Gameday Open Thread

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SP Johnny Cueto SP Rich Harden
8-11, 4.90, 136 K, 53 BB, 145 IP (NL) 2-1, 1.80, 49 K, 14 BB, 35 IP
LF *Chris Dickerson LF Alfonso Soriano
SS Jeff Keppinger SS Ryan Theriot
RF *Jay Bruce 1B Derrek Lee
2B Brandon Phillips 3B Aramis Ramirez
1B *Joey Votto CF *Jim Edmonds
3B Edwin Encarnacion C Geovany Soto
CF *Corey Patterson RF *Kosuke Fukudome
C *Paul Bako 2B Mark DeRosa 
P Johnny Cueto P *Rich Harden

 That sure seemed like the longest one day break from baseball for some reason. Back to the Friendly Confines, where the Cubs have already surpassed their 44-win total from last year with a 45-17 record. The Reds limp into town, depleted and desperate enough to start Corey Patterson. And in honor of Dusty's return, let's discuss the Cubs leading the majors in walks with 501 and on pace for 655 which would break the club mark of 650 set in 1970. Of course, those walks don't mean much if you're not driving them in. The Cubs compliment those walks with an NL leading .284 batting average and .834 OPS with runners in scoring position. That's base-clogging done right.

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SP Ryan Dempster SP Chris Volstad

13-5, 2.92, 139 K, 62 BB, 157.1 IP
4-2, 3.03, 26 K, 18 BB, 38.2 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano SS Hanley Ramirez
SS Ryan Theriot LF *Luis Gonzalez
1B Derrek Lee 3B Jorge Cantu
3B Aramis Ramirez 1B *Mike Jacobs
RF *Kosuke Fukudome 2B Dan Uggla
C Geovany Soto RF *Jeremy Hermida
2B *Mike Fontenot CF Cody Ross
CF Reed Johnson C *John Baker
P Ryan Dempster P Chris Volstad

 

The Cubs end the brief road trip with a chance to win yet another series and take the season matchup with the Fish, which currently stands at three victories each.

Ryan Dempster, who is profiled by Alan Schwarz in Sunday's New York Times, goes up against 21-year-old Chris Volstad, who pitched well in an ND when the Marlins were in Chicago.

Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee return to the starting lineup.

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SP *Sean Marshall SP Anibal Sanchez

2-2, 3.55, 33 K, 10 BB, 38 IP
1-2, 4.08, 14 K, 7 BB, 17.2 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano SS Hanley Ramirez
SS Ryan Theriot CF Cody Ross
CF *Jim Edmonds 3B Jorge Cantu
1B *Daryle Ward 1B *Mike Jacobs
2B *Mike Fontenot 2B Dan Uggla
RF *Kosuke Fukudome LF Josh Willingham
3B Mark DeRosa RF Jeremy Hermida
C Henry Blanco C Matt Treanor
P *Sean Marshall P Anibal Sanchez

Sean Marshall gets the start because of the doubleheader on Wednesday and he'll be on a limit of 80 pitches. If that doesn't get the Cubs to at least the 6th, expect to see Jason Marquis out there for an inning or two.
Lou, obviously bored with winning with his normal lineup, lets the scrubs try to extend the Cubs five game win streak and nine game road win streak.

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SP Carlos Zambrano SP Josh Johnson

12-5, 3.22, 101 K, 48 BB, 151 IP
3-0, 3.19, 28 K, 14 BB, 36.2 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano SS Hanley Ramirez
SS Ryan Theriot RF *Jeremy Hermida
1B Derrek Lee 3B Jorge Cantu
CF *Jim Edmonds 1B *Mike Jacobs
C Geovany Soto 2B Dan Uggla
3B Mark DeRosa LF Josh Willingham
2B *Mike Fontenot CF Cody Ross
RF Reed Johnson C *John Baker
P #Carlos Zambrano P *Josh Johnson 

The Cubs attempt to extend their 8-game road winning streak with Carlos Zambrano trying to recover from a 4-inning+ outing against the Cards last Saturday in which he seemed to be channeling Bob Howry, i.e., allowing a whole big bunch of hits (10), homers (4), and runs (9).

Josh Johnson makes his second start this season against the Cubs. He served up solo home run balls to Geovany Soto and Reed Johnson but little else, a in an ND start on July 25th at Wrigley. (That was the game the Marlins won on a ninth-inning homer by Jeremy Hermida against you-know-who.)

