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Open Thread: Cubs vs. Reds, Tuesday 9/18, 7:05 CT

How many times have we said this year that "this is the biggest regular season game of Carlos Zambrano's career"?

Without hype, tonight, without question, is the biggest.

Before discussing tonight's pitching matchup, I wanted to share some information about the "last guy on the roster", Sam Fuld, who scored the winning run in last night's game, that I received from a BCB reader in Israel:

He's the second Jew on the Cubs and an outstanding athlete from Phillips Exeter Academy and Stanford. His father, Professor Kenneth Fuld, is the head of the Psychology Department at the University of New Hampshire. As the above link states, Professor Fuld "is also interested in the phenomenon of photophobia (discomfort glare) and has a long-standing interest in the relationship of vision to baseball."

Some smart guys we have on this team!

Fun stuff: you can now vote online for your choice on what to do with Barry Bonds' 756th HR ball; the guy who bought the ball last week at auction set up the site with three choices: send it to the Hall of Fame, brand it with an asterisk, or banish it to outer space.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Zambrano
C. Zambrano
vs. Aaron Harang
A. Harang
16-12 W-L 15-4
4.14 ERA 3.65
166 SO 192
94 BB 49
22 HR 25
vs. Cin -- vs. Cubs
Aaron Harang not only is second in the NL in winning percentage and strikeouts, but he has defeated the Cubs already twice this year (2-1, 4.68 ERA, the loss being this July 28 game where Harang had to leave early because of a minor injury), and also comes early to groom the field and pitcher's mound by himself, cut the grass, take tickets, check the scoreboard so it's working properly, and rescue hundreds of stray cats roaming downtown Cincinnati.

In between those things he has been hit pretty well by Derrek Lee (12-for-32, .375/.429/.813, 2 doubles, 4 HR) and Jacque Jones (5-for-14, 1 HR).

I worry about Z, as we all do. He was stellar in his last outing on Friday, but some of the Reds (Danger! Adam Dunn! Only 11-for-48, .229, but with 6 HR, and Ken Griffey Jr., 11-for-27, .407/.500/.815, 5 doubles, a HR) hit him very hard. He has been awful against the Reds this year -- 1-3, 6.56, the only win coming on July 29 in Cincinnati, the last start of his stellar month of July. He's got to step it up tonight.

Which both pitchers will have to do in unseasonably warm and very windy weather conditions:

This Afternoon: Sunny, with a high near 88. Breezy, with a south wind around 20 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph.

Tonight: Increasing clouds, with a low around 71. South southwest wind around 15 mph.

Today's game is cable-only in the Chicago and Cincinnati markets, on EI, and at today's Mediacenter link. Gameday (2007 version) Gameday (2006 version) Gameday for the Brewers/Astros game (7:05 CT start)

Discuss amongst yourselves.