Following a .500 homestand the Cubs(14-11) hit the road for a 9 game/9 day western swing. The first series of the roadtrip will be a short two game series in Phoenix versus the D-Backs(14-13). Bob Melvin's young snakes find themselves in second place in the NL West just 1.0 game behind the division leading Colorado Rockies. Arizona has been playing good ball recently winning three in a row and 7 of their last 10.
The Cubs sputtering offense can look forward to hitting at Chase Field. D-Back pitching has struggled big time at home. Thusfar the Arizona pitchers have a 5.50 ERA at Chase Field compared to a 3.44 ERA on the road. They have allowed 16 more earned runs at home in 3 fewer games.
In this series the bruins will face two former Cubs. Tonight Miguel Batista will toe the rubber for Arizona tomorrow it will be onetime prospect Juan Cruz. Cruz, now with his third organization since leaving the Cubs during Spring Training 2004, is making only his second start of the season. His first start came last Saturday versus the Giants in San Fran. I watched some of this game and Juan looked pretty sharp. He only threw 5 innings(he's been a reliever all year so Melvin and his staff were careful with the number of pitches) gave up 2 hits, no walks, struck out 3, and allowed 1 earned run. Cruz still has electric stuff at times. In that game he threw 67 pitches, 49 were strikes.
The Cubs will send April's NL Pitcher of the month Greg Maddux to the mound tonite. Maddux is looking to become 6-0 for the first time in his Hall of Fame career. Thursday will see Rich Hill make his 2006 major league debut. This will be Hill's fifth big league start. The lefty pitched well at Iowa in April going 1-0 with a 1.44 ERA in 4 starts. He had a 0.80 WHIP, struck out 33 walking 7 in 25.0 innings pitched. We know Hill can pitch at triple-A. Is he a AAAA pitcher or a big league pitcher?
Pitching Matchups and broadcast info:
Wednesday 8:40 ct
Greg Maddux(5-0, 1.35) vs. Miguel Batista(2-1, 6.33)
Radio- WGN Radio-720 AM; XM-188
Thursday 8:40 ct
Rich Hill(0-0, -.--) vs. Juan Cruz(0-0, 2.65)
TV-WCIU "the U"
Radio-WGN Radio-720 AM; XM-188
What's in a name? The Diamondbacks home formerly Bank One Ballpark is now called Chase Field.