Game One Hundred Thirty-Four: Cubs (68-65) vs. Astros (61-74)
Game Time – 12:05pm C.T. Comcast SportsNet, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 184
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Jason Marquis (10-8, 4.26/1.35) vs. Troy Patton (0-1, 4.76/1.31)
The Cubs roller coaster of a year enters the final month of the regular season today. For the first time in two years the Cubs will play meaningful games in September and they control their own destiny. They enter play today a game and a half ahead of the Brewers and two up on the Cardinals. While the remaining games on the schedule look very favorable for the Cubs, if the games were played on paper they would have a comfortable lead in the division already.
Lou Piniella’s crew needs to start the new month off with a solid offensive performance today and pick-up a much-needed win against a southpaw. Piniella will receive some help today in the form of call-ups from the minors. Several of the everyday players need a breather and how the “kids” play in limited roles will have an impact down the stretch. The Cubs are expected to bring in 5-6 players in the next few days with Ronny Cedeno being one of the first. Geovany Soto, Carmen Pignatiello, Will Ohman and Sean Gallagher are also expected to rejoin the big league club soon. Another name that has been mentioned is Kevin Hart, but with Steve Trachsel back in Chicago, Hart could be left in Double-A to finish out their season. Angel Guzman appeared to be on his way back as well. He was scheduled to make a rehab stint with Peoria but he experienced problems with his right forearm according to a report on Cubs.com and his start with the Chiefs has been postponed.
Forget all of the problems over the past month. Lou Piniella needs to see a solid performance from his entire team today. Jason Marquis has been very inconsistent an unpredictable all season, except for in games following a loss. Marquis’ teammates need him to step up today and give them a quality outing and put a win on the board.
Like the rest of the team, Marquis is coming off a tough month. He was 2-2 with a 4.45 ERA in 5 starts and should have posted a 3-2 record. Marquis was tremendous in San Francisco but stumbled in his last start. The offense gave him an early lead but Marquis struggled with himself and gave up 5 runs on 6 hits in 5 1/3 innings. Marquis must keep the ball down today against a very dangerous Astros’ team. While they have under performed all season, Cecil Cooper has them playing good ball right now, they have won 3 in a row.
Marquis received a no decision the last time he faced the Astros on July 15th at Wrigley, he gave up 6 runs on 8 hits in 4 innings.
The Cubs will get their first look at lefty Troy Patton. Patton will make his second big league start today. He lost his big league debut against the Pirates on August 25th. Patton gave up 3 runs on 6 hits in 5 2/3 innings with 4 strikeouts and 2 walks. Patton is the Astros’ top rated pitching prospect according to Baseball America (ranked second overall behind Hunter Pence). Baseball America projects Patton as a number 2 starter at the Major League level. Patton has a fastball that ranges between 89-94 MPH and is very tough on right-handed batters.
Patton was 4-2 in 8 starts with the Round Rock Express (Triple-A) with a 4.59 ERA. At Double-A Corpus Christi, Patton was 6-6 in 16 starts with a 2.99 ERA. In 151 1/3 innings at the minor league level this season, Patton struck out 93, walked 44 and gave up 140 hits.
It could be another long day for the offense if they do not make Patton work.
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