Speaking of that four-game series, which the teams split, that's also the last series the Cubs played and didn't win.

Friday's Game Notes highlight:

The Cubs' seventh and eighth place batters are hitting a combined .301 this season, which is best in MLB. In the series at Turner Field, the #7 and #8 guys went 11-for-25 (.440) with 9 RBI.

And to think—we've expended all that energy this year debating who should hit leadoff.

By the way, no matter what happens the rest of the way, I think the Cubs should definitely go after Michael Phelps as a free agent.

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SP *Ted Lilly SP *Tom Glavine

11-16, 4.26, 133 K, 52 BB, 148 IP
2-3, 4.85, 34 K, 33 BB, 59.1 IP
LF Alfonso Soriano SS Yunel Escobar
RF *Kosuke Fukudome 2B Martin Prado
1B Derrek Lee 3B #Chipper Jones
3B Aramis Ramirez LF Omar Infante
CF Reed Johnson 1B *Casey Kotchmann
C Geovany Soto RF Jeff Francoeur
2B Mark DeRosa CF *Mark Kotsay
SS Ryan Theriot C Clint Sammons
P *Ted Lilly P *Tom Glavine

The Cubs go for the sweep and hopefully gain some ground on the Brewers, who are losing 3-2 in the ninth in San Diego as I write this. The Cubs doubleheader sweep last night was their first since 2003 over the Pirates (I'm sure you remember the day) and first road sweep since 1992 over the Cardinals.

It'll be Lilly for the Cubs, the proud owner of a 2.53 ERA on the road this season. For the Braves, it's the return of Tom Glavine off the disabled list, his first start since facing the Cubs in early June.

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SP Rich Harden SP Jorge Campillo
(NL)
1-1, 2.10, 47 K, 9 BB, 30 IP
7-4, 2.83, 81 K, 21 BB, 114.1 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano CF *Gregor Blanco
SS Ryan Theriot SS Yunel Escobar
1B Derrek Lee 1B *Casey Kotchmann
3B Aramis Ramirez C #Brian McCann
CF *Jim Edmonds LF Omar Infante
2B Mark DeRosa 2B *Kelly Johnson
RF *Kosuke Fukudome 1B Martin Prado
C Henry Blanco RF Jeff Francoeur
P *Rich Harden P Jorge Campillo

 

Cubs go for the day/night sweep. Blanco gets the start behind home plate. Otherwise, it's the same group with Theriot moving up to the 2-hole and Fukudome moving down to seventh.

Lots of the same faces in the Braves' order as well. Slumping Jeff Francoeur gets a start and the chance to see what it's like to slump out of the eighth spot.

Harden is starting the nightcap after telling Piniella he prefers to work at night.

Oh, my God—we traded for a vampire!

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SP Jason Marquis SP Charlie Morton

7-7, 4.73, 67 K, 47 BB, 123.2 IP
3-5, 5.70, 32 K, 22 BB, 53.2 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano RF *Gregor Blanco
RF *Kosuke Fukudome SS Yunel Escobar
1B Derrek Lee 3B #Chipper Jones
3B Aramis Ramirez C #Brian McCann
CF *Jim Edmonds 1B *Casey Kotchmann
2B Mark DeRosa LF Omar Infante
C Geovany Soto CF *Mark Kotsay
SS  Ryan Theriot 2B *Kelly Johnson
P *Jason Marquis P Charlie Morton

 

UPDATED UPDATE: Marquis will start the first game in today's day/night doubleheader with our man Harden going in the nightcap. Otherwise the lineup remains unchanged from last evening.

UPDATE: Nevermind, the game has been called.

The Cubs try to stay North of the standings as they head South to play the Braves and Marlins on a six game road trip. Fresh off a 6-3 homestand, where they managed to lose a game and a half in the standings, the Cubs will look for their sixth straight road win tonight. 

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SP Chris Carpenter SP Ryan Dempster
  0-0, 1.00, 4 K, 2 BB, 9 IP   12-5, 2.93, 133 K, 59 BB, 150.2 IP
       
CF *Skip Schumaker LF Alfonso Soriano
LF Joe Mather RF *Kosuke Fukudome
1B Albert Pujols 1B Derrek Lee
RF Ryan Ludwick 3B Aramis Ramirez
3B Troy Glaus CF *Jim Edmonds
C Yadier Molina 2B Mark DeRosa
2B
*Adam Kennedy C Geovany Soto
P Chris Carpenter SS Ronny Cedeno
SS #Cesar Izturis P Ryan Dempster


Amazing game, this baseball.

