(The AP’s Lynne Sladky captures Cliff Floyd in a less than graceful exit, as the Marlins force him out at second)
(‘Turn it the [expletive] off,” shouted veteran pitcher Steve Trachsel, the latest Cub who will swim with the fishes today.
That’s from last night, as quoted by The Sun-Times’ Chris De Luca, telling his teammates to turn off the Cardinals-Brewers game in the clubhouse. Both the Cubs and Brewers appear undecided on who wants to win the NL Central title. At least they did last night, in that neither team looked like they wanted to close the deal anytime soon as the Cubs lost their 9th of the year ( 7-4) to the last place Marlins and the Brewers lost (7-3) to the Cardinals. Me, I couldn’t turn off the Cards-Brewers game because the only way the Cubs coulda got anything out of last night was the Cards beating Milwaukee and dropping the Brewers elimination number to 3. Traschel gets the ball today to make sure he isn’t hung with the Cubs 10th loss in a row to the Marlins.
The losses put the screws to both Cubs and Brewers, since the Brewers get to spend the rest of the week making up wins against the Padres who have even more on the line than they do. San Diego is in iboth the Western Division race and neck and neck with Philadelphia for the Wild Card.
The Cubs get the slightly easier task of one more game against the jinxed Marlins and then a final run against the Reds. The loss last night means that Piniella is shifting the line-up, playing Zambrano a day early, as reported by the Northwest Herald’s David Brown. The problem: Playoffs or not, “Big Z,” as he likes to call himself in the off-season when demanding raises, is a Big L on opening days of any series, not just play-off or Word Series games.
“The big thing was to let Zambrano pitch on his [normal] day,” Piniella said. “That being the case, it allows him to pitch on his fifth day for the first day of the playoffs. Makes perfect sense.”
Zambrano, after losing on opening day at Cincinnati, said he never wanted to pitch another opener – seemingly because of jitters.
Players get fewer jitters in the playoffs, apparently.
“I think a playoff game is a heck of a lot different than an opening day,” Piniella said. “He’s had a couple of hundred innings under his belt” by now.
Here is how the Cubs rotation stacks up – at the moment: Steve Trachsel goes today, then Zambrano, Rich Hill on Saturday with an extra day of rest and Ted Lilly on Sunday.