Monday, July 19, 2010

Series Preview: Cubs VS Astros

After starting the second half successfully by taking three of four from the Phillies the question is Can the Cubs win with consistency? After knocking Roy Halladay around on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, the Cubbies must avoid the let down factor and win a series against the lowly Astros.

Saturday's game was a tough one, because the Cubs were that close to sweeping the series and having a four game over .500 weekend instead of a two games over .500 weekend.

The Cubs have a history of having trouble with struggling teams like the Astros and Pirates. If this mini turn around is for real, beating the 'Stros before a tough weekend series with St. Louis is a must.

Houston comes in to Wrigley Field with a 37-55 record, 14 games back in the NL Central. They are still in fifth place, 4.5 ahead of the Bucs. After a crucial series victory, the Cubs are tied with the Brewers for third in the division. Both teams are 9.5 games back of St. Louis, who took over first with a win yesterday.

The Astros, who are in the Windy City for three games, have had a tough go of it on the road, 17-29 this season. They started their second half by dropping two of three in Pittsburgh. Houston will look to bounce back tonight after a tough 9-0 defeat yesterday.

The Cubbies dropped two of three when the two teams met August 16-18 at Wrigley. The Cubs lost the first set of the year at Minute Maid June 4-6, so the 'Stros have a 4-2 edge in the season series thusfar. The two teams will not go long without seeing each other, as a three game set in Houston starts next Monday. The Central division foes will battle at Wrigley one more time after this series, September 6-8 in the final meetings of the year.

Marlon Byrd had a great series against the Phills and continued to show that he's a team player. Marlon was hit by the pitch four times in the series, twice last night. He is second in the league in HBP with 16. Rickie Weeks, who has been plunked 17 times, leads the league.

Tyler Colvin hit lead-off yesterday and Starlin Castro returned to the No. 2 spot in the order. We'll see if Lou keeps the kids at the top tonight. Piniella also showed craftiness in the series, calling for two squeeze bunts and several other strategic plays to try to get the offense going.

Carlos Zambrano could rejoin the team in time for their next road trip, which starts a week from today. Z tossed a simulated game in Mesa and is expected to make a rehab start at Triple-Iowa this week.

Game 1: Monday 7:05 PM CT
Astros Starting Pitcher: Wandy Rodriguez, LHP (6-11, 4.97 ERA)
Cubs Starting Pitcher: Carlos Zambrano, RHP (9-3, 3.45 ERA)
TV/Radio: WCIU/WGN 720

Game 2: Tuesday 7:05 PM CT
Astros Starting Pitcher: Wesley Wright, LHP (0-0, 5.59 ERA)
Cubs Starting Pitcher: Ryan Dempster, RHP (8-7, 3.57 ERA)
TV/Radio: CSN/WGN 720

Game 3: Wednesday 1:20 PM CT
Astros Starting Pitcher: Brett Myers, RHP (7-6, 3.35 ERA)
Cubs Starting Pitcher: Ted Lilly, LHP (3-8, 4.07 ERA)
TV/Radio: WGN-TV/WGN 720

The bottom line for the Cubs is just taking it one win at a time. After this series they will enjoy a day off tomorrow and then host St. Louis to round out the ten game homestand. The Astros start a homestand of their own against the Reds on Friday. The Cubs and Brewers will be in town to play the 'Stros next week.

The MLB Trade Deadline is less than two weeks away... but will the Cubs play on the field effect whether the Hendry decides buy or sell, or is it a case of too little too late.

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

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