The Houston Astros probably wish the teams could have got that game in.
Scheduled to make his first start in six weeks, Zambrano will face one of his favorite opponents Friday night when the Cubs open a three-game series against an Astros team seeking its fourth straight victory.
Zambrano (1-3, 6.12 ERA) anchored Chicago’s rotation for the past several years, but management decided after his fourth start of 2010 that the right-hander could better serve the team by stabilizing a shaky bullpen.
The boisterous pitcher was displeased with the move, and vowed he would be back in the rotation.
Zambrano, who hasn’t started since yielding two runs and six hits while striking out nine in six innings of a 4-0 loss to the New York Mets on April 20, was slated to take the mound in Wednesday’s series finale against Pittsburgh, but the game was postponed until Monday due to unplayable field conditions.
This pushes Zambrano’s start back a day, meaning he’ll face a Houston team he has limited to one run or fewer in 11 of his last 15 starts, including a no-hitter Sept. 14, 2008. His 2.54 ERA in 29 career games against the Astros is his lowest against any NL opponent.
The Cubs, who haven’t played since Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Pirates, will likely need another strong outing from Zambrano considering how the offense is struggling.
Chicago has totaled four runs in losing its last three, and has plated two runs or fewer in five of six.
Soriano, Chicago’s most consistent hitter with a .299 batting average and a team-high nine home runs, is 8 for 19 (.421) with a homer and five RBIs in his last six games against the Astros.
Houston (20-34) enters this series having won three straight, and is coming off a thrilling 6-4 win over Washington on Thursday.
Houston, which has scored the second-fewest runs in the majors with 174, is showing signs of turning things around, plating 19 runs during the winning streak.
Paulino is pitching well, allowing two runs or fewer in four of five starts, but he’s been backed by a major league-worst 1.97 run-support average. The right-hander has received zero runs of support over 14 innings in his last two starts, and has been backed by one run or fewer in seven of his last eight outings.
One of Paulino’s worst performances of the season came against the Cubs on April 15, when he gave up five runs and six hits in six innings of a 7-2 loss. That was Houston’s only loss in a three-game series at Wrigley Field.