Well hello again everyone. Apologies for the last couple of days -- since watching the Cubs/Marlins game on ESPN wednesday, I've been drinking and trying to scrub myself clean after the shellacking. And now, it's safe to say, the lingering after-effects of both have worn off, and the boring rest day is behind us, so it's back to business.
The Yankees versus the Cubs. The first time the Cubs have visited Evil Stadium since 1938, and it's been a long time coming. Unlike previous seasons, the roles are a little reversed as the Yankees play the role of the wobbly, awkward teen while the leather jacket-clad Cubs are getting all the girls to neck with in the back seat of their Corvettes.
For the Bronx brood, their pitching has seen a huge upswing after the horrendous Jaret Wright/Kevin Brown hurling oblivion of the first month. In the last week, both Mussina and Randy Johnson have thrown impressive games, giving up 1 run in 16 innings. The only reasons I know this are that my friend is a Pirates fan (and I took great relish in watching both SHOs come against his hapless team) and that the team I'm currently playing in fantasy baseball has both those a**holes (not so much relish in watching that unfold).
The Cubs, on the other hand, have enjoyed periodic blasts of offense and seen several players come to life with the bat. Slug-fests with the Marlins didn't help matters, as their pitching staff has given up 32 runs in the last 4 games (1-3), scoring only 16 in return.
Cubs: (last 7 days)
Todd Walker -- .526 (10-19), 7 R
Aramis Ramirez -- .500 (12-24), 2 HR, 8 RBI
Jeromy Burnitz -- .478 (11-23), 3 HR, 6 RBI, 8 R
Derrek Lee -- .455 (10-22), 6 2B, 4 RBI, 6 R
Todd Hollandsworth -- .421 (8-19), HR, 7 RBI
The Yankees are not without hot hitters either:
(last 7 days)
Jorge Posada -- .438, 2 HR, 5 RBI
Robinson Cano -- .409, 2 RBI
Hideki Matsui -- .391, 2 HR, 6 RBI
Jason Giambi -- .385, HR, 5 RBI
Derek Jeter -- .385
It makes for 3 intriguing matchups with a some shaken-up pitchers taking on the Yankees in their own house, while the Cubs lineup will be taking on a staff that has gained some confidence on the back of dominating pitching against some admittedly weaker opponents.
Zambrano (CHC -- 4-3, 3.19 ERA) vs. Pavano (NYY -- 4-5, 4.17 ERA)
Rusch (CHC -- 5-2, 2.57 ERA) vs. Wang (NYY -- 3-2, 4.44 ERA)
Mitre (CHC -- 2-1, 3.55 ERA) vs. Mussina (NYY -- 7-4, 3.89 ERA)
Corey Patterson, OF
Having noticed some rather interesting predictions about Steinbrenner and Patterson from members and commenters on this very site, I thought it only appropriate to make him a key player. Against Carl "South Beach" Pavano, Corey-P is batting .571 (8-14) with an OBP of .571. Considering that the one thing deserting him at the moment is some steady time on the bases, a weekend series against the Yankees would be a prime opportunity for him to get hot again and show us why he's the great hope for Wrigley's center field.
Glendon Rusch, SP
With Prior and Wood still a short while away from returning, Go-Go-Gadget Glendon needs to regain the form that eluded him against the Red Sox on Sunday. Facing perhaps the weakest (although still capable) starter over the weekend series, Rusch needs to reassert himself as a solid #4 man in the rotation and put that one bad start behind him. Despite last sunday's outing, he is 5-2 with a superb 2.57 ERA and a BAA of .259. The Yankees (hopefully) won't know what hit them.
Carl Pavano, SP
"Credit Card" Carl Pavano has been perhaps one of the biggest enigmas in the Yankees rotation this season. Coming off a Marlins all-star season, big things were expected from Carl P, and while the man has won 4 games in 14 starts, he has also lost 5 games with a less-than-All-Star 4.17 ERA. Big starts have been contrasted with disastrous ones, and while June has been fair to ol' Carl (8 ER in 17 1/3 IP, not bad compared to 20 ER in 35 IP in May), he is always prone to an awful outing.
The best example of Pavano's pitching schizophrenia is shown in the 2 starts made against the Seattle Mariners in mid-May. Only 6 days apart from one another, he managed these two baffling lines:
May 11: 4 IP, 10 H, 9 ER, 4 HR, BB, 6 K (88 pitches)
May 17: 9 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K (133 pitches)
Against the Cubs this evening, we are all hoping for a May 11 instead of a May 17.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Alex "Moneyballs" Rodriguez, despite being one of the best hitters/sluggers in the American League, has not been especially brilliant of late, saving up his HRs and RBIs for one or two games every 10 days or so. I would know given that he's the unfortunate anchor of my fantasy team and this week, he's not been all there, batting a respectable .292 but giving me only 3 RBIs, 2 extra-base hits and 4 strikeouts. Granted, he has been far from terrible this season (a team-leading .321 BA, 19 HRs and 56 RBI), but a big weekend from him might push the Yanks over the top despite a strong Cubs opponent in town.
I, like Yahoo! Sports' baseball correspondent and legend Ryne Sandberg (of course, he may be a little biased) think that the Cubs will take 2 of the 3 this weekend, most likely roughing up Credit Card and Wang.
UPN friday night for me (although there is a killer free Brooklyn concert right across the street -- Bad Plus and Charlie Hunter!), FOX saturday afternoon and YES sunday. Stay tuned, and a series round-up will most likely follow on monday (aka when the whisky wears off). Enjoy the weekend everyone, and let's go Cubbies!