Game Fifty-Four: Cubs (21-32) vs. Cardinals (34-20)
Game Time – 3:05pm C.T. FOX Game of the Week, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Busch Stadium, St. Louis
Glendon Rusch (1-5, 7.05) vs. Mark Mulder (5-3 4.52)
Glendon Rusch takes the mound this afternoon in the FOX Game of the Week. Rusch will make his first start since April 29th and he is coming off a 9 strikeout performance last Sunday against the Atlanta Braves….the first Cubs’ reliever to strikeout 9 since Bruce Sutter in 1977. The Cubs must get a quality start today out of Glendon Rusch, win or lose, because with Friday night’s marathon the bullpen was overworked on the first game of a 10 game road series that does not see the Cubs get a day off until June 12th. David Aardsma worked 2 innings, Scott Eyre and Ryan Dempster worked 3 innings apiece and if Dusty has to go to the pen to early it could be a long afternoon for the Cubbies. Glendon Rusch saw minimal success out of the bullpen in May and in 7 appearances he was 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA and in 14 2/3 innings of work he gave up 10 runs, 8 earned, on 16 hits, walked 6 and gave up 2 home runs. As a starter, Rusch had a miserable April and was 1-4 with a 8.46 ERA in 5 games and allowed 21 runs on 24 hits, 11 home runs, 11 walks and struck out 14 in just 22 1/3 innings. Rusch is capable of dominating the Cardinals and did last year (September 6, 2005) in St. Louis and actually had a perfect game going until David Eckstein broke it up with a single up the middle to lead off the 7th inning….the Cubs won the game 5-2. While perfection is not expected a somewhat near repeat performance would be great to see.
Today should feature the debut of Phil Nevin in the starting lineup, Nevin was walked on Friday night in his Cub debut and will add the possibility of power to the Cubs’ offense against Mark Mulder who has already beaten the Cubs this season. Mulder held the Cubs to just 3 runs on 5 hits over 8 innings on April 21 and beat Jerome Williams who could not make it to the 3rd inning. Mulder has lost his last 2 starts and was 3-3 in the month of May with a 5.50 ERA in 6 games but did throw a shutout into the 9th inning on May 17 against the Mets. Like Rusch, Mulder gives up a lot of home runs and has surrendered 11 in 71 2/3 innings. This could benefit the Cubs if Dusty starts Nevin who has a .298 lifetime average and this season with the Texas Rangers his numbers against left-handed pitching was above average and will be a welcome addition to the Cubs (.267/.340/.533/3/8/ 22 games 3 doubles).
The offense is hitting and with Friday night’s performance 7 out of their last 8 they have totaled at least 10 hits, now they just need to work on getting the runner into scoring position and bringing those runs home.
Friday night the ball bounced the Cubs way, let’s hope they do not need any help for the second day in a row….but then again the Cubs can use any help they can get right now.
Let’s Talk Cubbies Baseball….