07/04/10 1:51 PM ET
Cubs, D-backs trying to reach potential
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
The talent is there for both clubs. The effort is also there. But so far, the promise has gone mostly unfulfilled and both teams have spent most of the season looking up at the leaders in their divisions.
That said, neither team has quit on the season.
"When things are going good, it's easy," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "When things start going wrong, you have to realize it doesn't mean disaster; it means you have your abilities, you need to execute and keep focused and you don't get away from what you do well."
The D-backs will send Ian Kennedy to the mound to kick off the series. The Cubs will counter with Tom Gorzelanny.
In his first start since May 26, Gorzelanny threw 77 pitches over five scoreless innings against the Pirates on June 30. The left-handed pitcher, who has taken Carlos Zambrano's spot in the rotation, faced the D-backs May 2 and picked up the win.
"Things are going to turn," Gorzelanny said. "This team is way too good to be playing like we have recently. There's no reason to think it'll only get worse, because it can only get better from here."
The same can be said for the D-backs.
As for Kennedy, the young right-hander, who last started on June 26 against Tampa Bay, will be pitching on an extra day of rest. He struck out seven but walked nine batters against the Rays. He used his extra time between starts to iron out his control issues.
"Honestly, I have no idea but I need to figure it out," Kennedy, who became the first pitcher in the Major Leagues to allow nine or more walks since Boston's Josh Beckett in 2006, said of his outing. "It's not acceptable and it's very, very frustrating. I don't know what's wrong. I have to look at film and figure it out quick before my next outing."
Cubs: Marmol, Byrd among best
Third baseman Aramis Ramirez was not in the lineup for the second day Sunday because his left thumb injury flared up again. There is not a timetable on his return. ... Chicago's Carlos Marmol is on a roll. He has 69 strikeouts in 38 innings, the most strikeouts by a reliever this season. He's averaging 16.34 strikeouts per nine innings, also tops among relievers. ... Marlon Byrd was named to his first All-Star team on Sunday, selected by his peers.
D-backs: Positively speaking
Since June 10, Justin Upton has hit safely in 14 of his last 21 games. ... Stephen Drew made his first start Sunday since June 30 because of knee stiffness and went 1-for-3 with a walk. ... Second baseman Kelly Johnson was back in the lineup Sunday after missing Saturday with the flu and went 1-for-4. ... Gibson marveled at Chad Qualls' improving sinker. The embattled reliever and former closer has tossed three straight scoreless appearances after allowing a run in five straight outings.
Cubs starters rank among the Major League leaders with 52 quality starts this season. ... Chicago is 11-19 in one-run games this season. ... D-backs pitcher Dontrelle Willis was designated for assignment Sunday. ... The D-backs are among the NL leaders with 162 doubles and 96 home runs. ... Chris Young, Arizona's leader in RBIs with 57, was named to the All-Star team for the first time in his career Sunday.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.