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Open Thread: Cubs vs. Pirates, Friday 5/23, 6:05 CT

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Next Game

Chicago Cubs
@ Pittsburgh Pirates

Friday, May 23, 2008, 6:05 PM CDT
PNC Park

Carlos Zambrano vs Zach Duke

Partly cloudy. Winds blowing out to center field at 5-10 m.p.h. Game Time temperature: Around 65.

Complete Coverage >


The Pirates, AGAIN?

For the 9,237th time this season, the Cubs face the Pirates. So I thought that "Welcome Back, My Friends, To The Show That Never Ends" was an appropriate metaphor for tonight's game. Seriously, by Sunday that'll make 12 of the first 50 Cub games in 2008 against one team. Does that make ANY sense?

Don't answer that question. We all know the answer.

Before you tackle tonight's game preview, check out this article by Pat Jordan on Slate, which accurately depicts the difference between athletes decades ago and those today:

Writers and fans alike no longer get to know the object of their affections in a way they did years ago. Athletes see us as their adversaries, not as allies in their achievements. They are as much celebrities as rock stars and Hollywood actors are. They live insular lives behind a wall of publicists, agents, and lawyers. They don't interact with fans or writers. They mingle only with other celebrities at Vegas boxing matches, South Beach nightclubs, and celebrity golf events, all behind red-velvet VIP ropes. We can only gawk at them as if at an exotic, endangered species at a zoo.Baseball Prospectus still has the Cubs ranked #1:The Cubs' lead atop the NL Central tightens up as they drop a series to the Astros, but both PECOTA and their run differential suggest there's little reason to panic. The offense is cranking out 5.7 runs per game, tops in the majors, and they're getting above-average production at every position except center field, with five positions putting up a .400 OBP or above. Alfonso Soriano isn't among that quintet, but his 21-for-44 performance, including seven homers in six games, is a big reason for the team's recent 9-2 run. Now, on to tonight's rematch of last Saturday's game, the only one the Cubs have lost to the Pirates this year.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Zambrano
C. Zambrano
Cubs
vs. Zach Duke
Z. Duke
Pirates
6-1 W-L 2-2
2.45 ERA 4.23
46 SO 20
19 BB 19
4 HR 2
vs. Pit -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2008 - Carlos Zambrano 6-1 10 10 0 0 0 0 66.0 60 19 18 4 19 46 2.45 1.20


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2008 - Zach Duke 2-2 9 9 0 0 0 0 55.1 69 28 26 2 19 20 4.23 1.59

For all the Z and Duke matchups, see the game thread from last Saturday, when they last pitched against each other. Z, for his part, says he's fine, says the stiffness in his neck was from "sleeping wrong" and he has told everyone:

"My shoulder's fine," Zambrano said. "I'll show you Friday."OK, Z. We'll be watching.

Today's game is on cable in the Chicago and Pittsburgh areas, on EI, and at the MLB.com Mediacenter.

MLB.com Gameday (2007 version)

MLB.com Gameday (2008 version)

Baseball-reference.com game preview

Today's overflow comment thread will post at 7:30 pm CT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.