Series Preview: Cubs vs. D-Backs; Game Recap: D-Backs 2, Cubs 0
As happens from time to time when people get busy, we failed to deliver unto you a timely preview or recap. Hell, we're only 3 hours away from the second game of the series and you still don't know the Cubs chances because we haven't written about it yet!! I know! It's crazy!
Let's do it in the reverse this time - we'll recap yesterday's game and then preview the pending twofer.
Game Recap: Arizona 2, Cubs 0
If Randy Johnson only pitched against the Cubs in his career, he would certainly have a better record than Cy Young. He has, does, and always will own the Cubs. Even in this, a season in which Johnson has clearly lost whatever he had that made him great, and, more importantly, a season in which the Cubs have one of the best teams in recent memory, and El Gordo Unito still dominates. So much for my clearly optimistic photoshop of Johnson as a human punching bag:
Once you discount the fact that the Cubs lost and were made to look like tools, it was a pretty good game. Rich Harden stepped in and, without an apparent pitch count, threw 112 pitches in 7 innings, giving up a solitary hit, walking 2, and striking out 10. Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lone hit against Harden was one which landed in a mass of bodies, and that was enough for the Cubs to lose.
Oh, also, Bob Howry has continued to prove himself irreverent. He had another shoddy outing in the 9th. Chad Gaudin, the Cubs are calling your number. Please step up to the set-up role.
Tuesday, July 22nd, Jason Marquis (6-5, 4.44 ERA) vs. Yusmeiro Petit (0-1, 3.06 ERA)
Want to hear something strange? When I looked to the upcoming schedule and saw the name "Marquis," I had a sick feeling in my stomach. Somehow, a part of me had forgotten Marquis is a Cub. To see him scheduled to pitch tonight was a tremendous disappointment. You know, had I been the guy scheduling the rotation, I would have flipped Marquis with Harden. You know from experience that it's going to be tough beating Randy Johnson, why waste Harden's arm on a heart-breaker? Anyway, Marquis is trying to carry momentum into this start, although he may have trouble doing so as I expect that he's shocked to learn that he has momentum. The Big Jason won 4 games last month to only 1 loss, while compiling an ERA of 4.91. So far in July, Marquis is 0-1 but with a 1.29 ERA as, like Lilly, he has found it hard to win games when his team has scored an average of 1 run per start.
Yusmeiro Petit, on the other hand, is one in a long line of pitchers who have both silly names and the ability to wipe that smile off your face real quickly. Petit is a young pitcher with a career ERA of 5.61, and in particular, through 17.2 innings of work this year his ERA is 3.06. He's only walked 1 guy to 11 strikeouts, he was pretty damn good in his only start this year, and ESPN says that his name is pronounced "Puh-TEET."
Wednesday, July 23rd, Ted Lilly (9-6, 4.49 ERA) vs. Doug Davis (3-4, 4.14 ERA)
Theodore Roosevelt Lilly looks to win his 10th game of the year against Doug Davis, who shockingly just isn't pitching up to the level he delivered against the Cubs last October. Davis is neither overpowering nor even particularly effective these days, and the Cubs offense needs to wake up Dr. Phil style and take him to town tomorrow in order to compensate for the castration delivered to them by Randy Johnson last night. (Castrated by a "Randy Johnson?" Oh, sweet irony!)
Lilly has yet to win a game this month, although his ERA has been a reasonable 4.04 through 3 starts. If you pretend that the July 10th game against the Reds never happened*, then you may observe that Lilly has pitched pretty well this month, but has received next-to-no run support from the Cubs offense.
(*Note: it's probably not a good thing when you have to flat-out pretend that five or six of your pitcher's starts simply never happened. Not exactly the biggest lender of confidence.)
Predictions: The Cubs really need to get their offense into gear. It's a sad, shameful day when a 44 year old man with no cartilage in his knee can make your team look that bad, but Randy Johnson did it. Maybe we should just accept that the Cubs can not, and never will beat the Big Unit, or maybe we should be worried about a team that has scored exactly 2 runs in 3 of the 4 games played since the All Star Break.
It's hard to put my faith in the arm of Jason Marquis. You might as well ask me to flush myself down the toilet. But the Cubs are only holding a 2-run lead in the Central, and with the bitterly despised Marlins coming up on the schedule, a little momentum would be a nice thing. So, you know, maybe they should just buckle down and blow out the D-Backs tonight on the back of a Marquis shut-out. And maybe moneybags will fall from the sky. Anything's possible.