Goatriders of the Apocalypse

GameCast: August 4th at Cincinnati

GameCastTom Gorzelanny (3-1, 5.19 ERA) vs. Johnny Cueto (8-8, 4.06 ERA)
Story-lines

I have mixed feelings about this game - and the rest of the Cubs games against the Reds.  On one hand, for two reasons I'm hoping the Reds get crushed.  First, Cincinnati is on a downward spiral and the Cubs need to take advantage of their collapsing opponent.  Second, I don't hate the Reds and if the Cubs can continue to put the hammer to them, they just might fire Dusty Baker and salvage their franchise before he runs more of their young arms onto the surgeon's table.

On the other hand, I'm almost hoping that the Reds pull out of their nose-dive and manage to win just enough games to keep Dusty his job, if only because it's one less team to worry about in the Central.  But like I said, I don't hate Cincy and I pity their fanbase for living under the shadow of such a terrible manager.

Regardless, if the Reds win any it will be tonight's.  Tom Gorzelanny -- whom some of us were hoping would be on his way to some other team for a middle infielder -- makes his debut for the Cubs.  Before his struggles and injuries last year, Gorzo was an up-and-coming lefty starter with a lot of promise, going 14-10 with a 3.88 ERA in 2007.  Maybe he'll still meet that promise in a Cubs uniform, but I'm not holding my breath.

His opponent tonight is the young, talented Johnny Cueto, whose arm is probably aching for Dusty Baker to get fired.  Just a month ago Cueto was 8-4 with a 2.69 ERA.  Since then, he's gone 0-4 with a 10.32 ERA.  Maybe the Reds need to entertain shutting the 23-year-old pitcher down for a while.

Who's hot
Kosuke Fukudome -- He recently spent a week with his old batting coach from Japan.  The result has been nothing short of spectacular.  Fukudome has batted .364 in his 55 at bats since the All Star Break.  That production includes 6 doubles, 2 triples, and 13 walks to go along with his 20 hits -- giving him an OBP of .485.  Put it to you another way; Kosuke has a .447 OBP as a leadoff man this year. 

Derrek Lee, Mike Fontenot, Aramis Ramirez, Jake Fox, and Andres Blanco  have all put up an OPS of .943 or better in the past week.  That production equates to 7 homers and 26 RBI. 

Who's not
Alfonso Soriano -- The slumbering giant has, after a brief stretch, rolled back over and gone back to sleep.  Sori has spent the past week whiffing a lot again, not that his few hits haven't been huge.  Of course, whether he hits well or not doesn't matter.  Cub fans will hate him regardless, because apparently we are stoopid.

Conclusions
The Reds are presently 11.5 games behind the first place Chicago Cubs.  Whether the Cubs pound them or not, this is probably Dusty's last hurrah.  Odds are, it will be a lot closer than we might expect.  Unless Cueto is in fact nursing an injury, he's bound to do better than his 10+ ERA.  Unless Gorzo is pitching like his old self, the Reds are bound to take him for a few rides.  Either way, whether the two teams combine to score 20 runs or 6, I suspect that the game will end in a save situation.

Gorzy

Tonight is one of those games I'm actually going to pay attention to, at least for awhile, rather than just having it on while doing other things. If Gorzelanny is any good it could have positive implications for October. Not that I'd expect him to be a playoff starter, but a few good lefties in the bullpen would be a nice bulwark against the Phillies lefty-dominated lineup. I don't think Gorzy is the biggest deal out there, but every little bit helps when your potential opponents are busy giving up minor leaguers for Cy Youngs (or would it by Cys Young?)

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