Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Astros – 09/02/07

Game One Hundred Thirty-Five: Cubs (69-65) vs. Astros (61-75)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T. WGN TV, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 184
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Rich Hill (8-7, 3.68/1.18) vs. Woody Williams (8-13, 5.04/1.39)

Today is the 35th Anniversary of the last time a Cubs pitcher threw a no-hitter. Milt Pappas no-hit the Padres on September 2, 1972 and it was a two-out walk in the 9th that kept Pappas from throwing a perfect game. The controversial call from home plate umpire, Bruce Froemming is still discussed to this day. Pappas is scheduled to throw out the first pitch today and sing the 7th inning stretch.

The Cubs’ offense showed signs of life on Saturday and it was good to see contributions from the “Big 3”. Lou Piniella needs his “stars” to perform to the level that gave them their elite status down the stretch and Saturday was a good start. Ronny Cedeno is scheduled to start at short today so the offense will be missing one of its spark plugs. Cedeno is very talented and it is time for him to take the next step. Today would be a good time for a breakout game, especially with Rich Hill on the mound.

Rich Hill is the only pitcher in the Cubs rotation coming off a month in which his ERA was below 4.00. Hill was 2-1 in 6 starts in August with a 3.99 ERA and received two no decisions in which he allowed a combined 3 runs. Rich Hill’s biggest problem this season has been the Cubs offense. Hill has received the least amount of run support than any other pitcher in the National League.

Hill’s most impressive stat in August was not his win or loss record, not his ERA and not his WHIP….it was his strikeout to walk ratio. Hill struck out 41 and walked 10 and in his last 2 starts (14 innings) he struck out 19 and walked 1. Hill obviously has pitched much better than he did in the middle of the season….it is about time the offense rewarded him with a lot of support.

Today will be Hill’s second start of the season against the Astros. He received a no-decision against them in Houston on August 6th, 1 run on 3 hits with 6 strikeouts and 2 walks in 7 innings. For his career, Hill is 1-0 in 3 games (1 start) against the Astros with a 0.96 ERA and a 0.64 WHIP.

Hill is 5-2 in 12 starts at Wrigley this season with a 3.63 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP, opponents are hitting .245 against Hill at home this season.

The Cubs enigma that is known as Woody Williams….. Lou Piniella’s offense has struggled against pitchers like Williams all season. If there were such a term as a “Crafty Righty“, Williams would fit that description. He will not overpower anyone at this point of his career, he will just kind of lull an offense to sleep, and he has done that quite well against the Cubs once again this year. Williams will be making his 4th start of the season against the Cubs, he is 1-1 with a 2.37 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP while holding them to a .206 batting average….his best line against any team he has faced more than once this season.

Williams was 3-1 with a 4.66 ERA in 7 games, 6 starts, in August but is coming off his worst start since the end of June. Williams gave up 6 runs on 8 hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Cardinals at Minute Maid.

The Cubs had Williams on the ropes the last time they faced him. Bases loaded, no outs and 1 run scored, they let him off the hook and lost the game in the 1st inning. The overly aggressive offense must start the game very patient at the plate and remain that way the entire afternoon.

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon