Series Preview: Chicago Cubs @ Seattle Mariners - June 22-24, 2010
The Cubs come into Seattle fresh off a 3-game weekend set against the Halos that truly was a microcosm of how this season's gone. We lost a game where a rally fell frustratingly short, we lost a game where absolutely nothing went right and we couldn't get a hit, and then we won a game where we looked like absolute world-beaters...the pitching was great, the hitting was red-hot..and it was one giant tease. That is precisely why I expect us to go out to the Emerald City and take at least 2 of 3, if not both..because, well, that's what the Cubs do. They tease and frustrate.
Plus, this Mariners team is an absolutely awful one. They've already driven out franchise icon Ken Griffey Jr this year, and absolutely are not scoring enough runs. They've got some good pitchers in King Felix, Cliff Lee (who they're trying to trade), the currently injured Doug Fister, and tonight's starter Jason Vargas. And that's before you mention their pen, which has been pretty good. But oh, the offense. The Mariners have 8 guys on their roster with over 100 AB, and only 3 have OPS's over .700 (Ichiro, CF Franklin Gutierrez, and IF Josh Wilson). Their 235 runs rank 28th in baseball.
Therefore it stands to reason that if the Cubbies pitch well, we should see some crisply-played, well pitched games. We'll see if that's the case. Onto the pitching matchups...
Tuesday June 22nd: Ryan Dempster (5-5, 3.67) vs. Jason Vargas (5-2, 2.88)
Demp got his 5th win of the season last week against Oakland to even his season mark. He's been pitching pretty well, going deep in damn near every game, and being consistent for the most part. He's making good money - but earning it in my book. He'll be opposed by Vargas. He's a career journeyman who has managed to get a 4-leaf clover up his ass this year and has turned in good numbers over his 13 starts. He's on his 3rd big league team already at the ripe age of 27, and he's making a case to become a part of the M's future. He's a lefty, and he's been absolutely brutal against other lefties this year, so i'd look for Nady in RF tonight.
Wednesday June 23rd: Randy Wells (3-5, 5.10) vs. Cliff Lee (5-3, 2.55)
The Mariners have the overwhelming pitching advantage here, as Wells has scuffled the better part of the last month-plus (tho he pitched well against Oakland on Thursday), and Cliff Lee has been excellent since his season debut in early May. Lee started on Friday against Cincinnati, and got the win in a 1-0 game. Look at that M's offense supporting him! As mentioned, his name has been thrown about in trade talks, so Mariners fans have to wonder everytime he starts from here on out - "is this the last start for Cliff in our uniform?"
Thursday June 24th: Carlos Silva (8-2, 3.02) vs. Felix Hernandez (5-5, 3.39)
Felix Hernandez has a pedestrian record (due to his team's struggles), but he's far from a pedestrian pitcher. He's quite simply one of the best pitchers in the AL - and a piece that Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik refuses to trade. That's probably a good stance to take. The fact that he's pitching isn't the only reason to look forward to Thursday's matinee - it also marks the return of Silva the Hut to Seattle - where he terrorized Mariners fans in 2008 and 2009. That should make for interesting baseball.
Oh and I hear a former Cub from last year will be playing in this series too. Good for him. That's all I want to say about him, and I don't want to hear the same tired stories re-hashed. Just win some damned baseball games.
Keep the faith.