Game Eighty-Six: Cubs (43-42) vs. Pirates (39-47)
Game Time – 6:05pm C.T. WGN TV, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 184
Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh
Ted Lilly (7-4, 3.84/1.08) vs. John Van Benschoten (0-2, 4.35/1.31)
The Cubs have to figure out a way to get their offense going today. After a solid series against the Brewers, the Cubs took 3 of 4 from the Nationals without much offense. They failed to score on Wednesday and totaled 18 scoreless innings before scoring just enough to get the win on Thursday night. The Pirates are red hot right now and the Cubs need to give Ted Lilly an early lead, tack on some runs and beat the Pirates at their own game.
News and notes…. Before Friday’s game, Lou Piniella mentioned the possibility of Daryle Ward starting tonight in right field with Cliff Floyd limited to pinch hitting duties throughout the weekend. According to a report on Cubs.com, Felix Pie could be the odd man out when the Cubs make a roster move after the break to add a pitcher. And Piniella wants to add a right-handed bat to his bench and according to a report in the Chicago Tribune, the bat will have to come from their farm system. The Tribune stated, Cesar Izturis is “blocking” Ronny Cedeno and they “won’t call up catcher Geovany Soto“, Matt Murton is not doing well in Iowa and the name Jake Fox was mentioned as a possibility to join the big league club. Ted Lilly is coming off a strong 7-inning outing against the Nationals his last time out. Lilly gave up just a run on 3 hits, walked 3 and struck out 5. Lilly has won his last two starts and has not lost since the beginning of June against the Brewers. Tonight will be Lilly’s third start of the season against the Pirates and he did not receive a decision in his first two outings against the Bucs. He gave up 5 runs, 4 earned on 9 hits in 5 1/3 innings on May 1st at PNC and gave up 2 runs on 7 hits in 7 innings on May 8th at Wrigley. In 12 1/3 innings against the Pirates this season he has walked 2 and struck out 9. Lou Piniella needs a solid outing from Lilly and for him to win his 3rd in a row, but most importantly a win would guarantee the Cubs with a record above .500 at the end of the first half.
The Cubs will face rookie John Van Benschoten for the first time tonight. Van Benschoten will make his 5th start of the season after going 1-3 with a 6.91 ERA in 6 games (5 starts) for the Pirates in 2004. He is coming off of a no-decision against the Brewers, 3 runs on 3 hits in 6 innings with 5 strikeouts and 2 walks, all season highs. The Cubs have not faired too well in these match-ups and if they want to play meaningful games in September they have to start winning these types of games.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….