Friday, July 23, 2010

Series Preview: Cubs VS Cardinals

When it's the Cubs and the Cardinals, the two teams step it up a notch. Usually, no matter where the teams are in the standings, competitive baseball is played! Let's hope that is the case this weekend when the 43-53 Cubs meet the 54-42 Cards at Wrigley Field.

St. Louis has the lead in the NL Central by 1.5 games over the Reds. They are 11 games in front of the 4th place Cubs. The Cards lost to the Phillies yesterday, but they're 8-2 in their last ten games! That loss snapped an eight game winning streak and ruined a perfect homestand. Today is the start of a six game road swing that will continue on to New York after Sunday.

This stretch of ten straight games at Wrigley started on a positive not when the Cubbies took three of four from the Phillies. However, they lost two of three at the hands of the woeful Astros. A winning homestand hinges on this set against the NL Central's top dog.

The Cubs and Cards have only met in one other series so far this year. The Cubs dropped two of three at Wrigley May 28-30. St. Lou got wins in blowout fashion, 7-1 in game one and 9-1 in game three. A lot of rivalry games will be played in the final two months, as these two teams meet 3 times in August and 6 in September. They play the next two of those series at Busch Stadium and the September 24-26 set will be back at The Friendly Confines.

Even though Tony La Russa has said that he will probably never manage the Cubs, he will still have to field a lot of questions from the Chicago media about the job opening. Tony's future is uncertain as 2010 is the final year of his contract. He has said that there are too many conflicts for him to take the Cubs job because of his relationships and history with both the Cardinals and White Sox.

General Manager John Mozeliak is much more comfortable after inking a three year extension last week. Cubs GM Jim Hendry also has job security after it was announced that he will lead the search for a new skipper. Hendry's main focus right now is the trade deadline that is only 8 days away. So far the Cubs have been silent and there have not been too many big moves around baseball.

Jayson Stark of says that Ted Lilly will almost certainly be traded. Tom Gorzelanny is on the market as well. With Carlos Zambrano rehabbing at Triple-A Iowa, it is possible that he could fill any opening in the rotation at some point. Z is expected to return to the bullpen next weekend in Colorado. He tossed a shutout inning for the I-Cubs last night and will make two more appearances there.

Carlos Silva will not pitch in this series because he is going to work with Larry Rothschild on the side after two straight bad outings. The Cubs say the issue is not injury related, but Silva has had hamstring problems this season.

Even though the three big stories this weekend seem to be the search for Lou's replacement, the trade deadline, and the HOF induction, there are still some big games to be played between the Cubs and Cardinals.

Game 1: Friday at 1:20 CT
Cardinals Starting Pitcher: Jeff Suppan, RHP (0-3, 4.20 ERA)
Cubs Starting Pitcher: Randy Wells, RHP (4-7, 4.33 ERA)
TV/Radio: WGN/WGN Radio

Game 2: Saturday at 12:05 CT
Cardinals Starting Pitcher: Blake Hawksworth, RHP (4-5, 4.85 ERA)
Cubs Starting Pitcher: Tom Gorzelanny, LHP (5-5, 3.12 ERA)
TV/Radio: CSN/WGN Radio

Game 3: Sunday at 7:05 CT
Cardinals Starting Pitcher: Chris Carpenter, RHP (11-3, 3.05 ERA)
Cubs Starting Pitcher: Ryan Dempster, RHP (8-7, 3.70 ERA)
TV/Radio: ESPN/WGN Radio

The Cubs will travel to Houston after Sunday's game to start a trip that also will see a stop in Colorado. They will return to Wrigley on August 2.

Let's go get a series win!

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