The Chicago Cubs finally managed to break out of their slump with an impressive offensive showing last time out. Duplicating that success doesn’t figure to be easy.
In the finale of a four-game series at Citi Field, the Cubs try to win back-to-back games for only the second time this season when they face ace Johan Santana(notes), who is coming off his best outing of the year for the New York Mets.
After plating six runs during a four-game skid, Chicago (6-9) pounded out a season-high 14 hits in Wednesday’s 9-3 win. Alfonso Soriano(notes) and Marlon Byrd(notes) each drove in three runs for the Cubs, who haven’t won consecutive games since April 12 and 14.
“It was a very important win for us,” said Soriano, who had taken some criticism for not hustling out of the batter’s box on a hit that could have gone for a triple in Chicago’s 6-1 loss on Monday. He made up for it Wednesday, finishing a double shy of the cycle.
While Soriano has been one of Chicago’s most consistent hitters recently, batting .476 with four doubles in the last six games, he’s had no luck against Santana, failing to record a hit in 10 career at-bats.
Santana (1-1, 3.00 ERA) has given the Cubs problems, posting a 1.69 ERA while striking out 16 in 16 innings in winning his only two career starts against them. This will be the left-hander’s first outing against Chicago at Citi Field, where he’s 9-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 16 starts.
Santana was sharp versus St. Louis on Saturday, giving up four hits while striking out nine in seven scoreless innings, but he had been out of the game for hours by the time it ended. The Mets won 2-1 in 20 innings, the franchise’s longest contest in nearly 36 years.
Like Chicago, New York has also endured some offensive woes this season, plating three runs or fewer in four of their last six games.
In a stunning move, Cubs manager Lou Piniella announced before Wednesday’s game that opening day starter Carlos Zambrano(notes) would head to the bullpen. With left-hander Ted Lilly(notes) expected to come off the disabled list later this week, Piniella didn’t want to move fellow lefty Tom Gorzelanny(notes) (0-1, 1.93) out of the rotation.
Gorzelanny allowed one run in 6 1-3 innings against Cincinnati in his season debut, but didn’t have the same luck in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Houston. He gave up two runs and left with a contusion on his left arm after being hit by Pedro Feliz’s(notes) line drive in the third.
“I felt like somebody just slapped me in the shoulder. I didn’t think it was too serious, and it’s not,” Gorzelanny told the Cubs’ official website.
This will be Gorzelanny’s first start against the Mets (6-9) since 2008 after going 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in four relief appearances against them last season. He is 1-2 with a 7.04 ERA against New York as a starter, all coming with Pittsburgh.