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Matchup/Game Thread Chicago Cubs at Houston Astros 7:05 CDT

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' You can't spell 'dozer' without 'Oz'
Carlos Zambrano Roy Oswalt
14 - 7, 3.42 11 - 6, 3.55

Maybe it's just me, but I'm feeling a good positive energy surrounding this game, surrounding this pitching matchup. It's energy that's most welcome not only during this season of disappointments for the Astros, but also on this day otherwise spent talking about the accomplishments of a criminal.

In my book, Oswalt and Zambrano have been the best and the most consistent pitchers in the National League over the last five seasons, and this is only their fifth meeting all-time. Yeah, I guess I hate Zambrano . . . I guess.

And I suppose your garden-variety, dyed-in-the-wool Cub fan hates Oswalt, too. But mixed in with all that I would think is a healthy measure of respect for a member of the opposition, a recognition that this guy is one of the best. I've got that for Zambrano, and if I read them right, the more civilized contingents of Cub fans on the net have it for Oswalt.

Thinking about this kind of stuff the night after a player for whom I have no respect at all broke the most hallowed record in the whole goddamned sport doesn't make it all better, but it helps.

****

Both Oswalt and Zambrano have stepped up their games since the All-Star break, but Z has been by most measures the better pitcher notwithstanding.

Tonight's where that turns around, y'all, that and a few other streaks.

NL Rankings Since the Break
Min. 20 IP
Stat Oz Z
WHIP 11 6
ERA 27 1
Strikeouts 15T 11T
K/BB 2 52
OPS Against 13 1
Wins 8T 1T