Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Gamecast: July 31st at Marlins

Rich Harden (7-6, 4.55 ERA) vs. Chris Volstad (8-9, 4.44 ERA)

Story Lines

The Cubs are once again in first place thanks to a comeback victory by the Dodgers last night in St. Louis. After St. Louis struck for Matt Holliday, Mark DeRosa and Julio Lugo, the Cubs went out yesterday and dealt for John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny.

The move has been discussed at length, but it probably helped the team. For one, it does give the Cubs another arm in the bullpen to go along with Sean Marshall, even if he gets out right handers better than lefties. The Cubs should get better on their own over the next few weeks with Ted Lilly, Geovany Soto and Reed Johnson coming back.

Tonight's game starts a long road trip for the Cubs. They make trips to the Marlins, Reds and Rockies, and this is a very important time for the Cubs to continue to play well.

Rich Harden heads to the bump tonight, and it will be interesting to see  how he pitches at night after all the fuss the last few weeks. Harden's been great since the All-Star brek. In three starts, he's 2-0 with a 0.95 ERA with 21 strikeouts and two walks. Harden's lack of walks have been the key for him, but that's true of any pitcher.

Who's Hot

Aramis Ramirez - The "Real" Aramis Ramirez is back, and maybe stronger than ever. Ramirez has crushed the ball of late with a .520 average with four HR's and 10 RBI. That translates to a 1.746 OPS during the streak.

Kosuke Fukudome - It is no shock to see the Cubs turn things around when Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano starting to hit. In his last 7 games, Fukudome is hitting .409 with a 1.109 OPS.

Milton Bradley - He's still hitting a lot of singles, but he does have two home runs in the last week. His line in the last week of .333/.483/.619 is showing real signs of improvement. Overall, his OPS is up to .776. Still not great, but getting better.

Who's Not

Mike Fontenot - I really thought the Cubs would make a deal for a 2B, but it does not look like it is going to happen. Even with his two hits yesterday, Fontenot's still just 3-for-17 in his last six games.

Conclusions

The Cubs have traditionally struggled with the Marlins, but they did take 3 of 4 back in April during a homestand. Hopefully, the Cubs can find a way to take 2 of 3 this weekend.

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