Ah, yes! It's been too long. I know the Chicago Cubs were here back in the beginning of May, but I think it's fair to say that Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals fans alike are as hungry for this series as they are for some barbecue this weekend.
about the Mets and Giants; it's game time in
To guide you through your weekend and help you gear up what should be a spectacular series, I have 10 questions for you to consider:
Cubs fans are rather thirsty after a 100-year struggle through the World Series Championship-less desert. And they're excited about this club that's currently leading the National League. When a Fourth of July holiday weekend in St. Louis popped up on the schedule, there's no doubt Cubbie fans from around the country started packing their bags for a three-day, divisional showdown in St. Louis. Did Cardinals fans give up their tickets to brokers, who sold them at top dollar to blue invaders? Or will the Cardinal Nation stand their ground, come out in droves, and give their team a red-clad home field advantage like they usually do?
hearts are still breaking across
3. Can Carlos Zambrano continue his good run against the Cardinals?
has some solid numbers against the Redbirds. Last season he went 3-0 with a 1.69
ERA and in 18 starts over his career he is 8-4 with a 2.37 ERA. The times the
Cards have beaten him have come in close pitching duels. With Braden Looper on the mound Friday night, the series will kick off with a bang as
Looper has the exact same career ERA (2.37) against the Cubs. The result could
set the tone for an action-packed holiday weekend. If Zambrano gets rattled,
keep an eye on his interaction with
4. Can the Cardinals solve the mystery that is the "soft-tossing lefty"?
There's something about lefties with fastballs in the 86-93 mph-range that makes Cardinals bats shrivel up and wilt. And it's so well-known that Cubs skipper Lou Piniella altered his rotation a bit, pinning back-to-back soft-tossing lefties against the Cardinals Saturday and Sunday. First, it's Ted Lilly in Saturday's game and then recent Triple-A call-up Sean Marshall in the series finale. If the Cubs still had Glendon Rusch, they'd probably let him take the mound too.
5. Will either Lou Piniella or Tony La Russa get ejected this weekend?
Both managers have a tendency to get steamed on the bench, particularly in big series. Though the duo are quite friendly and most certainly will keep their distance from each other, that's not necessarily the case with the umpiring crew. With a young Cardinals team playing about as well as can be expected facing their biggest series of the year, you can bet La Russa is going to show his team he's got their back if calls start to go against them. As for his counterpart, well, "Sweet" Lou can go sour faster than flood waters busting through a levy. And hey, what's a Fourth of July weekend without a little fireworks, right?
Speaking of fireworks, will the game Friday night be affected by
game starts at 7:15pm CT Friday night. Fair
7. Will we escape the weekend without any InBev references?
The Anheuser-Busch board of directors
recently passed on a buyout bid from
8. What will happen in the battle of the ex-teammates?
Jim Edmonds and Todd Wellemeyer will
get to face their former teams. While
9. Will long ball or small ball win out?
Is it going to be a weekend of singles, stolen bases, sacrifices, and suicide squeezes, or are the big red wiffle ball bats going to come out and play? Both teams have speed, good fundamentals, and power hitting, so we could no doubt get a balance all weekend long. But knowing how things go historically when these two clubs hook up, don't be surprised if Ryan Theriot goes yard and Yadier Molina lays down a bunt single and steals second base… OK, that one might be a stretch.
10. What will the standings look like in the NL Central come Monday morning?
51-35, the Cubs remain atop the NL Central division with the Cardinals hanging
tough at 49-28, just 2.5 games back. Both teams are coming off losses where they
were routed Thursday night. But the momentum is no doubt with the Cardinals as
the Cubs have dropped seven of their last 10 games. Barring any rainouts, we
have four possibilities. Yes, there is a chance that with a sweep the Cards
could find themselves perched atop the division by a half game. Otherwise, the
Cubbies will be leaving
Have a happy and safe Fourth of July, and enjoy the games!
Got a question or comment? Send Pete an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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