The Astros hate the Cubs. Everyone who is not a Cubs fan hates Carlos Zambrano. And the Houstons are opening the season at home with the best pitcher in team history on the mound. You'd think that would be enough to activate their adrenal glands. But of course, there's that other business left over from 2008:
The Cubs scored seven runs in the bottom of the 1st, and cruised to a 9-4 victory over the White Sox this afternoon at Ho Ho Kam Park in Mesa, in front of a Cactus League record crowd of 13,327, a game that I'm sure many of you watched on WGN-TV.
Alfonso Soriano ripped a two-out two-run single to cap a three-run 7th, and Carlos Zambrano threw six innings of one-run ball, leading he Cubs to a 5-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners in Cactus League action before 13,002 fans at Dwight Patterson Field at Ho Ho Kam Park this afternoon in hot & sunny Mesa, AZ.
As noted here and everywhere else yesterday, Lou Piniella has decided to give Carlos Zambrano the Opening Day assignment at Houston. It will be the fifth time Zambrano has had the honor; the Cubs have gone 2-2 in Z's previous Opening Day outings.
Fergie Jenkins started seven openers for the Cubs, while Rick Sutcliffe started five, and Rick Reuschel, four. The real fun in looking over this list at Baseball-Reference.com is noting which Cub pitchers got to go in Game #1 once, but never again. Here are the last ten such Cub pitchers:
Prepping for the first game of 2nd Round WBC play in San Diego on Sunday, Team Japan edged the Chicago Cubs 3-2 at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park on a cool & breezy Thursday afternoon in Mesa, AZ.
Chris Snyder stroked a three-run homer off the scoreboard to key a five-run 4th, and the Arizona Diamondbacks drubbed the Chicago Cubs 9-1 in record-setting heat at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park this afternoon in Mesa.
|SP||Chad Billingsley||SP||Carlos Zambrano|
|16-10, 3.14, 201 K, 80 BB, 200.2 IP||2008||14-6, 3.91, 130 K, 72 BB, 188.2 IP|
|0-0, 0.00, 3 K, 0 BB, 2 IP||Post||0-1, 4.37, 20 K, 6 BB, 22.2 IP|
|SS||#Rafael Furcal||LF||Alfonso Soriano|
|C||Russell Martin||SS||Ryan Theriot|
|LF||Manny Ramirez||1B||Derrek Lee|
|RF||*Andre Ethier||3B||Aramis Ramirez|
|1B||*James Loney||2B||Mark DeRosa|
|CF||Matt Kemp||CF||*Jim Edmonds|
|2B||*Blake DeWitt||C||Geovany Soto|
|3B||Casey Blake||RF||*Kosuke Fukudome|
|P||Chad Billingsley||P||#Carlos Zambrano|
It has taken a good 21 hours of self pity and a bracing White Sox defeat to clear my head and even let me think about previewing Game Two.
Yes, last night went down harsh, but from reading Rob's post and many of the ensuing comments earlier this afternoon, it is clear that there are still some optimistic souls in Cubdom. All I can say is, God bless you all.
Starters' Records Since 8/1/08
|| No-Hitters Thrown
Billingsley pitched twice against the Cubs this season. On both occasions, he matched up with Ryan Dempster. Once, Billingsley threw well (7 K, 2 ER in 6 IP); the other time, he threw not as well. The Cubs won both contests.
Among Cub hitters, only Jim Edmonds has more than 10 career plate appearances against the 23-year-old Billingsley, though Fukudome, Lee, and DeRosa have all tagged him for homers.
|SP||Angel Guzman||SP||*C.C. Sabathia|
|0-0, 7.04, 6 K, 4 BB, 7.2 IP||(NL)
||10-2, 1.78, 121 K, 24 BB, 121.2 IP|
|LF||Alfonso Soirano||CF||Mike Cameron|
|SS||Ryan Theriot||2B||#Ray Durham|
|1B||Derrek Lee||LF||Ryan Braun|
|3B||Aramis Ramirez||1B||*Prince Fielder|
|CF||Reed Johnson||SS||J.J. Hardy|
|RF||*Micah Hoffpauir||RF||Corey Hart|
|2B||Ronny Cedeno||3B||*Craig Counsell|
|C||Henry Blanco||C||Jason Kendall|
|P||Angel Guzman||P||*C.C. Sabathia|
First, Paul Sullivan writes that despite his recent travails (5.40 ERA in September), Jeff Samardzija has made the post-season roster and that Chad Gaudin will likely be a spectator.
As for today's game, Mark DeRosa (calf strain) was hoping to get in a few swings so he
didn't have to go into the playoffs cold. Alas, he is not in the starting
lineup. Geovany Soto (sore hand) is also sitting.
The Brewers begin play tied with the Mutts for the Wild Card, with a one-game tiebreaker tomorrow at Shea in the teams' futures if things don't get settled today. (As I post this, the Marlins and Mets are waiting out a rain delay at Shea.)
"It's not going to matter because, well, it is going to matter but it's not going to matter,"
Translated into English, it means that Lou Piniella decided that Carlos Zambrano would not pitch the first inning or two of today's regular season finale at Milwaukee and Angel Guzman will.
|SP||Carlos Zambrano||SP||*Oliver Perez|
|14-6, 3.77, 128 K, 68 BB, 184 IP||10-7, 4.10, 168 K, 97 BB, 184.1 IP|
|LF||Alfonso Soriano||SS||#Jose Reyes|
|SS||Ryan Theriot||LF||*Daniel Murphy|
|1B||Derrek Lee||3B||David Wright|
|3B||Aramis Ramirez||CF||#Carlos Beltran|
|RF||Mark DeRosa||1B||*Carlos Delgado|
|CF||Reed Johnson||RF||*Ryan Church|
|2B||Ronny Cedeno||C||*Brian Schneider|
|C||Henry Blanco||2B||#Argenis Reyes|
|P||#Carlos Zambrano||P||*Oliver Perez|
After a lifetime spent listening to ballgames on the radio, I have come to associate certain parks with a certain tone, a certain pitch in the crowd sound. Obviously, my ear is well attuned to the way that Wrigley Field crowds come across on-air. Same with Dodger Stadium, Fenway Park, and the Metrodome. (Loved hearing all those Twins fans Tuesday night!)
Shea Stadium is another one of those parks. Unlike what you hear over the radio from those other parks, however, the crowd sound that goes out over the airwaves from a raucous Shea isn't one of collective joy. It's much more coarse, much more dangerous, a wild, unruly roar—like the sound of inmates rooting on two guys aiming to shank each other in the middle of the yard.