They say everything is magnified under the bright lights of New York City. For the Chicago Cubs tonite begins a four game series on the road with one of the National League's best ballclubs.
We all know where the Cubs stand in the table (17-18, tied for second, 7 games behind first place Milwaukee-despite the fact that Milwaukee just lost two of three to the Mets). Heading into tonite's game the Mets (23-13) find themselves in second place (1/2 game back)--in what could be the NL's best race this summer with the retooled Atlanta Braves--in the NL East. What we will find out over the next four days is where the Cubs stand is a short series against a contender in front of a hostile crowd.
When all is said and done, the Mets who won 97 games last year, should find themselves as the class of the National League and a legitimate contender to represent the senior circuit in the fall classic. The Mets early season offensive leaders have been Jose Reyes, Shawn Green and Carlos Beltran. Usual suspects David Wright and Carlos Delgado have been pretty quiet thus far in 2007. Hopefully Cub pitching can keep these two quiet the next four days. Offensively we all know the Mets are stacked and so far this year their pitching has been better than expected. The Mets starting staff is second in the league with a 3.39 ERA. (The Cubs starting staff ranks 4th with a 3.63 ERA.)
Speaking of pitching, here are the pitching matchups for the series:
Tonite: Jason Marquis (5-1, 1.70) vs. future HOFer Tom Glavine (4-1, 2.98)
Tuesday: Carlos Zambrano (3-3, 5.83) vs. John Maine (5-0, 1.79)
Wednesday: Rich Hill (4-2, 2.51) vs. Jorge Sosa (2-0, 2.77)
Thursday: Angel Guzman (0-0, 3.57) vs. TBA
For those of you outside of Chicago, tonite's game will be on the 4 letter networks Monday Night Baseball coverage. Here in Chicago the game will be on WCIU with the hometown call of Len and Bob.
As the 2007 Cubs continue to bounce around the .500 mark they have to look at this series as an opportunity to showcase how they match up with the NL favorite. When this series is over the Cubs will have played 40 games this season. They could be anywhere from three games over .500 to five games under. While the season has a long ways to go, this series could tell us a lot about the 2007 Cubs.
Numbers: since 1962 the Cubs are 331-329 vs. the Mets. Their record at Shea is 143-160 since '64.