Series Preview: Astros at Chicago
Just a quick one tonight as I have to get to scampering ...
It is early August and the Cubs persist on having the best record in the National League. That doesn't mean that people aren't nervous. The Dodgers - who seem to know the secrets to shutting down the Cubs offense - feel like a playoff team. The Marlins - who beat the Cubs in '03 and have maintained a stranglehold on them since - just might surprise everybody in the East. And the Brewers, well, let's be honest. Nobody is afraid of the Brewers.
Let's jump into this series:
Monday, August 4th Ryan Dempster (12-4, 2.91 ERA) vs. Brian Moehler (6-4, 4.23 ERA)
This game is in progress as I blog, but I'm trying to ignore it so as not to taint my objectivity. That said, I predict the Cubs will score fast and furiously, and erupt to a huge lead before the 3rd inning. Wait, what? Erm, never-mind.
In reality, Ryan Dempster and the Cubs would do fine if they remembered one important rule - never, ever, ever pitch to Carlos Lee. Carlos Lee is an alumni of the Cub Killer squad, and he bats comfortably between Adam Dunn and Mike Schmidt. However, the Cubs remain an offensively explosive team, and while they are currently trailing, I would be surprised if the score wasn't a little less anemic before the end of the night.
Tuesday, August 5th Rich Harden (1-1, 1.11 ERA) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (6-4, 3.61 ERA)
Harden has been hard-luck since coming to Chicago, but he remains #1 in our hearts. Get it? #1? He's 1-1 with a 1.11 ERA? Guh, never mind. Harden has become the best pitcher on the Cubs staff. When he came to Wrigleyville, as there were concerns that his arm is a ticking time-bomb, there was talk that the Cubs would rest him whenever possible, that they'd keep him on a low pitch count, and that they'd either skip his turn or give him an extra day's rest as often as they could. Well, that hasn't happened yet. However, if any team knows an arm injury waiting to happen, it's this one, and you have to figure that the Cubs staff are keeping a close eye on Harden's health.
Wandy Rodriguez, meanwhile, has a really funny first name. I'm sorry, I'll never get over it.
Wednesday, August 6th Jason Marquis (6-7, 4.68 ERA) vs. Brandon Backe 6-10, 4.72 ERA)
I'm not sure if I could have envisioned a better match-up for Marquis. If ever there was a pitcher he could out-duel, it's Brandon Backe. Both pitchers put the meh in mehdiocre (what do you mean it's a typo?), and I would expect this to be a very high scoring, rollicking affair in which the Cubs pull alway with a massive, 18-12 victory, or something equally absurd.
The Cubs have the ability to win every series they play this month. Point of fact, they sort of need to, because they have a great opportunity to pull deeply ahead of the Brewers and Cardinals. The Astros are not easy to beat, though. They have a good offense and a better-than-mediocre pitching staff, and Carlos Lee has a well-knotched belt which symbolizes the number of times he's killed the Cubs.
It could be a close series, or it could be an ugly one. So far, the Cubs are losing 2-0. I doubt that will remain the case. Point of fact, I'm pretty certain it won't. This series should see a lot of runs, and most of them should be scored by the Cubs.