When the San Francisco Giants continue their four-game series at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night, they expect to have a key player in the lineup who wasn’t there for the series opener. So do the surging Chicago Cubs, albeit for a much different reason.
Chicago (48-43) has won four straight games and 16 of 20 despite the fact it hasn’t had a clear starting catcher since trading Michael Barrett to San Diego on June 20. That situation changed Monday, as the Cubs acquired Kendall - a three-time All-Star - from Oakland along with cash in exchange for catcher Rob Bowen and minor league pitcher Jerry Blevins.
Manager Lou Piniella said he will probably bat Kendall seventh. The 33-year-old veteran has struggled to a .226 batting average this season - far below his .298 career mark - but Cubs general manager Jim Hendry does not appear concerned.
“His second half career numbers are much better than his first. His on-base percentage is always high,” Hendry said.
“I’m sure he is not quite the offensive force he was four or five years ago, but we felt in that situation behind the plate that he was a real good fit for us.”
Kendall, who spent nine seasons with the NL Central rival Pittsburgh Pirates from 1996-2004, is a .279 hitter in 51 career games at Wrigley.
Third baseman Aramis Ramirez, Kendall’s former teammate with the Pirates, hit a two-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning Monday to rally the Cubs to a 3-2 victory in the series opener.
“I was happy when I heard about it,” Ramirez said of the Kendall trade. “He’s not going the way he likes this year. He’s a .300 hitter for a reason. … He will come over here and give you all he has. You’re going to see him play and you’re going to like him.”
The Giants fell to 0-4 since the All-Star break and dropped their fifth straight overall. They certainly weren’t helped by the absence of Bonds, who sat out to rest his sore knees.
“He will play tomorrow. I talked to him,” San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said.
Bochy and the Giants (38-52) can only hope the day off was what Bonds needed to return to form. The slugger is hitless in his last 20 at-bats and hasn’t homered since July 3 at Cincinnati. He remains stuck at 751 career home runs, four shy of Hank Aaron’s all-time record.
Barry Zito (6-9, 4.90 ERA) will look to put a brutal first half of the season behind him when he takes the mound for San Francisco. The left-hander, who signed a $126 million, seven-year deal with the Giants in December after spending his first seven major league seasons with Oakland, went 0-4 with a 7.42 ERA in his final six starts before the All-Star break.
He historically fares better in the season’s second half, however. In his career, Zito is 49-45 with a 3.96 ERA prior to the break, but 59-27 with a 3.26 ERA thereafter.
He lost his only previous start against the Cubs, yielding four runs in five innings of a 5-3 defeat at Wrigley on June 20, 2004, while with the Athletics.
Chicago starter Sean Marshall (4-3, 3.48) seeks his first win since June 24. The left-hander is 0-1 in two starts since then.
In his last outing, he allowed two runs over 5 1-3 innings at Washington on July 5, but did not record a decision in the Cubs? 4-2 victory.
Marshall is 0-2 with a 12.54 ERA in two starts versus San Francisco, both last season. Bonds is 1-for-3 with a homer and three walks against him.