Game One Hundred Forty-Four: Cubs (73-70) vs. Astros (62-81)
Game Time – 7:05pm C.T. Comcast SportsNet, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 189
Location – Minute Maid Park, Houston
Jason Marquis (11-8, 4.13/1.31) vs. Brandon Backe (0-1, 4.76/1.94)
The Cubs open a 3-game series tonight against the Houston Astros. The last time the Cubs were in Houston they were swept by the Astros but that was without Alfonso Soriano. Soriano will make his first appearance as a Cub in Houston. In 10 career games at Minute Maid, Soriano is 10-for-42 with 4 doubles, 4 home runs and 13 RBI’s. Half of Soriano’s doubles and home runs at Minute Maid came in 4 games last season.
Lou Piniella announced his rotation on Monday for the upcoming week. Rich Hill will start on Wednesday night, Steve Trachsel on Thursday and Carlos Zambrano will start the opener on Friday in St. Louis. Ted Lilly and Sean Marshall will each start a game in the Day-Night doubleheader on Saturday. Jason Marquis will pitch the finale on Sunday. Rich Hill will start the opener against the Reds on September 17th at Wrigley with both Zambrano and Lilly pitching on 3 days rest against the Reds in the final two games of the series on September 18th and 19th. The Cubs next scheduled day off is September 20th.
From Down on the Farm…. The Tennessee Smokies lost game 5 of the Southern League playoffs on Monday night to the Huntsville Stars, 8-7. The Smokies were ahead 5-1 in the 5th but gave up 6 runs between the 3rd and 5th innings. Jesse Estrada took the loss. The Smokies lost the best of 5 series, 3-2.
The Cubs must not take the Astros lightly and continue putting runs on the board. While the offense must stay on track against Brandon Backe, it all starts with Jason Marquis. Jason Marquis has been both lights out against the Astros this year and down right horrible. The Astros beat Marquis in his Wrigley Field debut on April 10th….4 runs, 3 earned, on 4 hits in 5 innings. The Astros chased Marquis from the game at Wrigley on July 15th but ended up losing game. The Cubs were able to put a lot of runs on the board that Sunday afternoon against Wandy Rodriguez and kept Marquis from getting the loss. Marquis allowed 6 runs on 8 hits in 4 innings.
The last time Marquis faced the Astros was at Wrigley on September 1st. Marquis beat the Astros and gave up just 2 runs on 5 hits in 6 2/3 innings. Marquis will be making his first start at Minute Maid tonight as a Cub.
Marquis has been keeping the ball down of late and has pitched very well. He threw a very good game against the Dodgers but received a no-decision after Ryan Dempster blew his 3rd save of the year. Marquis retired the first 14 Dodgers he faced that afternoon. In his last 2 starts Marquis is 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA. Marquis must keep the ball down tonight or it will be a long night for the bullpen.
Marquis is 1-1 in 3 starts against the Astros this season with a 6.32 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP. In 10 career games, 8 starts, at Minute Maid, Marquis is 3-2 with a complete game, a 4.26 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP. The Astros hit him pretty good at home….a .317 batting average.
Brandon Backe will make his second start of the season after having Tommy John Surgery last year. Backe was a very good pitcher for the Astros with a bright future. He was 10-8 with a 4.76 ERA in 26 games, 25 starts, in his last full season in the big leagues in 2005.
Backe lost his season debut last Tuesday to the Brewers in Milwaukee. He gave up 4 runs, 3 earned, on 8 hits with 3 walks and no strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Backe threw 91 pitches, 50 were for strikes. The Cubs must be patient against the young right hander and make him work tonight. Backe will be making his first start in Houston in over a year and should be very nervous when he takes the mound. If they allow him to settle in….
Backe is 12-4 in 18 career starts at Minute Maid Park with a 3.26 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP.
In 5 career games, 4 starts, against the Cubs….Backe is 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP.
- Cliff Floyd – 2-5
- Derrek Lee – 2-11
- Jason Marquis – 2-3
- Aramis Ramirez – 4-11, with a home run and a RBI
- Alfonso Soriano – 2-14, with 2 doubles and 2 RBI’s
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….