The Cubs had a miserable time at Dolphin Stadium this week, getting swept in a three-game series by the Florida Marlins. The Cubs’ experiences in the brief history of Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park have been much more pleasant.
The Cubs had a miserable time at Dolphin Stadium this week, getting swept in a three-game series by the Florida Marlins.
The Cubs’ experiences in the brief history of Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park have been much more pleasant. They are hoping for more good times in the Queen City this weekend, with a chance to clinch the National League Central crown.
“I’ll tell you one thing; we’re going to have to play a hell of a lot better there than we did here,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. “We need to post a win. It’s as obvious as hell. We had a (four-game win) streak and then a downturn. Now we can do something about it.”
Just four games after the new Cincinnati park opened for business in 2003, then-Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa made history by hitting his 500th career home run.
On April 3, 2006, the Cubs opened the season in the park by whipping the Reds 16-7.
That came shortly after the team got to meet President George W. Bush, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
This year, Piniella earned his first victory as Cubs manager there April 4 when the North Siders beat the Reds 4-1.
“If we win three in Cincinnati, all of this talk (about a potential collapse) is (moot),” Piniella said.
The Cubs are 20-19 at GABC all-time, including a 3-3 mark this year.
The Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano (17-13, 4.08 ERA) will oppose Cincinnati’s Bronson Arroyo (9-14, 4.22) tonight. Rich Hill (10-8, 4.05) is scheduled to start for the Cubs on Saturday against the Reds’ Aaron Harang (16-5, 3.70). Ted Lilly (15-8, 3.86) is slated to start for the Cubs in Sunday’s series finale against Reds rookie Homer Bailey (3-2, 5.67).
If the Cubs clinch before Sunday, they likely would skip Lilly and use either Sean Marshall or Kevin Hart and save the veteran for the playoffs.
Zambrano is 1-4 with a 6.59 ERA against the Reds this year.
Cubs fans? Mellow?
Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist Ethan J. Skolnick wrote in Thursday’s edition about how the Cubs winning a World Series would be like Charlie Brown finally kicking the football or Wile E. Coyote finally catching the Roadrunner.
He wrote that the Cubs would lose some of their appeal and would “morph into just another mediocre organization ... distinguished only by primitive latrines and an eternal rotation spot for Steve Trachsel.”
Markham native Cliff Floyd, a Cubs outfielder, was asked in the column what life would be like in 2008 if the Cubs did win that elusive title.
“That city would flip the script,” Floyd said. “You’d come to Wrigley Field, have a beer (and) don’t care less if you lose 162 games. ... When you come back to Wrigley, you’ll see the calmest, most peaceful people you have seen in your life.”
Hmmmmm. Let the debate begin on that one.
Reliever Kerry Wood inherited a messy bases-loaded, no-out situation courtesy of Scott Eyre when he entered Thursday’s 6-4 loss in the sixth inning. Wood struck out pinch-hitter Jason Wood and coaxed Hanley Ramirez to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Wood got into a jam of his own in the seventh, but induced Mike Jacobs to hit into a double play to end the inning.
The Cubs fireballer has not allowed a run in his last 8 2/3 innings.
Catcher Henry Blanco came into the game in the seventh inning. It’s the first time he caught since Aug. 31. ... Outfielder Daryle Ward has a sprained left thumb and had it in a splint on Thursday. His availability for the Reds series is unknown ... The Cubs have 1,190 strikeouts and are likely going to lead the major leagues in that department for a seventh straight season. Heading into Thursday's play, the Cubs were 20 whiffs ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers. ... The Cubs have 332 doubles, which is the second most in a season in club history. They had 340 in 1931.
-- Daily Southtown