Weekend Preview -- Cubs vs. Astros
There are many good storylines surrounding this weekend, enough for Ryne to give this game his "Double" approval in his latest Yahoo! Sports column for series to watch. Perhaps the most high-profile of all surrounds Clemens and Maddux. Tonight's game marks the first time since 1987 that two pitchers with more than 300 wins take the mound to face one another, and both teams have a lot to prove.
The Astros are hitting horrendously so far this season - OF Jason Lane leads the team is almost every offensive category: .313 BA, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 12 R is the benchmark for Houston so far this season.
In contast, the Cubs have been lighting up the scoreboard more consistently, and have several players who are capable and reliable for serious damage in Minute Maid Park: Lee, Perez and Burnitz to name just 3.
However, the Cubs key player might be Aramis Ramirez, who is batting .600 lifetime vs. Clemens with a HR and 3 RBI. Given the non-existent run support Clemens has received so far this season (4 starts, 1 ER in 28 IP and 1-0 : 3 NDs), it might not take much to ground the Rocket. Also look to Grieve possibly getting the start in LF given his career success against Clemens.
It is not all good news, however, as several Astros have the edge on Maddux with the bat. The saving grace is that Berkman, the most destructive to Greg's stats, is still inactive on the DL after knee surgery.
Notable Career stats
Cubs vs. Clemens
1. Aramis Ramirez - .600, HR, 3 RBI
2. Derrek Lee - .467, 5 2B, RBI
3. Ben Grieve - .300, 4 2B, 2 HR, 10 RBI
4. Jeromy Burnitz -.278, 2B, HR, 3 RBI
Astros vs. Maddux
1. Lance Berkman - .400, 2 HR, 3 RBI
2. Brad Ausmus - .364
3. Jeff Bagwell - .304, 6 HR, 16 RBI, 15 K
4. Craig Biggio - .302, HR, 5 RBI, 10 K
CHC: RHP Greg Maddux • 0-1, 4.50 ERA in 2005 • 2-1, 3.50 ERA in 2004 vs. HOU
HOU: RHP Roger Clemens • 1-0, 0.32 ERA in 2005 • 2-1, 4.15 ERA in 2004 vs. CHC
CHC: RHP Kerry Wood • 1-1, 5.79 ERA in 2005 • 0-1, 10.39 ERA in 2004 vs. HOU
HOU: RHP Brandon Backe • 1-1, 6.17 ERA in 2005 • 0-1, 6.30 ERA in 2004 vs. CHC
CHC: RHP Mark Prior • 3-0, 0.95 ERA in 2005 • 2-0, 2.49 ERA in 2004 vs. HOU
HOU: RHP Roy Oswalt • 3-2, 3.25 ERA in 2005 • 2-3 , 4.11 ERA in 2004 vs. CHC
I feel like the Cubs can take 2 out of 3 in this series. Their bats have been far more consistent this season to-date, and despite Wood's 2004 performances against Houston (10 ER in 8 2/3 IP), the Cubbies still have enough to get past these pitching problems. Hopefully we'll see three evenly-matched pitching duels, with the Cubs' bats providing enough offense to take the series.