The Chicago Cubs begin a pivotal 9-game road trip tonight against the Braves in Atlanta. The Cubs are 25-24 and trail the Brewers by 4 games and the Cardinals by 3 games in the NL Central race. The Cubs have a chance to gain ground with some wins on this road trip – the Brewers have 3 more road games against the Marlins in Florida and then travel to play the Braves for a weekend series in Atlanta. The Cards have 3 more home games against the Reds and then host the lowly Rockies over the weekend before playing a 6-game road trip against the Marlins in Florida and the Indians in Cleveland.
In tonight’s opener Randy Wells will face Japanese starter Kenshin Kawakami (3-6, 4.73 ERA). Wells has pitched well in his 4 starts for the Cubs, despite the 0-2 record. Wells has a 1.80 ERA with a spectacular 1.16 WHIP. Wells has also increased the number of innings pitched in each start – 5, 6, 7 and 7 – showing that he is getting more comfortable on the mound and giving the bullpen a much beeded rest. He did not allow a single run in either of his 1st 2 starts. And in his 2 losses, the Cubs lost 3-1 and 2-1 in games where the Cubs offense deserted him.
Ted Lilly will face Derek Lowe on Wednesday night and Carlos Zambrano – back from serving a 6-game suspension for his antics in last Wednesday’s 5-2 win over the Pirates – will square off against Jair Jurrjens in Thursday night’s finale.
Then the Cubs are off to Cincinnati and Houston for the final 6 games of the road trip. Let’s hope the Cubs fare better on this road trip than they did just 10 days ago when the Cubs lost all 6 games to the Cardinals in St. Louis and the Padres in San Diego on a disastrous week of travel.