Game One Hundred Sixty: Cubs (96-63) vs. Brewers (89-71)
Game Time – 2:55pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: FOX Saturday Baseball – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Miller Park, Milwaukee
Ted Lilly (16-9, 4.17/1.25) vs. Ben Sheets (13-8, 2.98/1.13)
After a lackluster performance on Friday night at Miller Park, one of Lou Piniella’s crews will get back to work today against the Brewers’ longtime ace Ben Sheets. The Brewers could clinch a playoff spot today with a win and a Mets’ loss….Johan Santana will pitch on 3 days rest against the Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco, first pitch at 12:10 C.T. Their magic number is down to two and if the Brewers make the post-season for the first time since 1982, Manny Ramirez, Rafael Furcal and the red hot Dodgers would be the Cubs’ first round opponent.
Ben Sheets was penciled in for this start for a week, then scratched on Thursday just to be inked in on Friday. The Brewers have no idea what they will get from Sheets in his first start since facing the Cubs on September 17th. The experts called Sheets last start against the Cubs the biggest and most important of his career….wonder how today’s game will be labeled in what could be his last in a Brewers’ uniform. In a weird twist however, the Brewers’ bullpen has been performing quite well over the last week while the Cubs’ pen has struggled.
Lou Piniella announced on Friday that Jason Marquis and Bobby Howry would pitch out of the pen in the post-season. There is still one spot left on the 11-man staff for fall ball and according to multiple reports Piniella will decide between Chad Gaudin and Jeff Samardzija to round out his pen.
With Ryan Dempster starting game one, Carlos Zambrano in game two, Rich Harden in game three and Ted Lilly in game four, the other six spots appear to be Carlos Marmol, Kerry Wood, Neal Cotts, Sean Marshall, Jason Marquis and Bobby Howry.
The 2008 Chicago Cubs will play only a 161 game schedule and not 162. The postponed third game in the Houston series because of Hurricane Ike will not be made up on Monday. The Astros were eliminated from playoff contention when the Brewers beat the Cubs on Firday night….Opening Day in 2009 should be very interesting.
On the injury front, it appears Geovany Soto is fine after leaving Friday night’s game in the 6th inning. Soto was lifted for precautionary reasons after aggravating the injury on his left hand. Soto could be back in the lineup on Sunday along with Mark DeRosa in the finale of the 2008 season…..look for Henry Blanco behind the plate today.
Kerry Wood should pitch in the next two games regardless of the score. Wood did not pitch in what could have been the Cubs last game at Shea on Thursday and did not pitch in the opener on Friday. With off days on Monday and Tuesday, Wood will not miss that much consecutive time on the mound.
And lastly, Lou Piniella appeared very irritated during Friday’s game and his post game quotes reinforced his demeanor. An unhappy Piniella is a good thing in a ‘meaningless game’….he will have his team ready to play and win on Wednesday. Ted Lilly was the winning pitcher last Saturday when the Cubs clinched the Central Division crown. Lilly had a gem going until a 3-run home run by Troy Glaus in the 6th turned a 5-1 lead to a 5-4 lead with one swing of the bat. Lilly gave up 4 runs on 6 hits in 7 innings and earned his career high 17th win of the season.
Lilly is 3-1 in his last 4 starts with a 3.75 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP….and away from Wrigley, 9-4 in 18 starts with a 3.89 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP.
Today will be Lilly’s third start of the season against the Brewers. He was 0-1 in the first two with a 5.91 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP (7 runs on 12 hits in 10 2/3 innings with a walk and 8 strikeouts).
- Russell Branyan – 1-for-2
- Ryan Braun – 5-for-10 with a double and 2 home runs
- Mike Cameron – 7-for-25 with a double and a home run
- Ray Durham – 3-for-12 with a triple
- Prince Fielder – 5-for-12 with a double
- Bill Hall – 2-for-11
- J.J. Hardy – 3-for-14 with a home run
- Corey Hart – 4-for-13 with 3 doubles
- Jason Kendall – 4-for-14 with 2 doubles
- Ben Sheets – 0-for-1
- Rickie Weeks – 2-for-11 with 2 home runs
The last time Ben Sheets pitched was against the Cubs 10 days ago. Sheets left after only 2 innings of work but the Brewers bullpen shutdown the Cubs offense and the Brewers won the middle game of the series. Sheets has not posted a win since September 6th and the Brewers are 2-2 in his last 4 starts. After struggling in July, Sheets is 3-4 in his last 9 starts, in his last 4 ….1-1 with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP.
Sheets is 1-1 in 4 starts against the Cubs this season with a 4.82 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP.
Cubs’ stats against Sheets this season:
- Jim Edmonds – 0-for-1
- Mike Fontenot – 1-for-3
- Kosuke Fukudome – 3-for-8 with a double, a triple and a walk
- Reed Johnson – 0-for-2
- Derrek Lee – 2-for-9 with a home run
- Felix Pie – 0-for-3
- Aramis Ramirez – 3-for-7 with 2 doubles, a home run and 3 walks
- Alfonso Soriano – 1-for-7
- Geovany Soto – 3-for-7 with 2 walks
- Ryan Theriot – 1-for-9
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….