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Tonight's Matchup: Brewers (Narveson) at Cubs (Zambrano)

I'm wondering if this is de ja vu. Remember in 2008 when the Crew swept the Cardinals in a four game series to move into a tie for first place? Then the Cubs came to down and knocked us off our high horse, making the Brewers look downright silly in that horrendous four game series. Yeah, I'm getting similar feelings this time around.

With all that being said, despite the two losses, the Crew is still clinging to a tie for first place, and they'll look to Chris Narveson (3-4, 4.32 ERA, 3.22 FIP) tonight to get them back in the win column. He'll be coming off one of his best starts of the season, where he threw 8 shutout innings against the Cardinals, limited them to 6 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 6. This was a pleasant change from his previous starts, where he couldn't make it out of the sixth inning, and allowed a total of 15 runs over 12.2 innings. The key to Narveson's success has always been avoiding the big inning. He seems to have been able to avoid said big innings against the Cubs, because he is 4-0 with a 2.70 ERA in his career against the Cubs. Only two Cubs have faced Narveson at least ten times. Hopefully Narveson won't have to face Jeff Samardzija tonight, because he's batting 1.00 against him, with a home run, one of only two homers the Cubs have against Narv-dog.

PA slash line
Geovany Soto 13 .400/.538/.500
Aramis Ramirez 12 .182/.250/.455

The ever-mellow Narveson will be taking on the ever-angry Carlos Zambrano (5-4, 4.40 ERA. 3.61 FIP). Unlike the Narv-dog, Zambrano is coming off a not-so-good outing, where he allowed seven ER to the Phillies on seven H, two HR, and seven BB. He was looking okay for a while; only 3 ER in 6 IP. But then he allowed a grand slam to Placido Polanco, and Mike Quade ended his night there. He also threw 128 pitches in that outing, so we'll have to see how he feels today.

The big differences between 2010 Zambrano and 2011 Zambrano are the strikeouts and the walks. Big Z has really cut down on his walks this season, down to 3.3/9, compared to 4.8 last season. He's also striking out a full two fewer batters this season; 6.1/9 this season after striking out 8.1/9 last season. The rest of his peripherals are all petty well in line with his career numbers. In his career against the Crew, Zambrano is 13-8 with a 3.73 ERA. Eight Brewers have faced him at least 10 times:

PA slash line
Prince Fielder 59 .349/.525/.674
Rickie Weeks 49 .200/.265/.311
Ryan Braun 41 .243/.317/.351
Craig Counsell 41 .242/.366/.303
Corey Hart 35 .267/.371/.367
Nyjer Morgan 24 .364/.391/.364
Casey McGehee 19 .250/.368/.438
Mark Kotsay 10 .111/.200/.111

Tonight's lineup

Rickie Weeks 2B
Tony Plush CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Casey McGehee 3B
Corey Hart RF
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Chris Narveson LHP

In the bullpen...
Marco Estrada pitched .1 inning (9 pitches) last night.
Zach Braddock pitched .2 innings (9 pitches) last night.
LaTroy Hawkins pitched 1 inning (13 pitches) last night.
Tim Dillard pitched .1 inning (5 pitches) last night.
Kameron Loe pitched 1 inning (18 pitches) Monday.
John Axford pitched 1 inning (19 pitches) Sunday.
Sergio Mitre pitched 2 innings (31 pitches) Thursday.

Right now the game is looking a little iffy, as there is a 70% chance of precipitation starting at 4 o'clock. If we do get the game in, it's going to be a little chilly, with temps in the mid-to-low 60's. Winds about 5-6 MPH from the SW.