Game One Hundred Forty: Cubs (85-54) vs. Astros (73-66)
Game Time – 7:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Ryan Dempster (15-5, 2.95/1.19) vs. Randy Wolf (8-11, 4.73/1.44)
Updated – 4:25pm C.T. – According to reports from the Sun-Times, Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to have an MRI on his shoulder and the results are not expected today. Zambrano will likely miss his next start in Cincinnati on Sunday. The Sun-Times reported Kevin Hart will join the Cubs sooner than expected and was recalled on Wednesday afternoon.
No two ways about it…. The Cubs are playing bad ball right now and are in need of a win today. After dropping four in a row at home for the first time this season it is up to Ryan Dempster to stop the proverbial bleeding. Dempster was pushed back a day to get him a little rest and with Lou Piniella using his entire pen on Tuesday night, including Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood for two innings each, the Cubs need a good, long quality outing from one of their All-Stars tonight.
Rich Harden was originally scheduled to start tonight’s game but has been pushed back until at least the second game of the Cardinals series next week.
The bottom line….the Cubs must salvage the finale tonight. Ryan Dempster is coming off the first start in which he allowed more than 2 earned runs since July 13th. Dempster did not have his best stuff and gave up 4 runs on 8 hits in 6 innings to the Phillies but kept his team in the game. Dempster received a no decision after Mike Fontenot and Aramis Ramirez went yard in the 8th. Dempster was just as good in August (3-1 in 5 starts with a 3.19 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP) as he was in July (3-1 in 6 starts with a 1.99 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP).
Many are concerned about Dempster running out of gas down the stretch after spending his previous three seasons in the pen….and he showed signs of fatigue in his last start. Dempster missed high most of the night and walked 4 batters for the first time since July 8th. In his previous 8 starts Dempster walked more than 3 batters only once (July 25th against the Marlins). Dempster must throw strikes and pickup the win he missed out on back in the storms on August 4th. The Astros won the rain shortened game and Dempster did not return after the first rain delay.
Dempster is 1-2 in 3 starts versus the Astros this season with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. Hunter Pence (4-for-8 with a grand slam), Carlos Lee (4-for-8) and Miguel Tejada (3-for-9 with a double) have done a majority of the damage for the Astros this season.
- Brad Ausmus – 6-for-25 with 3 doubles
- Lance Berkman – 12-for-32 with a double and 3 home runs
- Geoff Blum – 11-for-36 with a double and 5 walks
- Darin Erstad – 0-for-6
- Mark Loretta – 4-for-14 with a double and a home run
- David Newhan – 1-for-6
- Hunter Pence – 4-for-11 with a home run
- Miguel Tejada – 3-for-9 with a double
- Ty Wigginton – 2-for-11
- Randy Wolf – 3-for-8
The last time the Cubs saw Randy Wolf was in Wrigley back on May 12th in a Padres’ uniform. The Cubs scored early and often and chased Wolf after 4 innings. Wolf allowed 7 runs on 8 hits with 5 walks and 2 strikeouts. Wolf has pitched rather well for Cecil Cooper and posted a 2-1 record in 6 starts last month with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. The Astros are 6-1 in his 7 starts since being traded to Houston.
Wolf has struggled on the road this season for the Padres and Astros. He is 1-7 in 14 starts with a 6.87 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP….more than 4 runs per 9 innings difference, 2.81 ERA at home and a 1.24 WHIP.
The veteran southpaw is 2-6 in 13 career starts versus the Cubs with a 4.98 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP, at Wrigley 1-4 in 7 career starts with a 5.36 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP.
- Henry Blanco – 2-for-8 with a double
- Ryan Dempster – 1-for-7
- Mark DeRosa – 5-for-26
- Jim Edmonds – 1-for-10
- Kosuke Fukudome – 0-for-1 with 2 walks
- Reed Johnson – 0-for-2
- Derrek Lee – 8-for-32 with 2 doubles and a triple
- Aramis Ramirez – 4-for-16 with a double and a home run
- Alfonso Soriano – 2-for-11 with a home run
- Geovany Soto – 1-for-2
- Ryan Theriot – 2-for-5
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….