Just two days ago, we were aglow over the possibility that this weekend set could end with the Cardinals nine games behind the Cubs and all but out of the NL Central race. Then on Saturday the league's highest-scoring road team bludgeoned the Cubs' nominal pitching ace and suddenly, St. Louis has a chance to win this series and close to within five games of first place with the Brewers once again also breathing down the Cubs' necks.

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SP Todd Wellemeyer SP Carlos Zambrano

8-4, 4.01, 87 K, 41 BB, 128 IP

12-4. 2.76, 98 K, 47 BB, 146.2 IP
       
CF *Skip Shumaker LF Alfonso Soriano
2B *Adam Kennedy SS Ryan Theriot
1B Albert Pujols 1B Derrek Lee
RF Ryan Ludwick 3B Aramis Ramirez
LF #Felipe Lopez CF *Jim Edmonds
3B Troy Glaus 2B Mark DeRosa
C
Yadier Molina RF *Kosuke Fukudome
P Todd Wellemeyer C Geovany Soto
SS #Aaron Miles P #Carlos Zambrano

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SP Braden Looper SP *Ted Lilly

10-9, 4.29, 65 K, 32 BB, 134.1 IP

11-6. 4.35, 129 K, 50 BB, 140.2 IP
       
LF #Vince Coleman LF Alfonso Soriano
CF #Willie McGee SS Ryan Theriot
2B #Tommy Herr 1B Derrek Lee
1B Jack Clark 3B Aramis Ramirez
RF *Andy Van Slyke RF *Kosuke Fukudome
3B #Terry Pendleton C Geovany Soto
C
Mike Heath CF *Jim Edmonds
SS #Ozzie Smith 2B Mark DeRosa
P *John Tudor P *Ted Lilly

UPDATE: Screw LaRussa, I have to get back to work. Let's see how he does with Mike Heath in the lineup from 1986.


(I'm posting this without a Cardinals batting order. Based on what Bernie Miklasz is reporting here, Tony LaRussa is waiting to see if Rick Ankiel and his strained abdominal muscle are ready to go before he posts the lineup.)

At around 8:45 this morning, I saw a middle-aged couple walking hand-in-hand in downtown Chicago, wearing matching St. Louis Cardinals t-shirts. This reminded me of two things: first, that the Cards were in town to play the Cubs, and second, that middle-aged couples should never wear matching t-shirts.

As for baseball, all of the analysis of the Cards' unexpected success this season has overlooked the obvious—Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan are witches.

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SP Brandon Backe SP Jason Marquis

6-10, 4.72, 100 K, 56 BB, 129.2 IP

6-7. 4.68, 64 K, 45 BB, 117.1 IP
       
2B #Kaz Matsui LF Alfonso Soriano
RF Hunter Pence SS Ryan Theriot
1B #Lance Berkman 1B Derrek Lee
LF Carlos Lee 3B Aramis Ramirez
SS #Geoff Blum CF *Jim Edmonds
3B Ty Wigginton 2B Mark DeRosa
CF *Darin Erstad RF *Kosuke Fukudome
C Humberto Quintero C Geovany Soto
P Brandon Backe P *Jason Marquis

 

What a surprise!

I returned Tuesday night from a wonderful vacation on the East Coast, and based on the news mix I got from the all-sports radio station in Boston, I assumed all of MLB had gone on hiatus while the Red Sox negotiated their divorce arrangements with Manny Ramirez.

Turns out the Cubs had, in fact, stayed busy, eviscerating the Brewers and taking two-of-three from the Bayless Bucs while building a 5-game lead in the Central. This afternoon they try to even up their season mark against Houston—currently they're 5-6—while capturing yet another series win. In 18 series so far this year at Wrigley, the Cubs are 14-3-1.

Jason Marquis, winless in his last six starts (0-4, 5.25), goes for the home team. Brandon Backe, the losingest pitcher on Cecil Cooper's staff, has an ND and loss against the Cubs this season.

