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GAME TEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (6-3, 1st) AT PITTSBURGH PIRATES (3-9, 6th, -4.5) PNC PARK, 6:05 CDT Weather: Clear, 72 degrees, wind out to center 15 mph TV: WGN Radio: WGN, XM 186 -->
Zach Duke, LHP 0-1, 6.55, 11 IP 6 K, 5 BB, 3 HRJerome Williams, RHP 0-0, 3.60, 5 IP 2 K, 5 BB, 1 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF Jerry Hairston, 2B Derrek Lee, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Michael Barrett, C #Angel Pagan, RF Matt Murton, LF Ronny Cedeno, SS Jerome Williams, PChris Duffy, CF Jack Wilson, SS Jason Bay, LF *Jeromy Burnitz, RF Craig Wilson, 1B Joe Randa, 3B Jose Castillo, 2B Humberto Cota, C *Zach Duke, P


After writing how the Pirates haven't been using Craig Wilson enough, we'll see him tonight in place of Sean Casey, who will be out 6-8 weeks with two fractures in his lower back after a collision with John Mabry last night. Yeowch. In other Pirate (and ex-Cub) injury news, Jody Gerut has been placed on the Restricted List after electing to have knee surgery against the wishes of the team. The Cubs made a roster move too, sending Michael Wuertz to AAA where he blongs and recalling the 100% valley-fever-free Roberto Novoa. Todd Walker gets four hits last night and sits tonight. Get used to it, Cubs fans. Jerome Williams makes his first start of the season tonight. As Kerry Wood, Wade Miller and Mark Prior inch closer to returning (Wood threw to hitters today and both Miller and Prior had 40-pitch sessions yesterday), Williams needs to establish himself if he hopes to stay in the rotation past May. Then again, he could always take Glendon Rusch's spot.
GAME NINE IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CHICAGO CUBS (5-3) AT PITTSBURGH PIRATES (3-8) PNC PARK, 6:05 CDT Weather: Overcast, 68 degrees, wind right to left @ 12mph TV: CSN+ Radio: WGN, XM 186
Victor Santos, RHP 1-1, 4.66 ERA, 9 2/3 IP 9 K, 4 BB, 0 HRSean Marshall, LHP 0-0, 8.31 ERA, 4 1/3 IP 2 K, 1 BB, 1 HR
*Juan Pierre, CF *Todd Walker, 2B Derrek Lee, 1B Aramis Ramirez, 3B Michael Barrett, C *John Mabry, RF Matt Murton, LF Ronny Cedeno, SS *Sean Marshall, P*Nate McLouth, CF Jack Wilson, SS *Sean Casey, 1B Jason Bay, LF Joe Randa, 3B *Jeromy Burnitz, RF Jose Castillo, 2B Humberto Cota, C Victor Santos, P

Cubs vs. Santos Michael Barrett: 2-19, 105/150/158, 1 BB, 2K Derrek Lee: 3-18, 167/286/500, 2 HR, 3 BB, 3 K Aramis Ramirez: 7-16, 438/438/938, 1 HR, 1 K

Aramis is back in the lineup, as is Todd Walker. Jacque Jones will apparently miss the entire series, allowing Dusty to use Mabry tonight and probably Angel Pagan tomorrow. Who knows, maybe Freddie Bynum will get a start on getaway day. I'd like to see Marshall last a little longer than he did in his first start. In his (short) outing, he wasn't too bad, and now he has a chance to build on his spring success and force Dusty's hand when Wood/Miller/Prior are ready to return. GO CUBS!!!
As the Cubs head to Pittsburgh to start their first road trip of the season, I thought I'd take a few minutes to tell you what you need to know about this NL Central rival. When their fans close their eyes at night, they see Sid Bream in their nightmares. My buddy Mark might want to avert his eyes for the next few paragraphs. In the early '90s, the Pirates were the class of the NL East. They won three staight division titles from 1990-1992 behind an exciting core of young players which included Bobby Bonilla, Andy Van Slyke, Doug Drabek, Jay Bell, John Smiley, and Barry Bonds, who won his first two MVP awards in 1990 and 1992.
