Game One Hundred Two: Cubs (40-61) vs. Cardinals (58-43)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T. Comcast SportsNet, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Carlos Marmol (3-4, 4.50) vs. Jason Marquis (12-7, 5.62)
Can the Cubs take two in a row from the Cardinals? For the Cubs to accomplish that feat they will need Carlos Marmol to throw strikes and go deep in the game, something that Cubs’ starters have not been able to do as of late. Over the last 7 games the starting staff has pitched through the 6th inning only twice either due to ineffectiveness, injury or in Mark Prior’s case against the Mets, a high pitch count. The Cubs next scheduled day off is not until August 7th and the bullpen has been overworked in recent days. A move to bring up a fresh arm for the pen before today’s game would not come as a surprise. Carlos Marmol left his last start in the 4th inning after bruising his hand during a 3rd inning at-bat. The good news (at the time) was Marmol recorded his second career hit which gave him a 2-game hitting streak, the bad news was when he took the mound in the 3rd inning, the Nationals scored 2 of their 5 runs off of Marmol in that inning and he was not the same the rest of the afternoon. Marmol had his shortest outing as a starter and arguably his worst start of the season (3 2/3 innings, 5 runs on 6 hits, 4 walks, 2 strike outs and 2 home runs on 70 pitches). Marmol made his Major League debut against the Cardinals in relief on June 4th and gave up just 1 hit in 2 innings of work while striking out 3. He has shown this season what he is capable of; he as electric stuff and could be an effective Major League pitcher for the Cubs if he could just find the strike zone on a consistent basis. Before his start against the Nationals, he had posted consecutive victories against the Astros and Brewers. He gave up just 2 earned runs combined in those starts and posted a 1.50 ERA but he gave up more walks (11) than hits (7) or strikeouts (10).
The Cubs face the National League leader in wins, Jason Marquis. Despite having the third lowest ERA among starter pitchers in the NL, Marquis has posted more wins than Tom Glavine, Aaron Herang, Brandon Webb, Carlos Zambrano (all with 11) and teammate Chris Carpenter (10), who’s ERA is less than half of Marquis’. Marquis is 1-1 this season against the Cubs with a 7.36 ERA in 2 games. On April 23rd the Cubs scored 7 runs, 4 earned, on 7 hits in 6 innings; they walked twice, struck out 2 times and hit 2 home runs. On June 4th, Marquis beat the Cubs but allowed 5 runs on 8 hits, walked 5 and struck out 5 in just 5 innings of work. The Cardinals put up a lot of runs in support of Marquis. He is coming off an 8-inning shutout of the Dodgers in which he gave up just 4 hits. The Cubs will have plenty of opportunities against Marquis and they must take every advantage of them. He has allowed double-digit earned runs twice this season (13 by the White Sox on June 21st and 12 by the Braves on July 18th) and in his last 10 starts the numbers are amazing. In 65 2/3 innings he has allowed 48 runs (6.58 ERA) on 80 hits (13 home runs), walked 20 and recorded 37 strikeouts for a 5-3 record with 2 no decisions.
The Cubs have been hitting the ball of late better than they have all season and they have discovered how to hit the long ball again. The Cubs-Cardinals games are usually decided by one play and Thursday was no different. They are coming off their best defensive effort of the season and a repeat performance would be nice behind another rookie pitcher.
Let’s Talk Cubbies Baseball….