Cubs Game Preview

"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.

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.

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?)

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

First things first:

Earlier this afternoon, the Cubs officially signed 36-year-old Bob Howry, demoted Justin Berg to Iowa, and designated David Patton for assignment.

Howry has been well analyzed here and elsewhere, but just in case you've missed it...

The now-ex-former-Cub appeared in 14 games for the Diamondbacks before his recent release, was scored upon in 8, and was cut loose by the D-Backs with an ERA of 10.67 and 6 home runs allowed in just 14 1/3 innings pitched. He was coming off a decent season last year in San Francisco, where he had a 3.39 ERA, a 2:1 K/BB ratio, and allowed fewer home runs in 63 IP (5) than he did in just a few weeks this season in Arizona. (Park effects at work, both ways, maybe?)

As for the game tonight...

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