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This afternoon at Wrigley, when Rich Harden goes up against former teammate Jason Marquis, Geo Soto will make his first start since last Tuesday in Houston, and while Lou Piniella says Aramis Ramirez's back is getting better, he adds "one more day [of rest] won't do any harm."

As for Milton Bradley, Paul Sullivan reports:

Bradley is still projected back by the weekend,
though Piniella said Bradley told him he's feeling better, "though he
still feels (the groin strain) somewhat."

On the anniversary of Jackie Robinson's Major League debut 62 years ago, Bradley is also the subject of a long piece by Gordon Wittenmyer about the sad history of race-baiting by Cubs fans.

Notes following a successful home opener and heading into a well-deserved off day for the 5-2 Cubs:

-- It was just last September 15th, the day after Carlos Zambrano no-hit the Astros at Miller Park, when Ted Lilly held Houston hitless until the seventh inning before Mark Loretta stroked a clean, line-drive single tp recprd the Astros' only hit of the night.

That evening, Lilly, Jeff Samardzija (remember him?), Carlos Marmol, and Bobby Howry combined for the one-hit victory.

In this afternoon's home opener against the Rockies, Lilly was followed to the mound by Angel Guzman (1/3 IP), Aaron Heilman (1 IP), and Kevin Gregg (1 IP). It's the fourth time in Cub history that at least four pitchers have pooled their efforts to throw a one-hitter.

-- This afternoon's patchwork lineup, necessitated by Milton Bradley's sore groin, Aramis Ramirez's achy back, and Geovany Soto's bum shoulder, accepted nine walks by Colorado pitchers. That's 19 BBs in the last two games and five runs scored on bases-loaded walks.

Of course, scoring on a bases-loaded walk is no way to strike terror into the hearts of the rest of the National League, but on a day as cold and hitter-unfriendly as today was, it's not a bad way to go.

Update: First pitch now set for 2pm.


Update: Well, tomorrow's forecast is no bargain either--50% chance of precipitation--which is consistent with the latest from Paul Sullivan that the Cubs are determined to get today's game in. Sullivan also quotes Bob Brenly, who said on WSCR this morning that it seemed like an obvious move to slide Aramis Ramirez into the third spot and drop Derrek Lee (2-for-25) down into the fifth spot. Obviously not an issue today with Ramirez and Milton Bradley both out of the starting lineup.


Update: Yes, this would not only be Fontenot's first-ever start at 3B, it would be the first time he has ever played the position in the majors. From what I can tell, he played some third in '05 at Iowa, but other than that, it has been all shortstop and second base.


Gordon Witternmyer tweets that, according to Lou Piniella, Milton Bradley is feeling better, but Aramis Ramirez has a sore back and is not in the starting lineup:

Soriano, lf
Theriot, ss
Fukudome, rf
Lee, 1b
Fontenot, 3b
Johnson, cf
Miles, 2b
Hill, c
Lilly, p

Highlights, lowlights and other observations from the Cubs' 8-5 win over the Brewers Sunday night in Milwaukee, a victory that leaves the Cubs at 4-2 as they return home for the Wrigley Field opener on Monday afternoon.

"We've Seen This Movie Before" Moment of the Night:

In his first at-bat since beating the Brewers with a dramatic, ninth-inning home run on Saturday, Alfonso Soriano crushed Jeff Suppan's first pitch of the game over the centerfield wall, his fourth HR in the young season.

Play of the Night:
Reed Johnson's leaping catch to rob Prince Fielder of what would have been a game-tying grand slam in the bottom of the fifth. Instead Fielder wound up with a sac fly and a reason to tip his helmet to Reed Johnson.

All I'm going to say about this victory is, Alfonso Soriano reminded us why it's worth having a left fielder who can't actually field, Kosuke Fukudome continues his drive to be christened "Mr. April," and Carlos Marmol, who is officially NOT the Cubs closer, made our opponents' best hitters look helpless in a way that the guy who is our closer never, ever could.

 

Cubs (2-1; 1st in NL Central) vs. Brewers (1-2; 4th in NL Central) at Miller Park

Head-to-head Record
First meeting in 2009. Cubs won 9 of 16 games between the teams in 2008.

