Preview: Cubs vs. Brewers -- Showdown in Brewtown
The Brewers come into the game, like the Cubs, after a rest day. That is where the similarity ends, however, as Milwaukee is also fresh from a weekend sweep of the Cincinnati Reds. They scored 23 runs over those 3 games, giving up 11, and some of their hitters have been getting hot over the past week, notably:
1B Lyle Overbay 9-11 (.818 BA), 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI
SS Bill Hall 7-20 (.350 BA), 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI
The Cubs obviously have plenty of offensive weapons of their own, ones we've talked about at great length, so the promise is there for a great series. Lee, Perez, and Burnitz are all batting well, and Chicago's cause is helped somewhat by the injury to Brewers ace Ben Sheets, who may have been scheduled to make a start during these 3 games.
Key Series Players
P Carlos Zambrano - it would be nice to see Zam-bravo pick up the win tonight after some rough games in Houston. This season he pitched 7 scoreless innings in a 4-0 win against the Brewers, and over the last 3 years, CZ is 4-2 with a 2.06 ERA vs. Milwaukee. Numbers like these make me think he should triumph tonight against a largely uninspiring lineup, and against a young pitcher like Capuano.
1B Derrek Lee - this one goes without saying. The man is having the season to envy right now, breaking Cubs records for April RBIs. His batting eye is consistent, his swing is powerful; no reason not to consider him a threat against any team he faces.
RF Jeromy Burnitz - Burny was a nominee in the running for NL Player of the Week last week, an award his teammate D-Lee claimed for himself. His bat is on fire lately, and he is proving once-doubters like myself to be wrong, owning his position. Last week he went 8-19 (.421 BA), with 2 2B, 2 HR and 5 RBI, 2 of this RBIs coming in the 3-2 Friday night win over Roger Clemens and the Astros. He is becoming the man the Cubs need him to be, so look for his bat and ever-improving defense to come up big in Milwaukee-town.
1B Lyle Overbay - he is the Derrek Lee of Milwaukee. So many hopes for the Brewers' success ride on his broad shoulders, and he's beginning to heat up (stats above show last week//For the season: .355 BA, 5 HR, 16 RBI, OBP .484, SLG .645). He needs to pick up the slack for strugglers like Carlos Lee and Russell Branyan if the Beermen are to have any luck this season.
P Victor Santos - with injury to Ben Sheets, the rest of the rotation needs to pick it up, and guys like Santos are the key. Over the last 3 years, the Cubs have been one of his preferred customers, going 3-2 in 8 starts with a 2.64 ERA and limiting the bats to a .217 BA. Stats like these are meant to be broken, but in scraps like this against division rivals, it's important to ride the wave and prove that they're far from fictional.
C Damian Miller - He's a veteran of MLB, and has had success against Maddux in the past - 7-17 (.412 BA), 6 RBI lifetime - and the Brewers need their more experienced players to pick it up and pull the team along while their ace pitcher gets healthy. He's batting .316 over the past week (6-19), .313 for the season, and his place in the lineup can cause problems for any pitcher on any day.
MIL: LHP Chris Capuano • 1-2, 4.76 ERA in 2005 • 0-0, 5.06 ERA in 2005 vs. CHC
CHC: RHP Carlos Zambrano • 2-0, 4.31 ERA in 2005 • 1-0, 0.00 ERA in 2005 vs. MIL
MIL: LHP Victor Santos • 1-1, 3.25 ERA in 2005 • 0-0, 3.60 ERA in 2005 vs. CHC
CHC: RHP Ryan Dempster • 1-3, 5.67 ERA in 2005 • Has not faced MIL in 2005
MIL: RHP John Glover • 2-1, 5.16 ERA in 2005 • 0-0, 0.00 ERA in 2005 vs. CHC
CHC: RHP Greg Maddux • 1-1, 4.20 ERA in 2005 • 0-0, 5.40 ERA in 2005 vs. MIL
The Cubs did take 2 of 3 from the Brewers in the 1st week of the season, leading LB to believe that a similar outcome is on the cards. Sure, the Cubs bullpen is struggling, but considering their potential for serious runs at any given moment, one might think this can tip our way.