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Honoring Cubs Greats: Cubs vs. Marlins, Sunday 5/3, 1:20 CT

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The Cubs have retired four numbers in their history -- prior to today, when they will run #31 up the flagpole to honor Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux, who both wore it for the Cubs with great distinction. The following is excerpted from "Cubs By The Numbers"; if this whets your appetite (shameless promotion: I hope it does) and you have not yet ordered your copy, you can click that link and do it right now!

Here are the results of the four previous games with Cubs number retirement ceremonies, three of which resulted in wins and the fourth, a loss, was played mostly by bench players for a very good reason:

August 22, 1982, #14 retired for Ernie Banks: defeated the Padres, 8-7, in front of a modest crowd of 23,601; the Padres blew a 5-0 lead but the Cubs had to call on closer Lee Smith in the 9th with the tying run on base to save it. Two players in the game – Cubs Larry Bowa and Bill Buckner – had played against Ernie in the early 1970’s.

August 13, 1987, #26 retired for Billy Williams: defeated the Mets, 7-5, in front of a larger-than-usual weekday crowd of 35,033 (the reasons they chose a Thursday for this ceremony are lost to the mists of time). As in Ernie’s ceremony game, the visitors blew a 5-0 lead, and once again, Smith was summoned with two out in the ninth – this time, he nearly blew the game, loading the bases on two singles and a walk before striking out Dave Magadan to end it. Irony: Billy was traded for, among others, Manny Trillo, who pinch-hit in this game.

September 28, 2003, #10 retired for Ron Santo: Santo’s emotional speech, in which he said, "THIS is my Hall of Fame", came prior to a meaningless game, the last of the 2003 regular season. The Cubs had clinched the NL Central the day before and though a handful of regulars started, they were all lifted by the middle innings. The sub Cubs blew a 2-0 lead and lost to the Pirates 3-2 in front of 39,940.

August 28, 2005, #23 retired for Ryne Sandberg: Just a few weeks after his stirring Hall of Fame induction speech, Sandberg’s number was run up the right field flagpole before 38,763 on a gorgeous afternoon. The Cubs’ play was beautiful, too – they demolished the Marlins 14-3, including two homers from Derrek Lee.

So the Cubs once again play the Marlins on a day when a uniform number will be retired. The same result as four years ago would be nice, including the D-Lee performance.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Zambrano
Cubs
vs. Ricky Nolasco
Ricky Nolasco
Marlins
2-1 W-L 1-2
4.64 ERA 6.92
30 SO 22
13 BB 9
4 HR 2
vs. Fla -- vs. Cubs

W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Carlos Zambrano 2-1 8 5 0 0 0 0 33.0 36 18 17 4 13 30 4.64 1.48


W-L G GS CG SHO SV BS IP H R ER HR BB K ERA WHIP
2009 - Ricky Nolasco 1-2 5 5 0 0 0 0 26.0 35 21 20 2 9 22 6.92 1.69

Ricky Nolasco's only two appearances (one relief stint and one start) against the team which foolishly traded him away for little in return were in 2006, and the last one, a 9-1 Marlins win in Miami on May 22, 2006, came almost three full years ago. Sean Marshall was his opposing starter, but apart from that, the only current Cub who played in that game was Aramis Ramirez, who accounted for the only Cub run with a homer off Nolasco. The only other 2009 Cubs who have ever faced him are Aaron Miles (1-for-7) and Alfonso Soriano (3-for-7, 2 HR).

One thing we know for sure today: Carlos Zambrano won't be available to pinch-hit, because he is starting. He is 4-1, 3.05 in his career in nine starts against the Marlins. Jorge Cantu (3-for-5, 1 HR) and Hanley Ramirez are the only current Marlins who have homered off Z; Florida's regular catcher, Ronny Paulino, is only 1-for-19 against Z, so maybe John Baker, the backup, will start this afternoon.

Today's game is on WGN -- and don't forget to tune in starting at 12:30 CDT for the #31 number retirement ceremony, also on WGN. For more games today see the MLB.com Mediacenter.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Overflow comment threads will post today at 2:15, 3:15 and 4:00 pm CDT.

Discuss amongst yourselves.