Game One Hundred Twenty-Seven: Cubs (65-61) vs. Diamondbacks (72-56)
Game Time – 8:40pm C.T. Comcast SportsNet, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 189
Location – Chase Field, Phoenix
Sean Marshall (6-6, 4.21/1.35) vs. Micah Owings (6-6, 4.70/1.40)
Updated 9:00pm C.T. – The Cubs have optioned Jake Fox back to Triple-A Iowa in order to make room on the active roster for Craig Monroe.
The Cubs open a big 3-game series tonight in the desert under the roof at Chase Field. The first place Cubs, by a half game, will look to prove they can take a series against a team with a record above .500. The Cubs have never played that well against the Diamondbacks, especially in Arizona. The Cubs are 29-44 against the Diamondbacks since 1998, 1-2 this season and are 12-23 in their park. Two of three from the very young and very impressive Diamondbacks’ team would be a great way to head into the day off on Monday before the 3-game series against the Brewers next week at Wrigley.
The Cubs offense struggled in San Francisco despite winning 2 of 3 and must get back on track. Craig Monroe is expected to be with his new team tonight but it is Derrek Lee that must find his stroke. Lee is hitting below the Mendoza Line, .163, in the Cubs last 4 road trips since July 2nd. But it all starts with Sean Marshall. The one that could most benefit from the rain last Sunday is Sean Marshall. By Carlos Zambrano pitching on short rest it forced Piniella to separate Marshall and Rich Hill in his rotation. With Marshall and Hill being very similar, Marshall probably has not been as effective as he could have been this season.
Marshall threw the ball very well his last time out against the Cardinals. He earned his first win since July 28th while holding Albert Pujols and company to 2 runs on 5 his in 5 innings. He kept the ball down for the most part but did give up 2 home runs. In his last 4 starts Marshall is 1-2 with an 8.50 ERA (17 runs on 27 hits in 18 innings with 5 home runs allowed). He has to keep the ball in the yard tonight and the “Baby Backs” off the bases.
Marshall lost to the Diamondbacks at Wrigley on July 22nd. He gave up only 1 run on 5 hits in 6 innings with 5 strikeouts and 2 walks….tonight will be his second career start against the D’Backs. Marshall is 3-2 in 8 road starts this season with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP.
The Cubs will get their second look of the season at the offensive powerhouse known as Micah Owings. The D’Backs young right-hander has been very impressive in his last 4 starts (1-1 with a 3.16 ERA), both on the mound and at the plate, and is coming off his 2nd longest outing of the year. Owings beat the Braves in Atlanta on August 18th and gave up 3 runs on 3 hits….all solo home runs, in 7 innings while striking out 7 and not giving up a free pass. In Owings last 25 2/3 innings he has struck out 24 batters and walked just 7….more than a 3:1 ratio and has started to put it together.
The Cubs struggled against Owings at Wrigley on July 21st. Owings received a no-decision but gave up just 2 runs on 4 hits in 4 innings….the Cubs lost the game on a home run by Stephen Drew in the 8th inning off of Bobby Howry.
Tonight will be Owings second career start against the Cubs. He is 3-3 in 11 starts (12 games) at home this season with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.75 WHIP.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….