Open Thread: Cubs vs. Cardinals, Friday 8/17, 1:20 CT

UPDATE [2007-8-17 9:04:33 by Al]: The Cubs will announce at a news conference later this morning that Carlos Zambrano has signed a five-year contract extension. Discuss further here or in this diary. Estimated total deal: $90 million. Good news to start off this big weekend!!

Lou Piniella, who isn't always the most articulate of human beings, said it best:

"We're not done making noise yet," Piniella said. "Right now it's a struggle. It really is a struggle. But what can you do? We're fortunate that the team in front of us has struggled at the same time. And now you've got the team behind us coming in here, and we've got a chance to slow them down a little bit here, so we'll see what happens."
Exactly right. The time for talk is over. Win this series and good things will follow. Go Cubs!
Today's Starting Pitchers
Rich Hill
R. Hill
Cubs
vs. Braden Looper
B. Looper
Cardinals
6-7 W-L 10-9
3.85 ERA 5.08
128 SO 62
48 BB 38
23 HR 15
vs. StL -- vs. Cubs
Rich Hill has been up and down all season. After throwing really well against Houston to lead off the last road trip (in a game the Cubs lost because they couldn't score more than one run), he got pounded in Colorado. He's not the first, nor will he be the last, pitcher to have that done to him. He has no decisions in three lifetime appearances (two starts) vs. the Cardinals, including this fine performance last August 26 in St. Louis in a game the bullpen lost. Cardinals backup catcher Gary Bennett homered off Hill that day; the only other current Cardinal to homer off Hill is Juan Encarnacion, who hasn't played since August 8 and isn't likely to play today, or even in this series.

Braden Looper, somehow, is 10-9 despite that ugly-looking 5.08 ERA. Take away his two starts against the Cubs this year, both of which he's won while allowing only one run in seven innings, and his ERA in his other twenty appearances is 5.54.

One of Looper's career nemeses is Jason Kendall, who is .538/.571/.692 against him (7-for-13, two doubles, and 2-for-4 when the Cubs faced Looper on July 26 in St. Louis).

The Cub offense has awakened this week; the Cardinals' pitching staff, with a 4.66 team ERA (11th in the league) and 596 total runs allowed (12th) is nearly as bad as the Reds'. Keep those bats going!

Once again, today's game is more-or-less nationally available on WGN (of this series, only the Monday afternoon game won't be on some national network -- otherwise here is today's Mediacenter link.

MLB.com Gameday (2007 version)

MLB.com Gameday (2006 version)

I'll post a Gameday link for tonight's Brewers/Reds game in the game recap this afternoon. And if you'd like to talk about this game with some Cardinal fans -- good people -- check out our SB Nation site Viva El Birdos.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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