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Pregame Thread: Cubs vs. Giants, Monday 6/30, 9:15 CT

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Chicago Cubs
@ San Francisco Giants

Monday, Jun 30, 2008, 9:15 PM CDT
AT&T Park

Ted Lilly vs Barry Zito

Partly cloudy. Winds blowing out to center field at 10-15 m.p.h. Game Time temperature: Near 60.

Complete Coverage >

"Partly cloudy". Thank heavens. At least the Cubs won't be dodging raindrops, as they have for most of the last ten days.

Now, a little perspective. We are one game into the second half, a loss (the Cubs also lost the first game of the season and three of the first four, for a little more perspective). Let's say I had told you, after that Opening Day loss, that:

  • Alfonso Soriano was going to suffer two major injuries and would miss more than 30 games;
  • Only Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster would be consistent starters;
  • Derrek Lee would be leading the majors in GIDP;
  • And, the Cubs were going to unceremoniously dump one of their top prospects, Felix Pie, and replace him with a detested arch-rival who had hit .178 for another team before being unconditionally released.

Why, you'd probably have said the Cubs would be floundering around in third or fourth place, right? Of course, I'm cherry-picking stats to make a point, which is that most everything has actually gone right with the Cubs so far this year; they maintain a 2.5 game lead despite losing eight of their last twelve games. For some historical perspective on recent World Champions, see cocknfire's FanPost on the topic.

That said, this team has struggled on the road. A winning road trip -- even 4-3 -- would go a long way toward steadying the ship until the banged-up can return.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Ted Lilly
T. Lilly
vs. Barry Zito
B. Zito
8-5 W-L 3-11
4.74 ERA 5.91
95 SO 44
36 BB 48
18 HR 8
vs. SF -- vs. Cubs

2008 - Ted Lilly 8-5 17 17 0 0 0 0 98.2 94 55 52 18 36 95 4.74 1.32

2008 - Barry Zito 3-11 16 16 0 0 0 0 80.2 99 60 53 8 48 44 5.91 1.82

Barry Zito has had a horrendous year. There's no sugarcoating it, and the 3-11, 5.91 numbers are well-deserved -- note that he really doesn't strike out people any more, having walked more than he's K'd. He's been good against the Cubs in his career, and was 1-1, 1.80 in two starts vs. the Cubs last year, but that was then and this is now. The walk totals should be good for the patient Cubs; if they can wait him out they should score. Derrek Lee is 5-for-8 with a HR lifetime against Zito, who may be among the worst free-agent signings ever.

Ted Lilly, after a poor start, is 7-1, 3.97 in his last 11 starts, with 23 BB and 70 K in 68 innings; this is in line with what he did last year, though the 14 HR in those 11 starts is a bit alarming. He's pitching in a good pitcher's park tonight; he's got a 6.08 ERA lifetime vs. the Giants, but most of that was in 2003 or earlier, when he was with Oakland and the Yankees. Last year, he was the winning pitcher in a 9-8 Cubs win at Wrigley Field. Of the current Giants, Aaron Rowand hits him the hardest (.375/.444/.563, 6-for-16, 1 HR).

Today's game is on CSN Plus -- CLTV in Chicago, which is also channel 174 on Comcast (in the city, at least) for the HD telecast. Otherwise it's EI or the Mediacenter. Gameday (2007 version) Gameday (2008 version) game preview

Today's first pitch thread will post just about the exact time of the scheduled first pitch -- 9:15 pm CT. The overflow comment threads will post at 10:15 pm and 11:15 pm CT, for you night owls (I have to go to sleep for work and won't see much of this game).

Discuss amongst yourselves.