Mike Kiley reports in the Sun-Times that Kerry Wood is scheduled to pitch a simulated game tomorrow at Fitch Park in Mesa, and probably another next Thursday. If all goes well, that would put Woody's first minor league rehab start on April 25th, keeping him on the same pitching schedule as the temp #5 starter. If he stays on that schedule (pitching the same days as the temp 5th starter), and depending on how many rehab starts he needs to make (probably at least two, those being the April 25th and April 30th Iowa Cubs home games in Des Moines), Wood could return to the Cubs starting rotation on Friday night May 5th at SD, or certainly no later than Wednesday night May 10th at SF (again, if all goes well and there are no setbacks). It is possible (but not real likely) that he could make just one rehab start (April 25th at Des Moines) and return to the Cubs rotation at Wrigley Field on Sunday April 30th versus MIL. There is no specific schedule suggested for the return of Mark Prior or Wade Miller at this point. As far as the current 3-4-5 starters are concerned, all three (Sean Marshall, Jerome Williams, and Glendon Rusch) are scheduled to pitch the three games this weekend in Pittsburgh. Pitching tonight, Marshall is the only one of the three who could start next Wednesday night in LA, but don't forget that Angel Guzman is "shadowing" Marshall at Iowa, pitching on the exact same schedule. So if Marshall gets blasted tonight, Guzman could be recalled to replace Marshall in the starting rotation as early as next Wednesday in LA. And between Williams and Rusch, whichever one pitches best this weekend will probably get the start next Friday night in STL, with the other skipped until a 5th starter is needed on April 25th. That 5th starter slot (needed permanently beginning on April 25th) is the one Kerry Wood would slip into, either on April 30th, May 5th, or May 10th (depending on how the rehab goes).
GAME EIGHT IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CINCINNATI REDS (5-3) AT CHICAGO CUBS (5-2) WRIGLEY FIELD, 1:20 CDT Weather: Cloudy, 74 degrees, Out to Center @ 18mph TV: WGN Radio: WGN, XM 186
Carlos Zambrano, RHP 0-0, 4.42 ERA, 10 2/3 IP 10 K, 9 BB, 2 HREric Milton, LHP 1-0, 2.57 ERA, 7 IP 3 K, 0 BB, 1 HR
Ryan Freel, CF #Felipe Lopez, SS *Adam Dunn, LF Rich Aurilia, 3B *Scott Hatteberg, 1B Austin Kearns, RF Brandon Phillips, 2B Dave Ross, C * Eric Milton, P*Juan Pierre, CF Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B Derrek Lee, 1B Matt Murton, LF #Angel Pagan, RF Ronny Cedeno, SS #Neifi Perez, 3B Henry Blanco, C # Carlos Zambrano, P

Reds vs. Zambrano Adam Dunn: 6-25, 240/355/600, 3 HR, 5 BB, 8 K Austin Kearns: 3-16, 188/381/313, 4 BB, 5 KCubs vs. Milton Aramis Ramirez: 9-24, 375/375/833, 3 HR, 4 K Neifi Perez: 3-20, 150/190/300, 1 HR, 1 K Derrek Lee: 4-17, 235/222/765, 3 HR, 2 K Michael Barrett: 6-16, 375/444/813, 1 HR, 2 BB, 1 K

Big Z goes to the mound for the third time this season and tries to win the Cubs their 2nd series of the year. I understand Barrett can't catch every game and I kind of expected Blanco to be Z's personal catcher for most of the year. It seemed that Z was a little annoyed by Barrett in some comments I heard, plus the whole Venezuelan brothership thing going. But Barrett's been smoking hot and without Ramirez in the lineup (should be back tomorrow), you'd think it would be a good idea to bend the rules for a game. Of course with Homer Happy Milton on the mound and some gusty winds hopefully Blanco can lift a couple into the jet stream. GO CUBS!!!
