Open Thread: Cubs vs. Reds, Tuesday 8/14, 7:05 CT

I was going to do a separate headline post this morning and then put the game thread up this afternoon, but doesn't it seem like forever since the Cubs played a game?

That being the case, here's the game thread, which will have to last you all day and evening, and a few samples of this morning's headlines:

The Cubs have lost their swagger, Mike Downey says. His solution:

A report that Scott Podsednik might cross enemy lines from South to North Side was a tantalizing one, given that the last thing the Cubs would seem to need is another player with a history of injuries. Yet there is a gap to fill with Soriano sidelined, so Podsednik could be an experienced temp at a fair price.
Guess Downey didn't read the papers over the weekend. That deal was declared dead two days ago, and good riddance, too.

Meanwhile, Bruce Miles writes about Lou Piniella's learning curve and why it took two months for a talented team to get going:

As much as it took Piniella time to figure out what he had, the players had to adjust to a new manager. Gone was the laid-back, coddling style of Dusty Baker. In was the blunt and brutally honest approach of Piniella.

The clubhouse over the first two months of the season was a place filled with uncertainty, as players wondered whether they’d be playing or worrying they’d be on the boss’ bad side.

Once they figured that out -- and personnel changes were made -- two months of good ball followed. Ryan Dempster knows why:
Roles and lineups seemed to change daily in the first half. Dempster admits there might have been a method to Piniella’s madness.

"Keeps you motivated," he said.

Exactly.

Carol Slezak reminds us how many things have gone wrong this year:

Remember when Alfonso Soriano was a bust? And Carlos Zambrano was horrible? And Michael Barrett was behind the plate, and no one wanted to pitch to him? And Piniella seemed more confused by the day? A lot has changed since then.

Remember when Wood was on the disabled list? And Cesar Izturis was the shortstop? And Carlos Marmol was in Iowa? And Ryan Theriot was a backup? And Jacque Jones was on the trading block? Despite their recent slide, the Cubs are far better today than they were in April and May. They have played fabulously well in stretches. And if they were to get hot at the right time -- say, in October? -- talk about good fortune.

Onward to tonight's matchup...
Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Zambrano
C. Zambrano
Cubs
vs. Aaron Harang
A. Harang
Reds
14-8 W-L 11-3
3.69 ERA 3.37
139 SO 146
75 BB 41
20 HR 13
vs. Cin -- vs. Cubs
... which is a rematch of a rematch. Unusual in modern baseball with five-man rotations and starters swinging back and forth between minors and majors, this will be the third matchup between Z and Harang this season. Harang won 5-1 on Opening Day in Cincinnati; eleven days later Z homered off Harang, but the Reds hit Z hard and beat him 6-5 when Z couldn't hold a 5-0 lead; also, on July 28 in Cincinnati, Harang left the game early with back problems, and the Cubs pounded five Reds relievers and won 8-1, in a game started by Sean Marshall.

Lifetime, Harang is 6-2, but with a 4.42 ERA, in 12 starts vs. the Cubs; Z is 9-7, 3.20 in 24 games (20 starts) vs. the Reds. Adam Dunn has hit Z hard (6 HR in 45 AB); Derrek Lee, who we'd like to see get going already, is 11-for-29 (.379/.438/.759, two doubles, 3 HR) against Harang. Matt Murton has also hit 2 HR off Harang in 13 career AB.

Finally, if you haven't yet voted in the new front-page poll, the "Where are you?" poll, please do. I'd like to know where BCB readers live!

Tonight's game is cable-only, also on Extra Innings; here is today's Mediacenter link.

MLB.com Gameday (2007 version)

MLB.com Gameday (2006 version)

MLB.com Gameday for the Brewers/Cardinals game

And even though they profess to not liking Cubs fans very much, check out our SB Nation colleagues at Red Reporter.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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