The Calm After The Storm: Cubs vs. Padres, Thursday 5/14, 1:20 CT

The Cubs are 19-14 after 33 games of what seems like daily turmoil; after 33 games last year they were ... 19-14. They can move into a first-place tie today if they win and the Brewers and Cardinals lose; they'd be 20-14, tied with the Reds, who have the day off. Sunshine and blue skies await the Cubs and Padres this afternoon.

Many of us wondered during the offseason why Henry Blanco, who did a good job for four years as the Cubs' backup catcher, wasn't re-signed to a new deal for 2009. Paul Sullivan found out that Henry was puzzled, too:

"You're asking the wrong guy," Blanco said. "I don't know either. We did everything we could, but it didn't happen. I'm here now. It's a bit different, but that's the name of the game. I did everything I could, but it happens."

So no hard feelings?

Blanco paused a second.

"Not really," he finally replied. "I still have a job. Of course I miss these guys a lot, but I have to get used to my new team now."

The article goes on to say that Blanco hopes to manage when his career is over. I hope it's in the Cubs organization. He strikes me as the kind of guy who will make an excellent coach or manager. While Koyie Hill has done a good job backing up Geovany Soto, it's possible that Blanco not being here -- he was an outstanding mentor to Soto the last couple of years -- might be one reason for Geo's slow start.

Carlos Zambrano threw in the bullpen yesterday without incident and will make a minor league rehab start for Daytona; it will either be on Saturday at Clearwater or Sunday at Dunedin. If all goes well -- and there doesn't seem to be any reason it wouldn't -- he'll return to the major league rotation a week from tomorrow, Friday, May 22 at San Diego.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ryan Dempster
Ryan Dempster
Cubs
vs. Chad Gaudin
Chad Gaudin
Padres
2-2 W-L 0-2
4.98 ERA 4.08
41 SO 15
19 BB 10
6 HR 0
vs. SD -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Ryan Dempster 2-2 7 7 0 0 0 0 43.1 41 25 24 6 19 41 4.98 1.38


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Chad Gaudin 0-2 3 3 0 0 0 0 17.2 16 8 8 0 10 15 4.08 1.47

Mr. Weird Chin Hair, Chad Gaudin, will be making his first start against the team that unceremoniously dumped him at the end of spring training. Only a handful of Cubs have ever faced him -- Aaron Miles is 3-for-5 against him. Gaudin hasn't allowed a homer in his three starts this year -- the wind is supposed to be blowing out to right field today, so maybe a couple of the Cubs' lefthanded hitters can change that stat. Patience will help -- Gaudin has walked 10 in 17.2 innings. (Chad looks a little pixellated because the only photo I could find of him in a SD cap is a little smaller than the size I usually use in the pitcher box, so I had to expand it to fit.)

This isn't an excuse, but as you can imagine, the fact that his new baby has serious health problems may be weighing on Ryan Dempster's mind and thus, his performance so far this year. He has gone at least six innings in all seven of his starts so far, and is 6-3, 3.82 lifetime vs. San Diego. Brian Giles has owned him -- 16-for-36 (.444) with 4 doubles, a triple and 2 HR.

Today's game is on CSN only -- no San Diego TV. For today's other games see the MLB.com Mediacenter.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Overflow comment threads will post today at 2:15 pm, 3:15 pm and 4 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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