In case you missed it, Lou Piniella had a little back-and-forth jabber with a reporter after yesterday’s 3-2 loss to the Washington Nationals.
It’s good to see that Sweet Lou still has a little baseball life left in him. I was beginning to think he had lost all of his passion, kind of like the Cubs’ offense against the Nasty Nats pitching staff.
The North Siders managed only seven runs against Washington after pounding out 25 in the weekend series against Milwaukee.
On paper, this team has more than enough offensive firepower. But watching them struggle to put up runs against mediocre pitching is getting old fast.
What’s worse is that the Cubs are wasting the league’s fourth best ERA among starters (3.01).
In addition to my series prediction at the end of this preview, I’m going to make another.
I predict Piniella gets his first ejection of the year, and I expect some foreign object to be tossed around. I say it’s a bucket of balls, but I’m always a big fan of a base or even the cap to the dirt (with a little kicking, of course).
Chicago Cubs vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Pitching matchups are subject to change.
Thursday, April 29: Ted Lilly (1-0, 0.00) vs. Ian Kennedy (0-1, 4.43)
Friday, April 30: Randy Wells (2-0, 2.49) vs. Rodrigo Lopez (1-0, 4.88)
Saturday, May 1: Carlos Silva (2-0, 1.73) vs. Dan Haren (3-1, 4.50)
Sunday, May 2: Tom Gorzelanny (0-3, 2.45) vs. Edwin Jackson (1-2, 6.67)
On the Mound
Ted Lilly didn’t look like he had overpowering stuff in his first start against Milwaukee Saturday, but that’s the way the lefty operates. Lilly was up in the zone a lot against the Brewers, and that spells trouble if the wind is blowing out at Wrigley.
Lilly posted a solid 8-2 record and 1.87 ERA at home in 2009, but he is just 2-3 with a 3.97 ERA against the D-Backs. I won’t even mention the 2007 NLDS Game Two in Arizona. Ugh.
What a Relief
Carlos Marmol is averaging 16.03 strikeouts per nine innings, and his 19 strikeouts as a reliever rank third best in the MLB. What you have to like even more is Marmol has only issued four walks.
Marmol hasn’t had a save since April 14, but Piniella is still throwing him out there to get some work. Oh, and he’s got a 0.84 ERA. So far, so good on the closer front.
At the Plate
The good news is that the Cubs' one and two hitters, Ryan Theriot and Kosuke Fukudome, are both leading the team with a .333 BA. The bad news is the rest of the guys can’t bring ‘em in.
Theriot and Fukudome each have combined for 22 RBI, while Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez have combined for 23.
Home Run or Bust
In the Cubs' 10 wins this year, the team has hit 17 home runs. In their 12 losses, the Cubs have hit just six home runs.
Combine that with a .253 BA with runners in scoring position (18th worst in MLB), and you are asking for trouble. Get ‘em over and get ‘em in!
If you live and die by the home run, you have to be able to manufacture some runs.
I’m not liking this series one bit. The D-Backs have scored 116 runs on the year, which is good for fourth best in the MLB. The Cubs were able to put a stop to the Brewers' hot streak of hitting, but the D-Backs have a much better rotation than Milwaukee. Get into Arizona’s bullpen, though, and you've got a chance.