Game One Hundred Fifteen: Cubs (68-46) vs. Astros (54-58)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Jason Marquis (6-7, 4.68/1.45) vs. Brandon Backe (6-10, 4.72/1.56)
Lou Piniella’s crew completes a very difficult stretch of games today that began on July 18th in Houston. The Cubs will finally receive a day off on Thursday following 20 straight, the maximum allowed by rule, and after posting just 4 wins in the first 10 games, the Cubs have won 7 of their last 9 and created a little separation in the Central Division standings.
The Cubs have a very important game this afternoon against a division rival at home that must not be overlooked. The Cubs have not won a series against the Astros since the first week of the year and win coupled with the off day on Thursday would be a good way to prepare for the arrival of the Cardinals for the upcoming weekend series.
Jason Marquis has not posted a win since June 21st and his team in 2-4 in his last 6 starts. Marquis needs to put together a solid outing and put a victory on the board against Brandon Backe. While Jason Marquis pitched good enough to pick up a win against the Pirates in his last start, he struggled with his command as he teammates struggled with their patience at the plate. Marquis did not find a rhythm and gave up 3 runs on 8 hits in 6 innings in a 3-0 loss to the Pirates….a game that did not feel as close as the final score.
Marquis must throw strikes today and not give the Astros any help….plus a good pace on the mound will not allow his teammates to fall back on their heals. The Cubs have a solid defense and when Marquis has pitched to contact in the past and located his sinker, he’s had his best results. It is time for Marquis to pitch to the level of his talent….or he will continue to be skipped when he turn in the rotation comes around.
Marquis is 8-5 in 24 career games, 19 starts, against the Astros with a 5.20 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP and today will be his second start of this season against Houston. Marquis received a no decision in his first game of the year back on April 5th and gave up 5 runs, 4 earned, on 8 hits in 5 1/3 innings but the Cubs beat the Astros, 9-7 for their second win of the year.
At Wrigley this season, Marquis is 3-4 in 11 starts with a 5.68 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP while teams have hit .309 against him.
- Lance Berkman – 19-for-39 with 5 doubles, a triple, a home run and 11 walks
- Geoff Blum – 4-for-15 with 2 doubles
- Darin Erstad – 1-for-4 with a double
- Carlos Lee – 10-for-29 with 2 doubles and 3 home runs
- Mark Loretta – 4-for-19 with a double
- Kaz Matsui – 3-for-13
- Hunter Pence – 4-for-10 with a double and a triple
- Humberto Quintero – 2-for-5 with a double
- Miguel Tejada – 0-for-2
- Ty Wigginton – 7-for-16 with a triple
If Marquis struggles early, do not be surprised to see Sean Marshall summoned from the pen. Marshall is 1-4 in 5 starts against the Astros with a respectable 4.00 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP.
- Lance Berkman – 4-for-14 with a double
- Carlos Lee – 1-for-3
- Kaz Matsui – 0-for-3
- Hunter Pence – 1-for-2 with a home run
Brandon Backe lost to the Cubs and Ryan Dempster 9-0 in the first Sunday following the break in Houston on July 20th. Backe gave up 4 runs on 8 hits in 6 2/3 innings in a game that was much closer than the final score indicates. Backe has turned in a quality start in his last outing against the Mets but has not posted a win since July 13th at Nationals Park.
Backe gave up 3 runs on 10 hits in 6 innings to the Mets in his last outing, did not receive a decision and the Astros won the game 7-3.
Today will be Backe’s third start of the season against the Cubs. He is 0-1 with a 4.26 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP in 12 2/3 innings (6 runs on 14 hits with 3 walks and 15 strikeouts). For his career, Backe is 2-2 in 8 games, 7 starts, versus the Cubs with a 4.75 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP….at Wrigley, 1-1 in 4 games, 3 starts, with a 5.63 ERA and a 1.88 WHIP while the Cubs have hit .338 against him.
The offense must not swing early and often today against Backe….like most teams do at the end of a long stretch of games.
- Mark DeRosa – 2-for-9 with a home run
- Jim Edmonds – 4-for-14 with 4 walks
- Mike Fontenot – 2-for-3 with a home run
- Kosuke Fukudome – 1-for-5 with a double
- Reed Johnson – 1-for-5 with a home run
- Derrek Lee – 4-for-18 with 2 doubles
- Jason Marquis – 2-for-5
- Aramis Ramirez – 7-for-19 with a home run
- Alfonso Soriano – 4-for-20 with 2 doubles and a home run
- Geovany Soto – 0-for-3 with 2 walks
- Ryan Theriot – 2-for-8 with 2 walks
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….