Monday, June 21, 2010

Series Preview: Cubs VS Seattle

Tomorrow night the Cubs will return to action to battle the Seattle Mariners in the first of a three game interleague set. The off day today came at a perfect time for the club to rest up after dropping six of the last seven series. On Sunday, the bats showed some signs of life in a 12-1 stomping of the L.A. Angels to avoid the weekend sweep at Wrigley.

Geovany Soto was the only Cub to homer yesterday launching his eighth dinger of the year. It was good to see Geo go deep, but it was also good to see the Cubs finding some other ways to score some runs. Carlos Zambrano helped his own cause with a run scoring single and got his first win at Wrigley since last July. Z went seven innings and allowed only one run to improve 3-5 overall on the year. Despite the fact that the game was already in the bag, Andrew Cashner and Carlos Marmol got their work in pitching the eighth and ninth respectively. Neither man surrendered a run. Derrek Lee drove in four runs and Marlon Byrd, who was hitting lead-off doubled twice.

The Seattle Mariners are not having a fun 2010 campaign either. They are just 28-41, which puts them in last of four teams in the AL West and 13 game behind first place Texas. The M's have played decent ball at Safeco Field where they hold an 18-17 mark.

The Mariners also have an off day today. They are in the midst of a four game winning streak including a sweep of the Reds this weekend to kick off their six game homestand. They are also in the middle of 15 straight games against NL opponents.

Seattle has several former Cubs on its roster, most notably controversial outfielder Milton Bradley. The Ex-Cubbie is hitting just .215 with 6 homers and 25 runs batted in. He will be swamped by his old pals from the Chicago media all series long. Luckily for him, Bradley does not have to go back to Wrigley to face the Cubs' faithful, which he has publicly ripped since departing from the North Side. Pitcher David Aardsma is also with the Mariners. Aardsma was a piece in the Cubs bullpen during the forgettable 2006 season before they shipped him to the White Sox in the Neal Cotts trade. The only reason David will be remembered by Cubs fans is because his last name comes first alphabetically on the list of all the players in Cubs history. Garrett Olson is another familiar name on the roster. Olson has never appeared in a game in the blue pinstripes, but he was a Cub for a short time during the 2008-2009 offseason. Garrett came over from Baltimore in the Felix Pie deal but was sent to Seattle along with Ronny Cedeno in the trade that netted the Cubs reliever Aaron Heilman.

These two clubs don't exactly have a long history of playing one another. They've played a total of six games (three in Chicago, three in Seattle) most recently at Wrigley in 2007. The Cubs took two of three in '07 and in '02 when the clubs met in Seattle. Every year, they face off during Spring Training games. This spring, they played only one Cactus League game against one another... a 1-0 Cubs win in Peoria on March 28.

This series will be a homecoming for manager Lou Piniella, who led the M's from 1993 to 2002. The Mariners made four postseason appearances during his tenure including 2001 when they won 116 regular season games.

Cubs' legend and radio broadcaster Ron Santo decided not to make the trip to his hometown. Ronny, who's 70 years old and has already had several health scares this season, is feeling fine and just wants to stay back to rest up. He will rejoin the Cubs when they play at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday. Santo plans to cut back on his travelling because of his health. Dave Otto will fill in for this series.

Third baseman Aramis Ramirez is expected to come off the DL at some point during this series. Rami finished his rehab stint in Peoria 1-6 with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. Gordon Wittenmyer reports that the Cubs will activate Aramis, who was hitting just .168 before going down with the thumb injury, prior to Wednesday night's game. The Cubs will have to make a corresponding roster move... which means Chad Tracy could be in danger of being sent back to Iowa once again.

Game 1: Tuesday at 9:10 CT
Cubs Starting Pitcher: Ryan Dempster (5-5, 3.67 ERA)
Seattle Starting Pitcher: Jason Vargas (5-2, 2.88 ERA)
TV/Radio: CSN+, WGN Radio

Game 2: Wednesday at 9:10 CT
Cubs Starting Pitcher: Randy Wells (3-5, 4.92 ERA)
Seattle Starting Pitcher: Cliff Lee (5-3, 2.55 ERA)
TV/Radio: WGN, WGN Radio

Game 3: Thursday at 2:40 CT
Cubs Starting Pitcher: Carlos Silva (8-2, 3.01 ERA)
Seattle Starting Pitcher: Felix Hernandez (5-5, 3.39 ERA)
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN Radio

The Cubs are embarking on a six game road trip, but after the three in the Pacific Northwest they will be right back to the city of Chicago to play the South Siders. They are 31-38, 7 games out of first, and in third place in the NL Central. The bottom line: The Cubs are much in need of a series win... and against last-place Seattle a sweep would not be too much to ask for.

"I don't care who wins as long as it's the Cubs!"

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