Pitching matchups
Friday, 3:05pm
Rich Harden (0-0) vs. Braden Looper (0-0)

Saturday, 6:05pm
Carlos Zambrano (1-0, 1.50) vs. David Bush (0-0, 18.00)

Sunday, 7:05pm
Ryan Dempster (0-0, 3.00) vs. Jeff Suppan (0-1, 13.50)

From coverage of this afternoon's Cubs/Brewers game, Milwaukee's home opener, in Friday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Truth be told, the Brewers and many of their fans would probably prefer a team other than the Cubs coming to town for the opening series of the season.
That's because the home opener is normally a sellout, whether it's the Washington Nationals or the Pittsburgh Pirates. Plus, Brewers fans would rather see their home park filled with Brewers fans, not Cubs fans...

The question...is how many Cubs fans found a way to get a ticket to the game. At times, Miller Park has been known as Wrigley North when the two teams meet in a series.

[Rick Schlesinger, executive vice president of business operations for the Brewers] said that for the three-game Cubs series, 9% of the tickets sold by the team came from people with Illinois ZIP codes.

StubHub, which is Major League Baseball's official secondary ticket provider, reported Thursday that buyers from 32 states had bought tickets to Friday's game. Seventy-five percent of them came from Wisconsin, 17% came from Illinois, and 1% each came from Iowa, Indiana and Michigan, among others.

I'll be looking for you 17% on the broadcast. Be loud. Be proud. And please let the vehicle you urinate next to in the parking lot after the game be your own.

 

Update: Paul Sullivan reports in the Tribune that Soto underwent an MRI today and has "minor inflammation in the biceps area." He will not be going on the DL.

Soto is likely to sit out the Friday and Saturday games in Milwaukee and "possibly all three depending on how he feels this weekend." Aaron Miles will be the designated emergency catcher behind Koyie Hill while Soto recovers.


Geovany Soto is supposedly in Chicago today so Cubs team orthopedist Stephen Gryzlo can take a look at that sore shoulder. If the defending NL ROY lands on the Disabled List, the logical move would be to summon 33-year-old Mark Johnson from Iowa. The lefthanded-hitting Johnson, who was originally drafted by the White Sox back in '94, went 4-for-19 at Mesa this spring.

Over parts of eight Major League seasons with the Sox, A's, Brewers, and
Cardinals, Johnson has compiled a hitting line of .218/.314/.318.
In other words, in the temporary catching tandem of Koyie Hill and Mark
Johnson, the big bat would be...nobody.

He is, however, said to "call a good game," the catching equivalent of being a blind date with a winning personality.
Let's keep a good thought re: Soto's check-up.

If you've been on the Web for even a few minutes today, you already know about the car crash that took the lives of Angels pitcher, Nick Adenhart, and two other people. The whole tragic story is here.

 

W - Ted Lilly (1-0)
L - Brian Moehler (0-1)

Box Score

In the spirit of Passover, we begin tonight's recap by asking, why is this night different from all other nights?

The answer:

Tonight the Cubs sent nine men to the plate in each of the first two innings, building a lead so large, it allowed Ted Lilly to throw his own personal game of Home Run Derby and still win his first game of the season.

Details after the jump.

Update--more on Soto...

From Wittenmyer's game story in the Sun-Times:

Soto, who said he felt ''discomfort'' on an awkward throw to second...is to be re-examined [Wednesday]. Manager Lou Piniella
suggested a possible return during the next series, which opens Friday
in Milwaukee. It wasn't considered serious enough to schedule an MRI.

Soto...downplayed the
injury. He said he has had similar discomfort before, as recently as
this spring.

 

W - Doug Brocail (1-0)
L - Neil Cotts (0-1)

Box score

In the early innings of Tuesday night's game, Pat Hughes and Ron Santo discussed the fact that the Cubs have not started a season 2-0 since Pat and Ron began working together in the WGN radio booth in 1996. Naturally, this had the effect of jinxing the team and thus, the outcome was inevitable.

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