Cubs vs. San Diego Padres

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The Cubs and Padres have certainly played some memorable head-to-head matchup's over the years in the beautiful city of San Diego, however this year will be different than years past.

Cubs: (Overall: 19-15; Road: 9-9)
Padres: (Overall: 21-14; Home: 13-6)

For starters, both clubs are playing competitive baseball and well within striking distance of first place in their respective divisions. This is a far cry from years past when one or both clubs would be staring up at their respective division's leaders going into head-to-head play.

For another, gone is the Cubs' house of horrors known as Qualcomm/Jack Murphy Stadium, replaced by the the new, spiffy Petco Park, where hte Padres have won over 2/3 of their games this season.

Lastly, gone are the Padres' traditional white and navy blue team colors, replaced by a new beige and royal blue combination.

This year's Padres ball club is geared primarily toward pitching this season, trailing only the Philadelphia Phillies for the best overall ERA in baseball.

The Cubs will be fortunate enough to avoid facing 22-year-old right-hander Jake Peavy, whose 2.08 ERA in eight starts leads the Padres' rotation and ranks fourth in all of baseball (Carlos Zambrano's 1.82 mark ranks first).

Offensively, much like the Cubs, the Padres have often had problems scoring runs. Entering play this weekend, San Diego is hitting just two points better as a team than the Cubs, at .270 for the year.

They are led by a plethora of good hitters, however. Third baseman Sean Burroughs, who is putting together a great season in his third year on the major league circuit, leads the team in batting average with a .328 mark. Meanwhile, outfielder Brian Giles leads the San Diego power attack, hitting a team-best six homeruns to go with a .373 on-base percentage.

Second baseman Mark Loretta is also off to a great start. In 35 games, Loretta is batting .317 with four homers and a team-high 10 doubles. Loretta and Giles are tied with the team lead in RBIs with 21 apiece.

So let's check off:

New stadium: Check.
New uniforms: Check.
New lineup: Check.
Better results: Check.

Here is a look at the probable pitching matchup's in the series.

Friday, May 14, 9:05 CT: Greg Maddux (2-3, 5.06) vs. Ismael Valdez (3-1, 3.90) - Fox Sports Chicago

Overall, Greg Maddux has thrown the ball pretty well for the Cubs in seven starts. Outside of a rare homerun by the opposing pitcher, Maddux pitched well enough for a win in his last start on Saturday against Colorado. Lifetime against the Padres, Maddux has thrown the ball very well, winning 21 games and posting a 2.99 ERA. This will be his 40th career start versus San Diego.

After struggling with the Texas Rangers all throughout 2003, 30-year-old right-hander Ismael Valdez has seemingly resurrected his career in a Padres uniform this season. Valdez has won three of four decisions while posting a respectable 3.91 ERA.

Saturday, May 15, 9:05 CT: Sergio Mitre (1-2, 5.01) vs. Adam Eaton (1-3, 4.68) - WGN

Sergio Mitre has been up and down in six starts this season. Mitre threw the ball exceptionally well his last time out, giving up three runs in six innings against the Colorado Rockies in a no-decision. Mitre has pitched well on the road this season, with a 3.63 ERA in three starts.

Right-hander Adam Eaton has struggled in seven starts this season, posting a 4.68 ERA and averaging around six innings per start. Eaton has been a pretty tough customer lifetime against the Cubs, however, going 2-1 with a 3.68 ERA.

Sunday, May 16, 3:05 CT: Glendon Rusch (0-1, 7.36) vs. David Wells (2-3, 3.68) - Fox Sports Chicago

Veteran left-hander Glendon Rusch will get the start in Kerry Wood's absence Sunday. Since being promoted from AAA, Rusch has been roughed up in three appearances out of the Cubs' bullpen. Wood is only scheduled to miss one start at the moment.

Another veteran southpaw, David Wells, will get the nod in game three for San Diego. Since being signed in the off-season, Wells has pitched pretty well in seven starts with an ERA of 3.68, but has been victimized by a lack of run support and is just 2-3 on the year. Lifetime against the Cubs in two starts, Wells has averaged less than four innings per start, posting a 4.70 ERA in that span.

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