Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Nationals – 08/24/08

Game One Hundred Thirty: Cubs (79-50) vs. Nationals (46-84)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 184
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Rich Harden (8-2, 2.04/1.08, 3-1, 1.50/0.95) vs. Jason Bergmann (2-9, 4.50/1.37)

The Cubs have a chance today to accomplish a feat the organization has not been able to do since 1937 and that is win eight consecutive series. Lou Piniella will send Rich Harden to the mound in not only the rubber game of the series against the Nationals but in the rubber game of the homestand. The Cubs won 2 of 3 against the Reds and a victory today would give the Cubs a 4-2 homestand.

The Cubs’ staff became the first in the majors to reach the 1,000 strikeout mark on the season on Saturday and figure to add to the 1,004 k’s they have notched so far this season with Harden on the mound today. The Cubs have led the league in strikeouts in every season since 2001.

After leaving in the 7th inning on Saturday, Derrek Lee’s status for today’s game is uncertain at best. Reports indicated heat was applied to Lee’s upper back spasms in order to try to get him on the field today. Look for Daryle Ward or super-sub Mark DeRosa at first base today.

According to several reports, Lou Piniella is planning on talking to Kosuke Fukudome before this afternoon’s game. The Cubs need Fukudome to start hitting again and Piniella thinks Fukudome is “in-between“. Piniella said Kosuke is “behind on the fastball and slightly ahead on the breaking ball” and one of the two have to be hit with consistency. Fukudome is a key down the stretch for the Cubs, along with Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano. The Cubs need Fukudome to perform somewhere in between his incredible start and his struggles in July….

In other news…. It appears Angel Guzman will be one of the players called up when the rosters expand on September 1st. According to a report on Cubs.com, Guzman will be eligible to come off the DL at the completion of his 30-day rehab assignment next Monday. If Guzman is one of the September call-ups a 40-man roster move will be required. The Cubs 40-man roster currently stands at 38 and many reports are suggesting Koyie Hill will be called up as a reward for a good season at Iowa and his loyalty to the organization. Hill’s put together a very good season in Triple-A and deserves, for more than one reason, to be with the Cubs down the stretch. If Hill is added to the 40-man, that would leave one spot in order for the Cubs to activate Guzman from the 60-day DL.

Micah Hoffpauir and Felix Pie appear to be the other locks for a call-up next week as well as Jon Lieber being activated from the DL. The report on Cubs.com indicated the organization could promote players from Double-A to help the I-Cubs in the playoffs while players such as Pie, Hoffpauir and Hill are sent to Chicago to help with the bigger organizational goal.

While Rich Harden is not garnering the national attention that a certain southpaw in Arthur Fonzarelli’s hometown is, Harden has been very, very good in a Cubs’ uniform. Harden has posted a win in his last three decisions, the Cubs are 4-0 over the same span and his new team is 5-2 in his 7 starts since coming over from Oakland.

Harden will make a start today, in the daylight, after telling his new skipper he prefers to pitch at night in cooler weather. The results show Harden is better under the lights (6-1 in 11 starts with a 1.45 ERA and a 0.86 ERA) and Ryan Dempster’s gem on Saturday could pay dividends again today for Lou Piniella. All but Carlos Marmol (2/3 of an inning, 4 pitches) and Sean Marshall (1 inning, 18 pitches) received the day off and if Harden has to be lifted after 5 innings, Piniella should have a rested bullpen at his disposal.

Like the remaining of the schedule, today is an important game for the Cubs.

Harden is coming off an impressive win against the Reds, his first at Wrigley, and for the fourth time in seven starts struck out 10 batters in 7 strong innings. Harden surrendered only 2 hits and the key was….no walks for the second time since making his Cub debut on July 12th.

Harden’s line since coming to Chicago is impressive:

3-1 in 7 starts (42 innings), 8 runs, 7 earned, on 26 hits with 14 walks and 59 strikeouts.

Today will be the first career start for Harden against the Nationals franchise.

  • Ronnie Belliard – 0-for-4
  • Cristian Guzman – 0-for-3
  • Willie Harris – 0-for-5

The Cubs will face Jason Bergmann for the first time this season after beating him once in two tries a year ago. Bergmann is coming off a no decision in his last outing against the Phillies in D.C. Bergmann gave up 4 runs, 3 earned, on 6 hits in 6 1/3 innings. The Nationals lost 5-4.

Bergmann’s last win came in Colorado on August 7th and he tossed a gem. Bergmann held the Rockies to 1 run on 7 hits in 7 innings with 7 strikeouts and only 2 walks. On the road this year, Bergmann is 2-6 with a complete game in 11 outings, 10 starts, with a 3.84 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP.

The Cubs must make Bergmann work. In his last 4 starts he has walked 11 batters in 22 1/3 innings and is 1-1 over that span with a 6.04 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP while opponents have hit an even .300 against him.

Bergmann is 0-1 in 2 career starts against the Cubs with a 4.76 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP….the Cubs beat him at Wrigley on May 4, 2007 and Bergmann allowed 5 runs, 4 earned, on 8 hits in 6 innings.

  • Mark DeRosa – 0-for-2
  • Mike Fontenot – 1-for-3
  • Reed Johnson – 0-for-1
  • Derrek Lee – 2-for-3 with a home run
  • Aramis Ramirez – 2-for-6 with a double
  • Alfonso Soriano – 2-for-7 with a double
  • Daryle Ward – 2-for-3 with a double

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….

Quote of the Day

"What scares me is what scares you. We're all afraid of the same things." - John Carpenter

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