Game Fifty-One: Cubs (29-21) vs. Dodgers (26-23)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Ryan Dempster (5-2, 2.70/1.06) vs. Chad Billingsley (4-5, 3.76/1.41)
Happy Memorial Day from everyone here at the CCO…. The Cubs will try to avoid their first three game losing streak of the season today behind Ryan Dempster. Lou Piniella’s crew is coming off a very disappointing road trip, posting just 2 wins in 6 games. They could have easily won the 4 they lost….
The Cubs will face the Dodgers for the first time with Joe Torre calling the shots. The longtime Yankee manager, and future member of Baseball’s Hall of Fame, switched coasts last winter and was handed a very talented roster. The Cubs will not have the problem of slowing down Rafael Furcal this week but will see Blake DeWitt for the first time….plus they will have the task today of beating Chad Billingsley in his first start at Wrigley.
The Cubs need a win today and a very good homestand before leaving for a week out west next Sunday. Ryan Dempster has out pitched preseason predictions and must find a way to rebound after his worst start of the season. Dempster struggled with his command against the Astros and fell behind most of the hitters he faced in 6 innings of work. His biggest mistake was one pitch to Hunter Pence that accounted for all 4 of the Astros runs.
Dempster has yet to lose a game at Wrigley this season and like the rest of his teammates performs much better in front of the home crowd than on the road. Dempster is 5-0 at the Friendly Confines with a 3.13 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. Like when he was a reliever, Dempster must throw first pitch strikes and stay ahead of the hitters, it’s when he falls behind and flattens out the slider that runs start scoring in bunches.
Dempster is 3-3 with 7 saves in 17 career games, 7 starts, against the Dodgers with a 3.03 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP.
The Cubs will not have to deal with Rafael Furcal this week (on the 15-day DL with a lower back strain and did not make the trip to Chicago after suffering a setback on Thursday) but will face the Dodgers’ very impressive rookie 3rd baseman, Blake DeWitt, for the first time.
- Andre Ethier – 3-for-4 with a home run
- Jeff Kent – 6-for-27
- Russell Martin – 1-for-2
- Juan Pierre – 3-for-6 with a double
The Cubs offense will get the challenge of figuring out Chad Billingsley for the first time. Today will be Billingsley’s third appearance against the Cubs and first career start. In two outings out of the Dodgers’ pen against the Cubs (May 26th and 27th of last season, 3 innings of shutout ball on the 26th and a perfect inning of relief on the 27th for the win) he has yet to allow a run.
Billingsley is coming off two very impressive wins. He allowed only 1 run on 3 hits in 7 innings at Miller Park to the Brewers on May 15th and threw 7 innings of shutout ball against the Reds on May 20th. In his last two starts (14 innings) Billingsley has allowed 1 run on 7 hits with 12 strikeouts and 6 walks….he is 2-2 in 5 games, 4 starts, on the road this season with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP.
Jim Edmonds has the most plate appearances of any Cub on the roster against Billingsley….he is 0-for-6 with 2 walks. Alfonso Soriano has the only hit, a single, in 3 trips to the plate.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….