GAME 7 REVIEW
CUBS 4 REDS 1
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart | Photos
W: Greg Maddux (2-0) L: Brandon Claussen (0-1) SV: Ryan Dempster (2)
A game loss by the Reds more than won by the Cubs, but take them anyway you can. The Reds committed an abysmal 5 errors, a few of them caused by the speed of Juan Pierre. He bunted for a hit to leadoff the bottom half of the first and 2 batters later attempted a steal of third which Javier Valentin air-mailed over the 3rd basemen's head for the Cubs first run. Lee was also stealing on the play and advanced to third on the throw, scoring on a Barrett sac fly. Pierre reached again when his speed forced Tony Womack to rush a throw to 1st. although the error was apparently given to 1B Scott Hatterberg. A little bit more of the Reds defensive foolishness followed and the Cubs scored their third run of the day on a Barrett grounder to third that Encarnacion muffed. On the type of day you dread when Maddux is on the mound (wind blowing out 18 mph+ to right), Maddog proved an old dog can learn new tricks. He kept the Reds batters fooled all day, locating his pitches to perfection and even throwing a few pitches that barely topped 60 on the gun. The only blemish was a walk to Dunn and then a double to Edwin Encarnacion. The Cubs had Dunn at the plate, but a less than perfect throw by Cedeno short-hopped Barrett, who made little effort of his own to get the ball despite having plenty of time to get the lumbering Dunn, and the ball skipped away. Barrett more than made up for it with a 2 out single to score the Cubs final run, ending the day 1 for 3 from the plate with 3 RBI's (I believe currently tied for the NL lead with 13). The bullpen went back to being fantastic, 2 scoreless innings by Scott Eyre and a rather uneventful 9th for Dempster. Eyre got through the 7th inning on a mere 8 pitches, so Dusty rightfully put him out for the 8th. He got himself into a little trouble by giving up a single to Brandon Phillips and a walk to Ryan Freel (who replaced Ken Griffey in center after Griffey left with stiffness in one of his knees). This left Eyre with the dubious task of having to face Dunn as the tying run, but Eyre quickly dispatched Dunn on a groundout to 2nd. Not the prettiest of games, the Cubs caused some havoc on the bases with their speed but also ran into some outs. The defense was generally solid beyond the one run scoring play for the Reds, Ronny Cedeno and Angel Pagan both making nice plays in the 9th to secure the victory. The Cubs try to win the rubber match tomorrow with Big Z going against Homer Happy Milton. The Cubs have now won 5 games, Glendon Rusch has lost two.
GAME SEVEN IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CINCINNATI REDS (5-2) AT CHICAGO CUBS (4-2) WRIGLEY FIELD, 1:20 CDT Weather: Partly cloudy, 69 degrees, wind out to right @ 18mph TV: WGN, DIRECTV 734 Radio: WGN, XM 186
Greg Maddux, RHP 1-0, 1.42 ERA, 6 1/3 IP 1 K, 2 BB, 1 HRBrandon Claussen, LHP 0-0, 5.40 ERA, 5 IP 5 K, 0 BB, 1 HR
*Tony Womack, 2B #Felipe Lopez, SS *Ken Griffey Jr., CF *Adam Dunn, LF Edwin Encarnacion, 3B *Scott Hatteberg, 1B Austin Kearns, RF #Javier Valentin, C Brandon Claussen, P*Juan Pierre, CF Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B Derrek Lee, 1B Michael Barrett, C #Angel Pagan, RF Matt Murton, LF #Neifi Perez, 3B Ronny Cedeno, SS Greg Maddux, P
Reds vs. Maddux Tony Womack: 11-39, 282/293/308, 1 BB, 4 K Rich Aurilia: 8-39, 205/205/410, 2 HR, 5 K Adam Dunn: 4-26, 154/214/500, 3 HR, 2 BB, 6 K Austin Kearns: 7-22, 318/318/500, 1 HR, 6 K Ken Griffey Jr.: 9-20, 450/542/800, 2 HR, 3 BB, 6 K Ryan Freel: 5-18, 278/278/556, 1 HR, 2 K Javier Valentin: 6-10, 600/636/1800, 4 HR, 1 BB, 1 KCubs vs. Claussen Derrek Lee: 3-9, 333/455/1333, 3 HR, 2 BB, 2 K Aramis Ramirez: 4-9, 444/583/889, 1 HR, 3 BB, 1 K Todd Walker: 4-8, 500/500/1375, 2 HR
Let's hope the Cubs can put yesterday's shellacing behind them and paste a few against Claussen. This looks a little too much like a getaway day lineup to me, but with Ramirez and Jones both dinged up it's probably the best the Cubs could do.
