Game Seventy-Five: Cubs (35-39) vs. Rockies (38-37)
Game Time – 7:05pm C.T. Comcast Sports Net, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 184
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Jason Marquis (5-4, 3.38/1.11) vs. Jeff Francis (7-5, 3.44/1.29)
Back to the North Side of Chicago and Senior Circuit baseball…. The Cubs start a 6-game homestand under the lights tonight against the very dangerous Colorado Rockies. After sweeping the Yankees at Coors Field they were swept over the weekend by the Blue Jays at the Roger Centre and nearly no-hit by Dustin McGowan on Sunday, Jeff Baker led off the 9th inning with the only hit of the day for the Rockies. The Rockies feature several of the most exciting young players in the National League, the NL’s top hitter in Matt Holliday and the always-dangerous Todd Helton. Jason Marquis will have to be at the top of his game if he wants to post his first win in nearly six weeks. While the Cubs sweeping the White Sox over the weekend was very good for bragging rights, the next week will show exactly how good Lou Piniella’s crew is as the All-Star break approaches. Jason Marquis is not only coming off a bad start, he is coming off several and has not pitched well since his complete game shutout against the Pirates on May 9th. Marquis was making every General Manager in the league wonder why they passed on signing him this past off-season. Marquis was throwing strikes, keeping the ball down, not walking more than he was striking out and not giving up long ball after long ball. Fast-forward six weeks and now every general manager in the league is seeing the pitcher they passed on. If Piniella wants to win games in bunches and get his ship turned around then he must get Marquis to return to his early season form.
Marquis’ biggest problem right now is that he appears to have lost his confidence. He could not find a rhythm in Texas and lost his control after hitting Jeff Weaver with a pitch the last time he started at Wrigley against the Mariners. Marquis was not sharp against the Brewers but effective and his teammates need a similar performance tonight against one of the better offensive teams in the league.
Marquis has pitched better this season at Wrigley than on the road and is 3-2 in 7 starts with a 3.32 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. Tonight will be Marquis’ eighth career start against the Rockies and he is 4-3 in 9 previous games with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP.
- Todd Helton – 7-22, with 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 5 RBI’s and 4 walks
- Matt Holliday – 3-12, with 2 home runs and 2 RBI’s
- Willy Taveras – 8-26, with a triple and 3 RBI’s
Jeff Francis has shown the potential to be a very good Major League pitcher but has never been able to put it all together, despite having a career record of 30-25 entering the 2007 season….well those days appear to be long gone as Francis has finally started pitching with the results all the experts thought he would.
After a bad April (1-3, 6.52 ERA, 21 earned runs on 45 hits in 29 innings), Francis has posted a 6-2 record in his last 10 starts. He has allowed 17 earned runs on 56 hits in 70 1/3 innings and his strikeout to walk ratio is phenomenal, 50:14. Francis has allowed more than one earned run only twice in his last 7 starts and is 3-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 6 starts away from Coors Field.
Francis does have pretty severe lefty-righty splits, especially for all of his recent success. Lefties are hitting .210 with a .257 OBP against him while righties are hitting .285 with a .341 OBP and 6 of the 9 home runs he has allowed have come from the right side of the plate.
The lefty has not posted either a win or a loss in 3 career starts against the Cubs and has given up 16 earned runs in 15 2/3 innings on 24 hits….a 9.19 ERA and a 1.91 WHIP with a .348 batting average. In 2 career starts at Wrigley, Francis has given up 11 runs on 16 hits in 11 1/3 innings.
- Rob Bowen – 1-4, with 2 walks
- Derrek Lee – 3-3, with 3 walks
- Jason Marquis – 1-2
- Aramis Ramirez – 2-8, with a double, a home run and 4 RBI’s
- Alfonso Soriano – 2-6
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….