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News » Rockies-Cubs Preview 2009-04-13

Rockies-Cubs Preview 2009-04-13

Rockies-Cubs Preview 2009-04-13
The last time the Chicago Cubs were seen at Wrigley Field, they were on their way to being swept out of their NL division series after finishing with the league's best record, ensuring the North Siders would spend a 100th consecutive cold winter without a World Series title.

Not that another disappointing conclusion has dampened anyone's enthusiasm.

The Cubs are again one of the favorites in the NL, and after winning their first two road series, they'll return to Wrigley on Monday afternoon to open their home schedule with the first of two games against the Colorado Rockies.

The anniversary of the Cubs' 100th season since its last World Series victory seemed like it may be a special one, but Chicago didn't waste much time breaking their fans' hearts again. The Cubs were swept in three games by the Los Angeles Dodgers, including a 10-3 thrashing in Game 3, their final game at Wrigley.

Chicago (4-2), though, seems to be moving on from its stunning postseason exit. The Cubs took two of three at Houston to open the season, then after dropping their opener in Milwaukee on Friday, responded by winning the next two, including an 8-5 victory Sunday night.

The Cubs walked 10 times, including four consecutive free passes that forced home four runs in the fourth inning.

"We worked them for a lot of walks," manager Lou Piniella said. "You know, when you're on the receiving end of walks, you feel pretty good about it."

Alfonso Soriano, who went 1-for-14 with four strikeouts in the division series, has led the way offensively thus far, and Sunday night Chicago's powerful leadoff man hit his fourth home run of opening week in addition to walking twice.

Soriano's pop has helped compensate for an offense that's received little production from its third and fourth hitters. Derrek Lee is 2-for-25 (.080) in the No. 3 spot, while new addition Milton Bradley has just one hit in 17 at-bats (.059) as the Cubs' cleanup hitter and left Sunday's game with a strained groin.

They've also been without 2008 NL rookie of the year Geovany Soto since Tuesday as he's been battling a sore shoulder. Chicago's catcher pinch-hit on Sunday, but isn't likely to start until Wednesday.

With or without Soto, Chicago will have a tough task facing Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez (1-0, 0.00 ERA). The young right-hander pitched scattered four hits and struck out eight in seven innings in his season debut Tuesday at Arizona as Colorado (3-3) picked up a 3-0 victory.

"I looked at the good things that I did," Jimenez told the Rockies' official Web site. "The main thing was I challenged hitters and competed. That's what I got out of it, and that's what I'll try to do against the Cubs."

Jimenez gave up four runs over five innings in a 5-3 loss at Wrigley on June 1, part of a four-game Cubs sweep that's run their home winning streak over Colorado to eight straight.

That was Jimenez's first game in Chicago since he made his first major league start there on Oct. 1, 2006, as he didn't get a decision after allowing three earned in 6 2-3 innings.

The Rockies scored 10 runs in their first game against Philadelphia this weekend, running their record to 3-1. They dropped the past two, though, and the bullpen struggled in each game. After giving up three runs in three innings Saturday in an 8-4 loss, Colorado's bullpen was reached for four runs Sunday, and Huston Street blew his first save with his new team in a 7-5 loss.

"You have to get over it," Street said. "It's not OK, but it happens. When it does happen, let's learn."

Ted Lilly (1-0, 9.00) will get the ball for the Cubs, and though he earned a win in his first start, he didn't pitch well. Lilly gave up five runs in five innings Wednesday, allowing four homers in an 11-6 victory over Houston.

Lilly is 2-1 with a 7.56 ERA in four career starts against Colorado. The Rockies hammered him for seven runs - four earned - over three innings on May 30 at Wrigley, but the Cubs rallied from 9-1 down for a 10-9 win.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 13, 2009

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