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Series preview: Cardinals @ Cubs

The Cardinals couldn't have picked a better time to get the bats going... Unless, of course, it was a month ago. But I digress...

Their likely going to need to put a few runs on the board if they're going to win a couple of games this weekend at offense-oriented Wrigley Field against the loathesome Cubs.

The Wee Bears will be without $100-million reliever Carlos Zambrano supposedly has been determined not to have appendicitis. But he's still not expected to pitch this weekend. Infielder Jason Baker's availability is uncertain after he was almost creamed by a line drive yesterday and he didn't budge. The Cubs called timeout and went to inquire with Baker as to what was the matter. He told manager Lou Pineilla he couldn't see out of his right eye. That can't be good. You'd think a guy might want to mention that he can't see when he was trying to play major league baseball. 

On the whole, the Cubs have been playing somewhat better lately with the return of Ted Lilly from an injury that delayed the start of his season. They've won seven out of their last 10. Alfonso Soriano, who many Cubs fans tried to run out of town on a rail last season, leads team in most offensive categories including batting average (.315), homers (9), and RBIs (27). Meanwhile, as we near the end of May, Derek Lee is hitting .246 with six homers and Aramis Ramirez is hitting (gulp) .160 with four long balls.

Pitching matchups:

The Cardinals need to make a statement in game one when ace Chris Carpenter (5-1, 3.09) takes to the hill against Belleville Native Randy Wells (3-2, 3.99). Carpenter's coming off a rough patch. After getting roughed up by the Astros, he last pitched against the Angels and gave up four earned runs in six innings at home against the Angels. Most disturbing, Carp's early season homer woes have returned recently. Wells got no decision in his last start despite holding the high octane Rangers to three runs over 8 1/3 innings.

Why is game one so important? Well, the Cardinals send TBA to battle Carlos Silva (6-0, 3.52) in game two. TBA is all but certain to be minor league hurler Adam Ottavino who has been traveling with the team on its current road trip but who has not yet been activated to the roster as of Thursday evening. Ottavino will be making his major league debut. 4-3 with a 4.17 ERA in Class AAA Memphis.

The Cardinals also don't have a starter announced for the Sunday game. The Cubs will send Ryan Dumpster... I mean Dempster... to the hill. He's 3-4 with a 3.31 ERA