White Sox vs. Cubs. It is something that fans look forward to every year. In the 2011 season both teams come into the series under .500 with the Sox looking to gain some ground in the AL central while the Cubs look to continue to try and gather up wins and try to become more relevant in the NL central. I will look at the matchup for the first game that starts Monday night at U.S Cellular field.
Carlos Zambrano vs. Gavin Floyd
Zambrano comes into the series with an average record of 5-4 with an ERA of 4.59. The always controversial right hander has not had a great month of May going 0-2 with an ERA at 6.05. The White Sox have hit Zambrano pretty well in his career with Zambrano holding a lifetime record of 5-4 against the Sox with an ERA of 4.97. With the most recent game being last June in the middle of the White Sox huge run. Zambrano completed only 1 inning allowing 4 ER and taking the loss in a 6-0 shut out. Not only was it an ugly outing on the field by “Big Z” but it was the game that caused much drama afterward with Zambrano blowing up on his teammates causing, then manager, Lou Piniella to remove him from the Cubs clubhouse.
Gavin Floyd has gone 6-6 this year with a nice ERA of 3.94. Floyd has had a mediocre June going 1-1 with an ERA of 4.79. In those 3 starts he had a quality start against the Mariners but did not factor in the decision, a nice start at Fenway Park in which he earned the win and a tough luck loss in Minnesota where he started off shaky but finished nicely. Floyd has only had 2 career starts against the Cubs and in those 2 games he holds an 0-1 record but a sparkling ERA at 1.20. His last start against the Cubs was last year when Floyd and Ted Lilly both had no-hitters going into the 7th inning with Floyd being the loser on a Chad Tracy single. Lilly ended up losing the no-hitter in the 9th in a game that was one of the best pitching duals in the teams’ history against each other.
I believe that the advantage goes to the White Sox in the pitching matchups, but only slightly as I believe Zambrano could come through with a lot of intensity and throw a great game.
The Cubs are 2nd in the National League in batting average at .265 while being 9th in runs scored. White Sox are 8th in batting average (.254), 8th in runs scored but 5th in homeruns (76) in the American League. Both teams have had their obvious troubles at the plate. Both teams also have their fair share of hitters who are on fire right now with the Sox having Paul Konerko, and the Cubs having their star shortstop Starlin Castro and even Aramis Ramirez has been great at the plate as of late.
I will give the slight advantage to the White Sox in the hitting category, but again, it is not by a large margin. The Sox have had their problems at home, but with a nice offensive showing in the finale in Arizona, I believe that that can carry over in the series against the Cubs.
I think that this will be a hard fought series by both sides and will be exciting to say the least. Will Floyd step up with another big performance against the Cubs? Will Zambrano be able to harness his emotions for the best or the worst? Round 1 starts Monday night at 7:10 central time.