Game Four: Cubs (2-1) vs. Brewers (1-2)
Game Time – 3:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – Miller Park, Milwaukee
Rich Harden (0-0, -.–/-.–) vs. Braden Looper (0-0, -.–/-.–)
The last time the Cubs played at Miller Park they witnessed the Brewers celebrate their first playoff birth since 1982…and today they will help open their 2009 home schedule. The Brewers are coming off a disappointing West Coast trip. They lost two of three to the Giants and will look to even their season record in their home opener.
The 2009 version of the Milwaukee Brewers has several new faces including new manager Ken Macha and bench coach Willie Randolph. The Brewers’ offense is still one of the best in the league led by Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun but their pitching staff has a much different look. Gone are CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets…in their place, a healthy Yovani Gallardo and Braden Looper…who is making his Brewers’ debut today.
The Cubs will be without Geovany Soto for at least the first two games of the series…and he could sit out the entire weekend. Koyie Hill will catch Rich Harden, Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster this weekend. Aaron Miles will serve as Hill’s backup.
The Cubs won nine of the 16 meetings a year ago against the Brewers…and this afternoon all eyes will be on Rich Harden and is velocity. Rich Harden is coming off a horrible spring and many have questioned if he is healthy or not. Harden was lit up in New York last Saturday and hit the low 90s on the radar gun only a hand full of times. The Cubs have stood by the story that Harden is fine and was just getting his work in. Today will be his first true test in a game that counts.
With Sean Marshall not needed until the first game of the Cardinals series (Thursday, April 16) look for Piniella to go to Marshall if Harden pitches the way he did at the end of Spring Training.
Rich Harden was 1-0 in two starts last year against the Brewers with a 1.50 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. He struck out 16 while issuing only six walks in 12 innings.
- Ryan Braun – 1-for-6 with a double
- Mike Cameron – 0-for-7 with a walk
- Craig Counsell – 0-for-4 with a walk
- Prince Fielder – 1-for-5 with a home run and a walk
- J.J. Hardy – 0-for-5 with a walk
- Jason Kendall – 0-for-5
- Rickie Weeks – 1-for-3
The Cubs will see a familiar face in the former Cardinal, Braden Looper. Looper has had success against the Cubs in the past…despite the win-loss record.
The Cubs hit Looper very well but do not score a lot of runs against him. Last year with the Cardinals Looper was 0-3 in four starts against the Cubs with a 3.24 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. They hit a robust .290 as a team against him but scored only 12 runs (nine earned) in 25 innings. If Looper is right, the Cubs’ offense usually struggles against him.
Lou Piniella’s crew must be patient and not swing at Looper’s pitch. If they can get into the Brewers’ pen they can tack on late and leave Miller Park with a victory in the Brewers’ home opener.
For his career, Looper is 3-6 in 40 games, eight starts, with four saves against the Cubs… a 2.61 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP.
- Milton Bradley – 0-for-5
- Mike Fontenot – 1-for-9 with a walk
- Kosuke Fukudome – 4-for-13 with a double and a home run
- Joey Gathright – 3-for-3 with a double
- Koyie Hill – 0-for-3
- Micah Hoffpauir – 1-for-3 with a double
- Reed Johnson – 0-for-3
- Derrek Lee – 7-for-24 with a double, a home run and a walk
- Aramis Ramirez – 7-for-25 with 3 walks
- Alfonso Soriano – 3-for-14
- Ryan Theriot – 5-for-20 with a walk
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….