Game One Hundred Forty-One: Cubs (85-55) vs. Reds (62-78)
Game Time – 6:10pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 189
Location – Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati
Ted Lilly (13-8, 4.23/1.29) vs. Bronson Arroyo (13-10, 4.97/1.46)
With 22 games remaining in the 2008 season, the Chicago Cubs begin a difficult and important 9-game road trip tonight in Cincinnati that includes stops in St. Louis and Houston. The Cubs will enter play 5 games ahead of the Brewers in the loss column and in search of their first win since last Friday at Wrigley against the Phillies.
The Cubs are struggling and once the calendar flipped to September tightened up on the field. The entire team must relax and just play ball. While that is easier said than done, all of the attention and expectations from the season have come down to the final 3 1/2 weeks of the year. A win would do wonders for not only every player on the team but for all of Cubdom.
The Cubs received a breather on Thursday and should have a little more energy tonight than they did at Wrigley on Wednesday. They have two more scheduled days off before the end of the season, one on Monday before the Cardinals series and one next Monday before they open the final homestand of the season against the Brewers. The two remaining off days will not only help the position players stay fresh but will give Lou Piniella a little more flexibility with his rotation as he waits for Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden to return to the mound.
The Reds season has not gone as planned and they would have to win 20 of their remaining 22 games in order to avoid their eighth straight losing season. Injuries to Aaron Harang and Johnny Cueto have raised several questions about Dusty Baker’s use of his pitching staff. Baker is still owed around $7 million dollars over the remaining two years of the 3-year deal he signed last October and should be at the helm next season.
The Redlegs always appear to play their best ball of the season against the Cubs and one of the newest Cub Killers, Joey Votto, is the best example. If not for Geovany Soto, Joey Votto would be the NL Rookie of the Year. Votto has put together a tremendous first full year, and he has done most of the damage against the Cubs’ pitching staff.
Votto’s line against the Cubs this season is borderline ridiculous: .364/.404/.909/1.313 (16-for-44) in 12 games with 3 doubles, 7 home runs and 13 RBI’s. Votto has hit 16 total home runs on the season with 65 RBI’s. For his short career Votto’s hit 20 home runs….8 against the Cubs in 18 games. Another young Red to keep an eye on in this series is Chris Dickerson. The 26-year old rookie has hit .320 with a .414 OBP in 19 games with 6 home runs since replacing Adam Dunn in left field.
The Cubs just need to relax, not take the Reds for granted, have fun and play ball this weekend…. Ted Lilly is coming off another quality start against the Phillies and despite the loss, threw the ball pretty good. Lilly allowed 3 runs in 6 hits in 6 2/3 innings with 5 strikeouts and no walks. Lilly’s only mistakes were to Jayson Werth….who accounted for all three runs scored off Lilly last Saturday afternoon.
Lilly had a very good August and has turned in a quality start in 7 of his last 8 games dating back to July 18th. Lilly was 3-2 in 6 starts last month with a 3.35 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP while holding teams to a .237 batting average. Lilly’s biggest problem this season has been the 30 home runs allowed in 29 games. The Reds have the power, and in their park, the confidence to tack on a few more dingers to Lilly’s season total….it is up to Lilly to keep the ball in the park and if they do go yard, make sure they are of the solo variety.
Lilly is 0-3 against the Reds this season with a 6.32 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. The Big Red Machine has hit 3 home runs and scored 11 runs off Lilly in just 15 2/3 innings. Tonight will be his first start of the season at Great American Ball Park….he is 1-0 in 2 career starts in Cincinnati with a 1.00 ERA and a 0.44 WHIP.
Reds stats this season against Lilly:
- Bronson Arroyo – 0-for-3
- Paul Bako – 0-for-3
- Jay Bruce – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Chris Dickerson – 0-for-3
- Edwin Encarnacion – 4-for-7 with 2 doubles and a home run
- Jeff Keppinger – 2-for-7 with a walk
- Brandon Phillips – 1-for-5 with a home run
- Joey Votto – 4-for-8 with a double and a home run
The Cubs offense will not get a break tonight against Bronson Arroyo. After a week of facing pitchers at the top of their game, Lou Piniella’s crew might be facing one of the hottest pitchers in all of baseball. Arroyo has been just about unhittable of late and has allowed a total of 4 earned runs in his last 3 starts (23 innings). Arroyo is throwing strikes and keeping the ball down….since August 4th, only 2 home runs allowed 6 starts (41 1/3 innings).
Arroyo was 4-2 with a complete game in 6 starts last month with a 2.61 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. Easily his best month of the season and one of his dominating starts came against the Cubs on August 20th. The Cubs managed only 1 run on 3 hits in 7 innings with 5 walks and 4 strikeouts against Arroyo.
Arroyo is 2-0 in 2 starts this season versus the Cubs with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP.
The Cubs offense must be patient tonight and make him work. Over the last 5 games they have gone away from what made them successful….well, before last week. The entire team must relax at the plate and take advantage of the opportunities the Reds will give them.
- Ronny Cedeno – 3-for-15 with a double
- Mark DeRosa – 9-for-18 with a double and a home run
- Jim Edmonds – 7-for-29 with a double and a home run
- Mike Fontenot – 2-for-3 with a double and a home run
- Kosuke Fukudome – 0-for-6
- Reed Johnson – 3-for-11
- Derrek Lee – 6-for-26 with a double and 2 home runs
- Ted Lilly – 0-for-6
- Aramis Ramirez – 8-for-33 with a double and a home run
- Alfonso Soriano – 8-for-36 with 5 doubles and a home run
- Geovany Soto – 1-for-5
- Ryan Theriot – 6-for-21 with a double
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….