Game One Hundred Eleven: Cubs (58-52) vs. Astros (48-63)
Game Time – 7:05pm C.T. Comcast SportsNet, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 183
Location – Minute Maid Park, Houston
Rich Hill (6-6, 3.67/1.21) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (7-10, 4.72/1.30)
The Cubs begin a big 7-game road trip tonight in Houston that concludes over the weekend with 4 games in Colorado before a well-deserved day off next Monday. The Cubs will open a 3-game series tonight in Houston for the first time this season. It is hard to believe that on August 6th the Cubs will play their first game of the year at Minute Maid Park and without Alfonso Soriano. Lou Piniella will need someone to step up in Soriano’s absence but it all starts with Rich Hill. Tonight would have been a rematch of a game on April 11th. That game was snowed out but Rich Hill and Wandy Rodriguez were the scheduled starters. Hill will face an Astros’ lineup without Hunter Pence and Morgan Ensberg. Pence was placed on the DL on July 23rd with a broken bone in his wrist and Morgan Ensberg was DFA’d on July 29th before being traded to the Padres on July 31st. The Astros did add Ty Wigginton on July 28th when they traded Dan Wheeler to the Devil Rays.
Like Jason Marquis, the question for Lou Piniella must be, which Rich Hill will take the mound tonight? Hill has the stuff to be dominate at the Major League level but has yet to figure out the mental aspects of baseball. Hill appears to get very frustrated when he struggles or “when things do not go his way.” Once he realizes he is capable of getting himself out of trouble and that he has the ability to work through adversities, he will become one of the elite pitchers in the league.
Hill struggled through his last start against the Phillies and could not complete 5 innings of work for only the third time this season. He allowed 4 runs, 3 earned, on 8 hits with 5 strikeouts and 3 walks in 4 2/3 innings. Hill had a decent but inconsistent July. He was 1-1 in 4 starts with a 3.96 ERA and if the Cubs are going to play meaningful games in September, they will need Rich Hill to return to his early season form.
Tonight will be Hill’s first start of the season and his career against the Astros. Hill has faced the Astros twice in his career and is 1-0 without an ERA and a 0.43 WHIP in 2 1/3 innings of work. Hill took the win last year in Houston on August 15th in the 18-inning marathon that resulted in Ryan O’Malley making his spectacular Major League debut later that day.
Wandy Rodriguez is another one of baseball’s many mysteries. Rodriguez is a solid pitcher with a bright future but his home-road splits are truly remarkable. Rodriquez is 1-8 in 11 starts on the road this season with a 8.16 ERA and a 1.73 WHIP but at Minute Maid he is 6-2 with a 1.76 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP.
Rodriguez is 1-3 in his last 4 starts with the only win coming in his only start at home. Rodriguez pitched just 4 innings his last time out in Atlanta and gave up 8 runs on 6 hits in 4 innings (104 pitches, 62 strikes) with 5 walks and 4 strikeouts. But in his last home start on July 26th he beat the Padres and gave up just 1 run on 5 hits in 7 innings (110 pitches, 67 strikes) with 5 strikeouts and 2 walks.
Tonight will be Rodriguez second start of the season against the Cubs. He lost at Wrigley back on July 15th and gave up 7 runs on 9 hits in 3 1/3 innings. Rodriguez is 2-4 in 6 career starts against the Cubs with a 6.09 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP.
- Derrek Lee – 6-9, with 2 doubles, 2 home runs and 6 RBI’s
- Matt Murton – 4-11, with 2 home runs and 2 RBI’s
- Ryan Theriot – 2-3, with a home run and a RBI
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….