upon and the Reds won the game 6-5. (This was also the game in which Zambrano, remarkably, failed to strike out a single hitter.) Tonight's game marks the first phase of the Cubs' Great Three-Day Rest Experiment involving Zambrano and Wednesday night's starter, Ted Lilly. As previously mentioned on this page, Zambrano has never started a Major League game on just three days' rest. That being the case, last night probably wasn't the ideal night for our bullpen to pitch 4 1/3 innings, though our big guns--Marmol, Howry and Dempster--got the evening off. Perhaps Z can give the entire relief crew a bit of a break tonight.
Like many fans watching last night’s game, I imagine, I wondered why the Reds didn’t intentionally walk Mark DeRosa in the bottom of the ninth, thus creating a possible force at home and avoiding DeRosa, who had nine consecutive hits against the Reds. Here is Cincinnati manager Pete Mackanin’s answer, as reported by Toni Ginnetti in Tuesday’s Sun-Times:
''I don't like to load the bases because it puts pressure on the pitcher to make a perfect pitch all the time,'' (Mackanin) said.
How about the manager's decision to bring Norris Hopper in from center field as a fifth infielder—was that a smart ploy?

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