Hey, I see the Cubs are stumping for permission to play some of their home night games on Fridays and Saturdays. Why not? Then Erin Andrews could cover the games in a cocktail dress.

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SP Rich Harden SP *Wandy Rodriguez

1-1, 1.11, 39 K, 8 BB, 24.1 IP

6-4, 3.61, 83 K, 27 BB, 92.1 IP
LF Alfonso Soriano 2B #Kaz Matsui
SS Ryan Theriot SS Miguel Tejada
1B Derrek Lee RF Hunter Pence
3B Aramis Ramirez LF Carlos Lee
CF Reed Johnson 1B #Geoff Blum
2B Mark DeRosa 3B Ty Wigginton
RF *Kosuke Fukudome CF *Darin Erstad
C Henry Blanco C Humberto Quintero
P *Rich Harden P *Wandy Rodrguez

Apparently the new trend for the Cubs is to get shut out the first game of a series. I can't say I approve. The amazing Rich Harden goes for the Cubs who saw his strikeout rate go down after striking out nine in seven innings in his last outing. He'll oppose Wandy Rodriguez, the Astros ace, who seems to have figured out how to pitch on the road this season - a 4.03 road ERA vs 3.31 home ERA. This compared to his 2007 split of a 6.37 road ERA vs a 2.94 home ERA.

The weather looks a little nicer today and I do hope all of our Chicago readers are safe and sound after yesterday's storm. Sure, the clear skies means there will be baseball, but it also means we won't see a repeat of Elvis sliding on the tarp. Suspiciously, the Astros' "Fat Elvis" - Lance Berkman - is out of the lineup today.

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SP Ryan Dempster SP Brian Moehler

12-4, 2.90, 126 K, 58 BB, 145.2 IP

6-4, 4.23, 50 K, 26 BB, 93.2 IP
LF Alfonso Soriano 2B #Kaz Matsui
2B *Mike Fontenot SS Miguel Tejada
1B *Daryle Ward 1B #Lance Berkman
3B Aramis Ramirez LF Carlos Lee
CF *Jim Edmonds RF Hunter Pence
C Geovany Soto 3B Ty Wigginton
RF *Kosuke Fukudome CF *Darin Erstad
SS Ronny Cedeno C Humberto Quintero
P Ryan Dempster P Brian Moehler

No time for love today, Dr. Jones, but if you see Geovany Soto visit the mound, know that he is just mocking you...the television viewer.

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SP Carlos Zambrano SP Ian Snell

12-4, 2.80, 96 K, 46 BB, 141.2 IP

4-8, 6.04, 90 K, 62 BB, 110.1 IP
       
LF Alfonso Soriano 2B Luis Rivas
SS Ryan Theriot 1B *Doug Mientkiewicz
1B Derrek Lee CF *Nate McLouth
3B Aramis Ramirez C #Ryan Doumit
RF *Kosuke Fukudome 3B Andy LaRoche
2B Mark DeRosa LF *Brandon Moss
CF *Jim Edmonds RF Stephen Pearce
C Geovany Soto SS Jack Wilson
P #Carlos Zambrano P Ian Snell

The Cubs go for the series win and Zambrano goes for lucky win number 13. A win today and the Cubs go 14-3-1 at series in Wrigley and their current 40-15 mark at home is their best start at Wrigley since 1916...which is when Wrigley opened. Some more fun with game notes...

  • Cubs center fielders have combined for  a league-leading .368 OBP and the Reed/Edmonds combo at center field has combined to hit .304 with 15 home runs and 65 RBI's.
  • The Cubs haven't committed an error in 7 straight games.
  • When the Cubs win, they've averaged 7.1 runs per game, when they lose: 2.6.

 

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SP *Ted Lilly SP *Paul Maholm

10-6, 4.49, 124 K, 47 BB, 134.1 IP
7-6, 3.79, 96 K, 36 BB, 140 IP




LF Alfonso Soriano 2B Luis Rivas
SS Ryan Theriot SS Jack Wilson
1B Derrek Lee CF *Nate McLouth
3B Aramis Ramirez C #Ryan Doumit
CF Reed Johnson 3B Andy LaRoche
RF Mark DeRosa RF Stephen Pearce
C Geovany Soto LF *Brandon Moss
2B Ronny Cedeno 1B Chris Gomez
P *Ted Lilly P *Paul Maholm

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