Game One Hundred Thirteen: Cubs (67-45) vs. Astros (53-57)
Game Time – 6:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WCIU, ESPN Monday Night Baseball – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 174, 183
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Ryan Dempster (12-4, 2.90/1.15) vs. Brian Moehler (6-4, 4.23/1.36)
Updated – 9:59pm C.T. – A restart time of 10:20pm C.T. was Announced
Updated – 11:54pm C.T. – Game Called – It is a final – 2-0, Houston
Lou Piniella’s crew opens a big 3-game series tonight against the red hot Houston Astros. The ‘Stros are coming off their first 3-game sweep of the Mets since 1993 and have won 8 of their last 10, including taking two of three from the Brewers in Miller Park. Ed Wade, the Astros’ GM, made two additions to his team before the trading deadline. Wade traded for Randy Wolf from the Padres and for LaTroy Hawkins after the Yankees designated him for assignment. The Astros feel they can still make the post season and enter play tonight just 4 games under .500. Cecil Cooper’s team may be 13 games behind the Cubs but they are only 8 games back of the Brewers in the National League Wild Card standings with four teams ahead of them.
The Cubs have not played good ball against the Astros this season and must start showing improvement tonight. After winning 2 of 3 against Houston in April at Wrigley, the Cubs have dropped 4 of 6 to the Astros at Minute Maid and find themselves with a 4-5 record on the season with 9 left to play before the end of the year.
Derrek Lee is expected to get the night off after struggling of late at the plate. Lee is just 1-for-his-last-19 and appeared tired throughout the weekend series against the Pirates. Daryle Ward has good career numbers against Brian Moehler and Lee will receive a long break after a day game on Sunday.
Ryan Dempster will have the task of cooling off the Astros lineup and giving his skipper innings. Kerry Wood is reportedly making progress and threw off a mound on Sunday. Wood could be activated during the series against the Astros but it appears more likely that Wood will make his first appearance since July 11th against the Cardinals this weekend. With Wood out and the bullpen used quite frequently during the weekend series against the Pirates, an efficient 7-inning outing by Dempster would go a long way towards a win tonight for the Cubs.
While the Cubs have a favorable home schedule during the month of August, tonight is the last night game for the Cubs until next Sunday against the Cardinals. After Sunday, the Cubs have only three night games remaining on the schedule for August….. Ryan Dempster is coming off a gem in his last start against the Brewers and has allowed only 2 earned runs in his last 3 games. Dempster held the Brewers offense to 1 run on 5 hits in 7 innings with only 1 walk and 9 strikeouts….and the last time he gave up more than 1 run in a single outing was in his last start of the first half against the Giants on July 13th.
Dempster last faced the Astros on the first Sunday following the All-Star break. He tossed 8 innings of shutout ball and picked up his first road win of the season. Dempster must throw strikes tonight and not give the Astros any help.
Dempster is 10-1 in 13 games at Wrigley this season with a 2.72 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP.
Tonight will be Dempster’s third start of the season against the Astros. Dempster lost to the ‘Stros in Houston after Hunter Pence hit a grand slam back in May but picked up the win in Houston the last time he faced Carlos Lee and Company.
Dempster is 1-1 against Houston this season with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP….for his career, 4-8 in 39 games, 13 starts, with 16 saves, a 4.58 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP.
- Brad Ausmus – 6-for-25 with 3 doubles
- Lance Berkman – 12-for-40 with 4 home runs and 11 walks
- Geoff Blum – 11-for-36 with a double and 5 walks
- Michael Bourn – 0-for-3
- Darin Erstad – 0-for-4
- Carlos Lee – 5-for-15 with 2 doubles and a home run
- Mark Loretta – 4-for-14 with a double and a home run
- Kaz Matsui – 1-for-8
- Hunter Pence – 3-for-9 with a home run
- Miguel Tejada – 2-for-6 with a double
Brian Moehler mesmerized the Cubs offense in the first game back following the All-Star break. The Cubs were overly aggressive at the plate and managed only one run on 4 hits in 7 innings….with only one walk. The lone run was a solo home run by Jim Edmonds in the 5th inning.
Moehler is coming off a win against the Reds in which he gave up 2 runs on 7 hits in 8 2/3 innings. Moehler has not lost posted a loss since the 4th of July and has been inconsistent at best this season. Before coming within an out of a complete game against the Reds, he gave up 6 runs, 5 earned, on 9 hits in 2 1/3 innings against the Pirates on July 23rd.
The Cubs must make him work tonight or they will struggle once again against the crafty-righty.
Moehler is 2-2 in 8 games, 6 starts, on the road this season with a 4.63 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP while opponents have hit more than 30 points higher against him on the road…. .293/.260. For his career, Moehler does not have a record in 2 games, 1 start, at Wrigley and the Cubs have scored 4 runs on 9 hits in 7 innings.
Moehler is 0-1 in his first two starts against the Cubs this season with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. In 8 career games, 5 starts, versus Chicago, Moehler is 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP.
- Henry Blanco – 1-for-4 with a double
- Ronny Cedeno – 1-for-4
- Mark DeRosa – 1-for-7
- Jim Edmonds – 13-for-37 with 4 doubles and 6 home runs
- Mike Fontenot – 1-for-4 with a double
- Kosuke Fukudome – 1-for-5
- Derrek Lee – 1-for-8 with a home run
- Aramis Ramirez – 5-for-17 with a double and a triple
- Alfonso Soriano – 4-for-9 with a double
- Geovany Soto – 2-for-6 with a home run
- Ryan Theriot – 1-for-6 with a double
- Daryle Ward – 6-for-14 with 3 doubles
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….