Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals Series Preview

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Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals Series Preview
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

8:05pm ET, Friday, 8/13 TV: CSN, FSMW

Probable pitchers: Thomas Diamond (0-2, 8.00) vs. Jake Westbrook (6-7, 4.54)

4:10pm ET, Saturday, 8/14 TV: FOX

Probable pitchers: Carlos Zambrano (3-6, 5.46) vs. Chris Carpenter (13-3, 2.89)

2:15 pm ET, Sunday, 8/15 TV: WGN, KSDK

Probable pitchers: Ryan Dempster (10-8, 3.66) vs. Jamie Garcia (10-5, 2.71)

2010 season matchups

The Cubs are even with the Cardinals in six matches so far this season (3-3).

They first met in a three-game series in Busch Stadium in the last weekend of May. The Cardinals had two convincing 7-1 and 9-1 victories sandwiched by a 5-0 shutout defeat.

The second time was also a three-game set in Wrigley Field. Chicago won the first two games with the scores of 5-0 and 6-5, but failed to sweep the Cardinals, losing 4-3 in 11 innings in the series finale.

After this weekend’s series, they will meet six more times, three in St .Louis (September 13-15) and three in Chicago (September 24-26).

Chicago Cubs (48-67)

Notes

The Cubs were in San Francisco, playing a four-game series, three games of which they lost against the Giants. All three defeats were one-run games including two walk-off losses.

They have lost five series in a row and had two victories out of 11 games in the month of August. The last series they won was, coincidentally, against the same St. Louis Cardinals in Wrigley Field.

They slide down to fifth position in the NL Central Standings, trailing the Houston Astros by one game and 17 games behind their weekend opponents.

Rookies catcher Welington Castillo and second baseman Darwin Barney have been called up from Class Triple-A Iowa to fill in some vacant spots in the Cubs’ roster this week.

Catcher Geovany Soto was placed on the 15-disabled list because of a sprained right shoulder injury. First baseman Derrek Lee was on the bereavement list. Second baseman Mike Fontenot was acquired by the Giants on Wednesday, when the Cubs were in San Francisco.

Offense

The hottest hitter on the roster is Starlin Castro. The rookie shortstop had four multi-hit games including a four-for-five performance on Thursday and a three-RBI night on Tuesday. His batting average jumps 12 points higher to .320 (.308 through last Sunday).

There are other Cubs who are having hitting streaks: Koyie Hill, Blake DeWitt, and Tyler Colvin have hits in their last four games. Xavier Nady, Marlon Byrd, and Kosuke Fukudome also hit safely in their previous three.

Third baseman Aramis Ramirez missed the last two games due to a sore left rib cage. But he should be available to start Friday. His career record against the Cardinals proves he can do some damages this weekend, as he hits .296 with 24 home runs in 142 games.

First baseman Derrek Lee will rejoin the team on Friday in St. Louis. He was on the bereavement list for family issues and missed the whole series in San Francisco. He was hitting .143 (three-for-21) in last seven games.

Pitching

Starter Thomas Diamond, who will be given the ball on Friday, had a tough time in his second major league start. Not only did he take the loss, it was a short five-run three-inning outing which resulted in a 11-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on August 8.

Carlos Zambrano’s return to the rotation on Monday could not lead the Cubs to a victory. The Saturday starter had a no-decision against the Giants. The Big Z yielded only two runs, but his seven walks to the Giants were excessive. He claimed his fastball had too much movement in that game.

He is 10-6 life-time against the Cardinals with an ERA of 3.50, but he has only faced them in 1.2 innings of work out of the bullpen this year.

Ryan Dempster, who will pitch in the series finale, is the Cubs’ most reliable starter at this moment. He won two in his last two starts (against the Milwaukee Brewers and the San Francisco Giants), and both were quality outings with an excellent ERA of 1.40.

However, his record against St. Louis this year is 0-1 with an ERA of 5.93. The loss came on May 30 in Wrigley Field, when he conceded six runs in 6.2 innings.

St. Louis Cardinals (64-49)

Notes

The Cardinals regain the leading spot in the NL Central division after sweeping the Reds this week in Cincinnati. They are currently one game ahead of the Reds in the standings. Since the pennant is so airtight, winning any game is important for them.

They had Thursday off after the road trip, as the players should be recharged and ready to face the Cubs. Before the series in Cincinnati, they played against the Florida Marlins last weekend. The three-game series was shortened because Sunday contest was postponed due to bad weather. The Cardinals split that series 1-1.

After the series with Cubs, St. Louis will have another day off before a two-game set playing the Milwaukee Brewers at home.

Offense

Any team with someone called Pujols in the lineup is extremely dangerous. Albert is in a little slump in term of hitting home runs. He has not hit the ball out of the park in his last four games. But he maintains the batting average of .400 in his last 20 at-bats.

The Cubs cannot ignore him as he is the team leader in batting average (.310), home runs (28), and RBI (84). He hit a home run off Ryan Dempster in the last Cubs-Cardinals game in Wrigley Field.

Matt Holliday follows him, having the second-best batting average at .307. The left-fielder has a seven-game hitting streak. He also produced runs in eight of his last ten games.

Center-fielder Colby Rasmus had a grand slam home run on Wednesday in Cincinnati and scored four runs in that series.

Manager Tony LaRussa will not be giving out commands from the dugout in the first two games this weekend. He received a suspension from Major League Baseball after the benches-clearing melee on Tuesday in Cincinnati.

Pitching

Friday will be the first time for starter Jake Westbrook to face the Chicago Cubs in his career. The former Cleveland Indians pitcher was acquired by St. Louis before the non-waiver trade deadline.

He pitched two games for the Cardinals, in which St. Louis lost to the Houston Astros and the Florida Marlins. But he received no-decisions in both games.

He does not have a habit of walking batters. This year, he gave up only 45 bases-on-ball in 140.2 innings, including only one walk in 13 innings with the Cardinals.

Number one ace Chris Carpenter has not lost a game since July 8. He has a four-game winning streak and pitched at least seven frames in his last six outings, including a no-decision against the Cubs on July 25.

His last victory was on Monday in Cincinnati. He threw seven strong innings, giving up two runs and five hits.

He carries a 10-3 record against the Cubs in his career into Saturday game with an ERA of 2.79 and a WHIP of 1.18.

Left-hander Jamie Garcia will start on Sunday. The rookie is sensational this year. With a double-digit win record (10), he has established himself in the Cardinals’ rotation. Coming back from injury, Garcia did not pitch an inning in major league last year.

He beat the Reds in his last start Tuesday allowing four earned runs in 5.1 innings.

This article is also featured on www.sportshaze.com.

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