Game Ninety-Six: Cubs (51-44) vs. Diamondbacks (50-48)
Game Time – 12:05pm C.T. WGN, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Rich Hill (6-6, 3.70/1.12) vs. Micah Owings (5-5, 4.92/1.48)
With Friday’s win, the Cubs moved to within 2 1/2 games of the Brewers in the Central and are 2 games behind the Dodgers and Padres, who are tied for the lead in the NL Wild Card race. Lou Piniella’s crew is playing good ball right now but must figure out a way to put a win on the board today against a pitcher they have never faced in the regular season. The Cubs typically struggle against pitchers they are unfamiliar with and Micah Owings is extremely talented, although his numbers of late do not reflect the way he is capable of pitching. While the offense must continue to put runs on the board, it all starts with Rich Hill. After stumbling into the All-Star break, Rich Hill responded with a tremendous outing against the Giants last Monday night after 12 days off. Hill gave up 2 runs on 4 hits in 8 innings, his best outing since June 7th in Atlanta, and was very efficient. Hill threw just 95 pitches and his outing was very reminiscent of the starts he made back in April and early June. Hill is reportedly working on a third pitch, which would help offset his fastball and his trademark curveball.
Hill is 1-1 in 3 career starts against the D’backs with a 5.00 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. Hill received a no-decision to the D’backs in 2005 and was shelled in Arizona in just 4 innings in May of last season but he pitched a gem against them in Wrigley on August 1st. He allowed 3 runs on 8 innings and that outing was the one that started his big league career.
- Eric Byrnes – 2-7, with a double, a home run and 2 RBI’s
- Chad Tracy – 2-4, with a home run and a RBI
Micah Owings came into the season as the Diamondbacks top pitching prospect according to Baseball America. The Cubs drafted Owings in the 19th round of the 2004 draft but Owings decided to stay in college and transferred to Tulane that year instead. The D’backs drafted Owings in the 3rd round of the 2005 draft.
Owings has done a majority of his work in the starting rotation this year, 15 starts, but has pitched out of the pen on 2 occasions. After giving up just 1 hit in 5 shutout innings in his Major League debut on April 6th, Owings has had an inconsistent season. He threw a complete game on May 24th against the Astros, but his start before was a loss to the Pirates in which he gave up 7 runs on 6 hits with 4 walks in 2 2/3 innings. When Owings is good, he is real good but when he is bad, well….
Owings has struggled away from Chase Field. He is 3-2 with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP at home but is 2-3 with a 7.46 ERA and a 1.71 WHIP on the road. Today will be Owings 4th consecutive start on the road, he is 0-3 with a 10.43 ERA (17 runs on 21 hits, 6 home runs, 9 strike outs and 7 walks in 14 2/3 innings) in his last 3 starts.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….