Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Reds – 04/21/09

Game Twelve: Cubs (7-4) vs. Reds (7-5)
Game Time – 7:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 186
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Rich Harden (0-1, 5.00/1.56) vs. Micah Owings (0-1, 7.20/1.40)

After Sunday’s rainout and Monday’s scheduled off day, Lou Piniella’s crew returns to work tonight against a very familiar foe…Dusty Baker and the Cincinnati Reds. The Cubs won eight of the 15 games against the Reds last season and many of the experts predicted the Reds would be in the race for the Central Division crown all season.

The Reds just finished taking three of four from the Astros in Houston and their offense will receive a boost with the expected return of Jay Bruce…Bruce missed the last three games with a bruise on his right hand.

The Reds have an excellent young team and one of the best rotations in the National League. Their offense has sputtered over the first 12 games. The Reds are last in all of baseball in team batting average (.210) and extra bases hits (25).

Milton Bradley is expected back in the starting lineup tonight after missing longer than the three to five days expected after he left in the sixth inning back on April 12.

Sean Marshall will be available out of the pen for the next two games. Marshal was slated to start on Wednesday night against Johnny Cueto but with the rainout on Sunday, Ted Lilly will start instead…Marshall will resume his starting role during the upcoming three-game weekend series in St. Louis.

Which Rich Harden will show up tonight? Harden says he is healthy and ready to go. The Cubs could have pushed Harden to Wednesday but did not, which is a good sign. Harden said he started throwing instead of pitching after Garrett Atkins’ 14-pitch at bat in his last start…and he will have to be on top of his game tonight against a team that is looking to breakout of their offensive slump.

The Reds always play their best ball against the Cubs and Dusty Baker’s lineup features the newest Cub Killer. Joey Votto has gotten extremely comfortable in the box against Lou Piniella’s staff. Votto is 22-for-75 in his brief career (.293/.354/.720/1.074) with nine of his 30 career home runs and five of his 42 career doubles…in 21 games against the Cubs, Votto has 21 RBI.

The Cubs need to take him out of his comfort zone and throw a couple inside to get him off the plate and make him think a little…the way the game used to be played.

Rich Harden will make his second start of the year at Wrigley Field tonight. He was dominant in his first start against the Brewers on April 10 in Miller Park. Harden struck out 10, walked a pair and gave up three runs, two earned, in six innings. The Cubs lost the game 4-3 after the Brewers rallied in the ninth off Kevin Gregg.

Harden’s velocity was not down in his last start against the Rockies and he said after the game he was throwing instead of pitching. Harden pointed to the 14-pitch at bat by Garrett Atkins as the turning point in his outing…after striking out the first four batters he faced.

The Reds have a very good offense led by Joey Votto and they are due for a big game after struggling early on this season. Harden must throw strikes and limit his walks…especially in front of Votto and Jay Bruce.

Harden is 2-0 lifetime against the Reds in two starts with a 2.92 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP. He threw a gem against Dusty Baker’s team at Wrigley last August 19. Harden struck out 10, did not walk a batter and gave up only two hits in seven shutout innings.

  • Jay Bruce – 0-for-3
  • Chris Dickerson – 1-for-3
  • Edwin Encarnacion – 0-for-2
  • Laynce Nix – 3-for-17 with a double
  • Brandon Phillips – 0-for-3
  • Joey Votto – 0-for-3

The Cubs will face a pitcher tonight better known for his bat than his arm. The Reds received Micah Owings in the deal with the Diamondbacks last August that sent Adam Dunn to Arizona for Dallas Buck, cash and two players to be named later. Wilkin Castillo was one of the PTBNL (August 14) and Owings officially became a Red on September 12.

With Homer Bailey still learning how to pitch in Triple-A, Owings will serve as Dusty Baker’s fifth starter, and first offensive option off the bench, for the foreseeable future.

Owings is coming off a loss to the Brewers on April 15. He allowed four runs on five hits in five innings with two walks and two strikeouts…Mike Cameron took Owings deep twice in the game.

Tonight will be Owings first start against the Cubs in a Reds’ uniform. He was 0-1 in two career starts, four games, with the Diamondbacks….a 7.94 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP. Owings received a no-decision in his only appearance at Wrigley on July 21, 2007…two runs on four hits in four innings with three walks and three strikeouts, the D’Backs won the game 3-2.

On Sunday against the Astros, Micah Owings hit a game winning pinch-hit 2-run double in the 7th inning.

  • Milton Bradley – 1-for-7
  • Mike Fontenot – 0-for-2
  • Kosuke Fukudome – no official at bat, one walk
  • Koyie Hill – 0-for-2
  • Derrek Lee – 1-for-4
  • Aaron Miles – 1-for-2 with a home run
  • Aramis Ramirez – 1-for-5
  • Alfonso Soriano – 0-for-2 with a walk
  • Geovany Soto – 1-for-1
  • Ryan Theriot – 1-for-4 with 2 walks

A little known fact…the Cubs drafted Micah Owings in the 19th round back in 2004, but he did not sign. Owings was the third round pick of the Diamondbacks a year later.

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….

Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne