The first matchup of the year between these two longtime rivals finds the Cubs a half-game behind the Cardinals, who surprisingly are in first place. Not many would have expected St. Louis to even go this far with a winning record, given the shape of their pitching staff. I still think it's being done with mirrors, but we shall see.
The Soriano At Leadoff Controversy: Rick Morrissey says get him out of there:A good leadoff hitter has an on-base percentage at least approaching .400. Soriano's lifetime OBP is .326. Before he got hurt, the number this season was .230. He is so miscast in the leadoff spot he would make Vanna White in "The English Patient" seem like a good idea.[Reed] Johnson, who led off 10 times in Soriano's absence, has an on-base percentage of .379.
Soriano went 0-for-4 Thursday, which is not a big deal. The Cubs had just activated him from the disabled list and he was rusty. But that doesn't excuse his lack of patience at the plate. He put the ball in play when the counts were 0-1, 1-2, 1-1 and 1-0.
"It doesn't matter" what the count is, he said. "I play seven years, and that's my game. I'm very aggressive at home plate. I don't have to change nothing because the manager didn't say nothing to me."
The manager needs to say something. Then he needs to do something. Take Soriano's power and put it to use somewhere else in the lineup. If it's not too much for Soriano's ego, Piniella should bat him sixth or seventh in the order.
I'm not usually a big fan of Morrissey, but he's got this one right, except for the replacement. Reed Johnson didn't hit well while leading off while Soriano was out. Kosuke Fukudome is an ideal leadoff man -- once you get out of the "speedy leadoff guy" mindset. The most important thing for a leadoff man is getting on base. Yes, I know I'm preaching to the choir here.
|Today's Starting Pitchers|
|2008 - Rich Hill||1-0||4||4||0||0||0||0||19.0||13||8||8||2||14||14||3.79||1.42|
|2008 - Adam Wainwright||3-1||5||5||1||0||0||0||38.2||30||13||12||4||9||28||2.79||1.01|
Rich Hill hasn't pitched in nine days, due to the off day on Monday, and faces a team against which he has had some success -- 1-0, 3.12 in three career starts. Albert Pujols has homered off Hill, but all told he is only 2-for-8 against Hill.
Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals' best pitcher, has been beaten like the proverbial drum by the Cubs -- four starts last year, and the Cubs went 3-0 against him, and Wainwright piled up an 8.72 ERA. The primary pounders were Aramis Ramirez (7-for-18, 3 doubles, a HR, .389/.421/.722) and Ryan Theriot (6-for-13).
I know there are many here who visit the SBN Cardinals site Viva El Birdos and vice versa, and Larry, the proprietor, runs a first-class site and I always like the respect that I think fans of both teams have for this rivalry. If you go there tonight, have fun, but play nice. Go Cubs!
You can see tonight's game nationally on WGN, in the St. Louis market area on their FSN, and at the MLB.com Mediacenter.
MLB.com Gameday (2007 version)
MLB.com Gameday (2008 version)
Today's overflow comment thread will post at 8:45 pm CT.
Discuss amongst yourselves.