Inside The Ivy: Cubs vs. Anaheim Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif. - When the Chicago Cubs (31-28) and Anaheim Angels (34-25) meet Friday for an inaugural interleague series at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, one must wonder how this series would shape up if both sides were 100% healthy.

2003 All-Star MVP Garret Anderson was activated from the 15-day disabled list Thursday for the Angels, while the Cubs recently just had Mark Prior and Kent Mercker return to action with Sammy Sosa, Mark Grudzielanek and others likely headed back soon as well.

Anaheim slugger Vladimir Guerrero (.345, 15 HR, 51 RBI) is the runaway American League MVP favorite in his first season away from the NL. If both of these two clubs are healthy and playing as well as capable, there is a good chance they could meet again for much higher stakes in October.

Friday, June 11, 9:05 CT: Greg Maddux (5-4, 4.13 ERA) vs. John Lackey (3-7, 5.64 ERA) - WGN

John Lackey does not have overpowering stuff, and will give up a lot of hits (73 in 67 innings pitched so far). Lackey was the Chicago White Sox lackey (pardon the pun) in his last start, giving up eight runs in just three innings.

Greg Maddux has been simply magnificient in his last two starts. On Sunday against Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field, the right-hander allowed only one run on four hits in seven innings in a victorious winning effort against the battling Buccos.

Saturday, June 12, 9:05 CT: Glendon Rusch (2-1, 3.99 ERA) vs. Bartolo Colon (4-4, 6.00 ERA) - Fox Sports Chicago

Any other year, this would appear to be a somewhat lopsided matchup in favor of the Angels. Not the case when you look at the way these two pitchers have performed this season, however. Everyone expected Bartolo Colon to be the ace of this Angels staff when he was signed to a lucrative contract this past off-season. But Colon has been very inconsistent, and to this point, a bust. He has given up 83 hits in just 69 innings for a H/9 ratio of 10.82.

The Cubs' only hope for left-hander Glendon Rusch on the other hand was to keep them in games long enough for injured ace Kerry Wood to return. But Rusch has done a very admirable job in every start so far. This will be his sixth of the season.

Sunday, June 13, 3:05 CT: Matt Clement (7-4, 3.28 ERA) vs. Kelvim Escobar (4-2, 3.34) - WGN

You will not find too many pitchers with better pure stuff than those in this game. Kelvim Escobar used to be the closer in Toronto, but made the transition to starter quickly, and well. He has a mid-90's fastball to go with a nasty breaking ball and very good splitter.

After struggling in two previous starts, Matt Clement was terrific in his last start, as he gave up just three runs in eight innings to beat the St. Louis Cardinals for the third time this season last week. It will be fun to watch Clement against Vladimir Guerrero since the Anaheim slugger is often overagressive in the batters box.

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