Game Three – National League Division Series
Best of Five – Dodgers Lead Series, 2-0
Game Time – 9:00pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: TBS – Radio: 720 WGN, ESPN Radio, XM Radio Channel 184, 189
Location – Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
Rich Harden (10-2, 2.07/1.06 – 5-1, 1.77/0.97) vs. Hiroki Kuroda (9-10, 3.73/1.22)
Tonight is simple….win and there is a Game Four on Sunday night, lose and it’s a long winter for the Chicago Cubs after the best summer of ball on the North Side of Chicago in generations.
Lou Piniella addressed his team following the game two loss on Thursday night. Reports suggested on Friday that Piniella gave a couple of his players ‘pep talks‘ in the clubhouse in both Spanish and English. Piniella denied yelling at his players and Gordon Wittenmyer, Cubs’ beat writer for the Sun-Times, told Dave Kaplan that several people he spoke with indicated the reports of Piniella yelling or dressing down his players were inaccurate but the ‘pep talk‘ did include several ‘spicy words‘, as Wittenmyer described….in both languages.
Piniella told the mainstream media on Friday that the Cubs put together the worst performances in back-to-back games in his two years as the Cubs’ manager. He added he felt it was good the team hit the road when they did despite all of the support the fans at Wrigley have given the team this season. The Cubs are not playing ball right now and maybe being on the road down 0-2 will allow the team to relax and just play….after all, what do they have to lose?
Hearing Piniella’s press conference, in the calm, cool demeanor in which it was delivered on Friday, brought up the memory of the last ‘pep talk‘ the Cubs manager delivered in St. Louis on September 9th. Piniella told his team, through the media….
“We can talk about having fun. We can talk about relaxing. You’ve got to get your damn shirts rolled up and go out and kick somebody’s ass. That’s what you got to do. Period. Period. That’s all I got to say.”
“Podemos hablar del divertir. Podemos hablar de relajante. Usted tiene que conseguir sus camisas malditas enrollaron y salen y patean alguien asno. Eso es lo que usted consiguio para hacer. Periodo. Periodo. Eso es todo consegui para decir.”
Piniella added on Friday that Mark DeRosa will start the game in right field tonight with Mike Fontenot at 2nd base….Kosuke Fukudome has been benched and will likely only be used as a late inning defensive replacement for the remainder of the season. Ryan Dempster will be available out of the pen for the Cubs tonight and in game four. If the Cubs can force a game 5 at Wrigley, Carlos Zambrano will likely get the start according to a report from the Tribune.
It is time to play ball and just win a game…. Rich Harden has been both dominating and solid in a Cubs’ uniform. Harden made 12 starts in the last 3 months of the season and put up great numbers. Harden struck out 89 batters and walked 30 in 71 innings while giving up only 39 hits. As difficult as tonight could be for the Cubs’ offense, Lou Piniella has the right pitcher starting the game. Harden has the ‘stuff’ to keep the Dodgers off the board while the offense tries to get out of their collective slump….
Harden was 1-0 in 3 starts in September with a 2.65 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP while holding opponents to a .136 batting average.
Tonight will be Rich Harden’s first career appearance against the Dodgers and his fourth career post-season start (1-2 in 3 games with a 6.43 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP in 2 games in 2003 and 1 game in 2006).
- Angel Berroa – 2-for-9 with a double
- Casey Blake – 0-for-8 with 2 walks
- Nomar Garciaparra – 0-for-4
- Manny Ramirez – 3-for-11 with 3 home runs and 3 walks
The Cubs will get their third look of the season at Hiroki Kuroda. ‘Mr. Complete Game‘ as he was known in Japan had a solid first season in the Majors and one of his two complete game shutouts came against the Cubs. Kuroda has been very good at Dodger Stadium this season, 6-2 in 14 starts with 2 complete game shutouts, a 3.78 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP.
Kuroda was 2-0 in 5 starts in September with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP but opponents hit .294 against him. Kuroda struggled in July but appeared to get a ‘second wind’ in August and September despite posting a 4-4 record in the second half with a 4.14 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. Kuroda did spend time on the DL in late June, but teams hit 31 points higher (.240/.271).
Kuroda is 1-1 in 2 starts against the Cubs this season with a 0.59 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP. The Cubs hit .204 against him. Kuroda lost to the Cubs at Wrigley Field on May 27th, 3-1. He allowed 2 runs, 1 earned, on 7 hits in 6 1/3 innings with 3 walks and 3 strikeouts. He beat the Cubs on June 6th at Dodger Stadium, 3-0. Kuroda tossed a complete game shutout and allowed 4 hits without a walk with 11 strikeouts.
- Henry Blanco – 0-for-3
- Ronny Cedeno – 1-for-3 with a walk
- Mark DeRosa – 0-for-3
- Jim Edmonds – 1-for-6
- Mike Fontenot – 0-for-4
- Kosuke Fukudome – 1-for-5 with a walk
- Derrek Lee – 2-for-6
- Aramis Ramirez – 1-for-6
- Alfonso Soriano – 3-for-7 with a walk
- Geovany Soto – 1-for-3 with a double
- Ryan Theriot – 1-for-5
How much will Lou Piniella tinker with his lineup tonight?
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….