Here is the roster status of Cubs major league and minor league players as of today:
GAME 6 REVIEW
REDS 9 CUBS 2
Recap | Box Score | Play-by-play | Game Chart
W: Bronson Arroyo (2-0) L: Glendon Rusch (0-2)
The first game of the year that I didn't get to watch and am glad I didn't. With a stiff 17 mph wind blowing out, the Reds blasted Glendon "Butterball" Rusch (so named for his portly status and quality of his pitches) to the tune of four solo homeruns in the first 5 innings although by the sound of it, none of them needed much help by Mother Nature. Home runs to Dunn and Griffey Jr. can be forgiven, but an 0-2 meatball to your nemesis Bronson Arroyo is pretty darn unforgivable. The formely spotless bullpen stepped in to start the 6th and Will Ohman immediately got greeted with 5 more runs without recording a single out, his ERA jumping to an obscene 27.00. Only a meaningless 2 out double by Derrek Lee in the 8th and Michael Barrett home run in the 9th kept the Cubs from being shut out. Although Rusch had a relatively rough spring and has looked less than adequate so far in his 2 starts, it should be remembered he's been up against arguably the NL's best offense and has pitched in less than ideal conditions (Great American Home Run Park and a 17mph wind blowing out today). The conditions for success loom just around the corner as he'll get the Pittsburgh Pirates for his next start in the lefty friendly PNC Park. If he cannot put together something resembling usefulness in his next start, and Jerome Williams does pitch adequately in his start on Saturday, don't be surprised by a switch in roles. The Cubs won't need a 5th starter again until April 25th which by all current accounts, Kerry Wood could very likely be ready by. On the injury front, Jacque Jones left the game with a tweak in his hammy. An MRI was performed but it appears that it's nothing to worry about. Unless you're worried about Jacque Jones getting more at-bats, as he's listed day-to-day. Conveniently for the Cubs it comes at a time when the Reds will throw out 2 straight lefties, plus the Pirates throw out another lefty this weekend. Aramis Ramirez apparently hurt a muscle in the gluteus maximus on a swing late in the game, haven't heard if he'll miss any time. There's a chance we'll see Angel Pagan (RF), Neifi Perez(3B) and Jerry Hairston(2B) in the lineup tomorrow. That could be a downright scary lineup tomorrow, scary in the sense that a $100 million team could put out a lineup that bad. Can't win them all I suppose, so far the Cubs have won 4 games, Glendon Rusch has lost two. Hopefully Greg Maddux can right the ship tomorrow.
GAME SIX IN-GAME DISCUSSION THREAD [PARACHAT] CINCINNATI REDS (4-2) AT CHICAGO CUBS (4-1) WRIGLEY FIELD, 1:20 CDT, TV, RADIO: CSN, XM 186
Glendon Rusch, LHP 0-1, 9.00 ERA, 2 BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 4.0 IP 2B Ryan Freel SS #Felipe Lopez CF *Ken Griffey Jr. 1B Rich Aurilia LF *Adam Dunn 3B Edwin Encarnacion RF Austin Kearns C Dave Ross P Bronson Arroyo Bronson Arroyo, RHP 1-0, 4.05 ERA, 0 BB, 7 K 2 HR, 6.2 IP CF *Juan Pierre 2B *Todd Walker 1B Derrek Lee 3B Aramis Ramirez C Michael Barrett RF *Jacque Jones LF Matt Murton SS Ronny Cedeno P *Glendon Rusch
Griffey: 5/23, 217/296/652, 3 HR, 3 BB, 7 K vs. Rusch Dunn: 8/23, 348/348/913, 4 HR, 7 K vs. Rusch The rematch we've all been waiting for, the chance to avenge our sole loss of the season. Glendon Rusch tries to bounce back from his disappointing opening outing while trying to keep the torrid bat of Bronson Arroyo in check. The Cubs will try to keep the ball rolling and look to extend their winning streak to 4 games today. The weather is a bit nicer than over the weekend, temperatures in the high 60's, hopefully it'll warm up Aramis' bat. And of course Derrek Lee can start earning his contract today with a nice 3 HR performance. As they say, GO CUBS!!!

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