U.S. Cellular Field plays host to the first of six meetings between the crosstown White Sox and Cubs on Monday night.
The way players and coaches view this isn’t what it used to be. The Cubs have essentially reduced it to just another series – especially given the fact they just hosted the first place Brewers followed by a three-game set with the Yankees.
Cubs manager Mike Quade had a little wit about the series when discussing it this weekend, but not much more than hoping to get his picture taken with Ozzie.
The series is more for the media and fans anymore, but the allure will always be there since the two teams share a city.
Gavin Floyd (6-6, 3.94 ERA) and Carlos Zambrano (5-4, 4.59) take the mound in Game 1. Starting pitching is the key for the Cubs this series. They need to go deep into games because the bullpen has been hard at work of late, and not always in the successful way. Jeff Samardzija is vulnerable lately, as is Chris the non-Cardinal Carpenter.
Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol are the guys the White Sox don’t want to see, but Quade has had many more holes to fill of late leading up to Marshall and Marmol.
The Cubs’ defense is also atrocious much more often than it should be. They make a lot of mistakes and the White Sox have to capitalize on that.
The lineup is dangerous with Kosuke Fukudome and Starlin Castro up top. Aramis Ramirez has been getting more hits of late, and Alfonso Soriano has homered twice since coming off the DL last week. Geovany Soto is also having a small-scale Adam Dunn-ish year so far, but has recently shown signs of waking up.
Reed Johnson is the Brent Lillibridge of the North Side – he even hit a home run off of Mariano Rivera over the weekend, a day after making a game-saving catch.
Matt Garza (3-6, 4.14) gets his first taste of the rivalry on Tuesday night against a senior member on the circuit in Mark Buehrle (6-5, 3.75). Garza will be back under A.L. rules for the first time – I’m curious if he performs better than he has been because of it.
Garza was 1-2 with a 6.87 ERA against the White Sox while in the A.L.
Buehrle is 5-4 with a 4.20 ERA against the Cubs, winning every other year, this being his year to lose if the pattern continues.
Wednesday night features the return of Jake Peavy (2-1, 4.66) with Doug Davis (1-5, 4.95). Peavy is 5-2 with a 2.40 ERA in his career against the Cubs, including 2-0, 1.29 last year. Davis can be tricky, as he just showed Friday when he stymied the Yankees for eight innings. He has been battle tested, already having faced the Yankees, Phillies, Giants, Red Sox and Reds this season (thus the record), but a pitcher like Peavy loves a lineup like the Cubs’ – one he can just pick apart.
This is a great opportunity for the White Sox to add to the Cubs’ problems while mending some of their own. A sweep would get the White Sox back to .500 and keep the pressure on the Tigers, who go into a three-game set at Dodger Stadium.
I’ll be out at the park Tuesday and Wednesday, so follow me on Twitter at @AtTravisMiller to get some added, albeit unnecessary input.
For more on the Cubs/Sox series, check out this column that Sox fans might like a little more than Cubby fans. #Fuelthefire