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Open Thread: Cubs vs. Nationals, Saturday 4/26, 6:10 CT

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Chicago Cubs
@ Washington Nationals

Saturday, Apr 26, 2008, 6:10 PM CDT
Nationals Park

Carlos Zambrano vs Matt Chico

Mostly cloudy with a 80-percent chance of rain. Winds blowing out to center field at 5-10 m.p.h. Game Time temperature: Around 75.

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Chicago Cubs @ Washington Nationals

04/26/08 6:10 PM CDT

Chicago Cubs Washington Nationals
Reed Johnson - CF Felipe Lopez - 2B
Ryan Theriot - SS Cristian Guzman - SS
Derrek Lee - 1B Ryan Zimmerman - 3B
Aramis Ramirez - 3B Nick Johnson - 1B
Kosuke Fukudome - RF Lastings Milledge - CF
Mark DeRosa - LF Austin Kearns - RF
Geovany Soto - C Johnny Estrada - C
Ronny Cedeno - 2B Wily Mo Pena - LF
Carlos Zambrano - P Matt Chico - P

Just win, baby. (Thought I'd put that football-related phrase in here on the day of the NFL draft.)

It's interesting, isn't it, how we react to a two-game losing streak, after all the winning. Feels strange, doesn't it? I'm guessing it does to the players, too.

Geovany Soto is working on his footwork in order to improve his skills at throwing out basestealers.

As noted in the game box above, the storms that rolled through the Chicago area last night are expected to hit the Washington area tonight. Here's the more detailed forecast:

Tonight: Showers and thunderstorms before midnight, then a chance of showers. Low around 58. East wind 6 to 9 mph becoming north. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms. This Wall Street Journal article, appearing yesterday, discusses some of the "unusual" strategies some managers are using lately, including Ned Yost's and Tony LaRussa's batting the pitcher 8th and Bobby Cox's recent swapping of Chris Resop to the OF for one batter so he could get a LOOGY in the game (which the Braves lost anyway). I'd have to draw the line, though, at this proposal:

But if [Brewers GM Doug] Melvin had his way, the Brewers organization might be even more progressive. He has another counterintuitive idea: using relievers to start the game, and delaying the "starting" pitcher's entrance until the third inning or so. The thinking is that starters are typically among a team's best pitchers, yet nowadays they often pitch only through the fifth or sixth inning, well before many games are decided. By having them pitch later, they'd be around for the higher-leverage innings.Um, no. First problem: what "starting" pitcher would agree to do that? He'd rarely have a chance for a win, since the current rules say a starter has to go five innings to qualify. Also -- would you really want a tiring "starter" going in the 8th or 9th inning? Or would you rather have a fresh body? I'm going with the latter.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Zambrano
C. Zambrano
vs. Matt Chico
M. Chico
3-1 W-L 0-4
2.67 ERA 6.04
27 SO 17
5 BB 10
2 HR 6
vs. Was -- vs. Cubs

2008 - Carlos Zambrano 3-1 5 5 0 0 0 0 33.2 32 10 10 2 5 27 2.67 1.10

2008 - Matt Chico 0-4 5 5 0 0 0 0 28.1 34 19 19 6 10 17 6.04 1.55

This looks like a mismatch if you only look at this year's numbers -- and Matt Chico has been bad in all but one of his five starts this year -- but Chico threw seven shutout innings against the Cubs last July 4 in DC, allowing only four hits (singles by Rich Hill, Aramis Ramirez and Mark DeRosa, and a double to Ryan Theriot). So let's consider that "practice", and tee off on this guy tonight.

Z is 5-2, 3.42 in ten career appearances (eight starts) vs. the Nats/Expos franchise. He hasn't lost to them since May 14, 2005, the second game the Cubs played the Nats in DC after their move to Washington. Z has been solid all year, especially with his control (5 walks in 33.2 IP). Expect to see Rob Mackowiak in the starting lineup for Washington again tonight, as he has pounded Z in his career (.306/.419/.556, 11-for-36, 4 doubles, a triple, a HR, and 7 walks). Last night's Nats hero, Wil Nieves, might also play -- he's 2-for-2 lifetime against Z.

Today's game is cable in Chicago on CSN, on cable in the Beltway on MASN, and at the Mediacenter. Gameday (2007 version) Gameday (2008 version) game preview

For the Nats fan's view of this game, check out the SBN Nats site Federal Baseball.

Tonight's overflow comment thread will post at 7:45 pm CT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.