Game Nine: Cubs (5-3) vs. Cardinals (7-3)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Sean Marshall (0-0, 0.00/1.00) vs. Adam Wainwright (1-0, 1.74/1.55)
While a majority of the mainstream media thinks the Yankees and the Red Sox is the greatest rivalry in all of baseball, many throughout the Midwest will argue it’s the Cubs and Cardinals…and today is the first meeting of the new season. The Cubs won nine of the 15 meetings a year ago.
Lou Piniella’s crew enters play today a game behind Tony LaRussa and the Redbirds in the Central. Many of the experts figured the race for the central this year would be between the Cubs and Cards…and after the first ten days of the season, the two teams are atop the division.
The Cubs are expected to have Aramis Ramirez back in the lineup today while Milton Bradley will not return for at least another day. On the other side, the Cardinals lost a big piece of their team on Wednesday when they placed Chris Carpenter on the 15-day DL. Carpenter is expected to be out four to eight weeks.
The Cubs will send Sean Marshall to the hill for his first start of the season. Marshall has pitched well against the Redbirds since making his big league debut against them on a Sunday night in April back in 2006.
While Marshall tries to keep Albert Pujols in the park and off the bases, the Cubs’ offense will have their hands full with Adam Wainwright…who has not pitched as good as his record and stats indicate.
It’s the Cubs and Cardinals…Round One Sean Marshall more than earned the fifth spot in the Cubs’ rotation this spring. Marshall dominated the Cactus League until his last two starts. He finished with a 3-1 record with a 4.39 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP with 18 strikeouts and eight walks in 26 2/3 innings…but that was then.
Lou Piniella needs a quality start from his second lefty today. With the short outing from Rich Harden on Wednesday, Piniella has a bunch of one-inning pitchers he can use today and if it gets ugly early, Marshall might have to take one for the team.
Marshall put together one of his best starts last season against the Cardinals. On July 6, Marshall held Albert Pujols and company to one run on six hits in six innings with a walk and four strikeouts. Marshall stepped up then…and a repeat performance would go along way to this weekend at Wrigley being a successful one for the Cubs.
Marshall is 2-1 in five career starts (nine games) against the Cardinals with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP.
- Rick Ankiel – 1-for-4
- Khalil Greene – 0-for-6
- Ryan Ludwick – 1-for-8 with a home run and a walk
- Yadier Molina – 4-for-12 with a double and a walk
- Albert Pujols – 4-for-13 with 3 walks
- Brendan Ryan – 2-for-6 with a home run
- Skip Schumaker – 0-for-4
Beginning today, Cubs pitchers must cut down on the number of free passes they are issuing. While the Brewers, Astros and Rockies have very good lineups, the Cardinals have the best player in the game…and Albert Pujols always seems to be at the plate with runners on base.
Adam Wainwright has become the Cardinals’ ace, especially with Chris Carpenter on the DL, but as good as his numbers look in the first two games, they are deceiving. Carpenter has struggled with his command and is throwing a ton of pitches…especially early in the game.
The Cubs offense must not allow him to get comfortable and must make him work. If they are aggressive early, it will be a long day.
Wainwright has walked eight with only 11 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings. He faced a streaky Astros team a day before they went 18 straight innings without plating a run. Wainwright did not allow a run to Houston in five innings but he pitched from behind in the count most of the afternoon.
Wainwright was 1-0 in two starts against the Cubs last season with a 2.38 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP…for his career, 1-3 in six starts, 15 games, with a 6.10 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP.
Today will be Wainwright’s third career start at Wrigley (1-0 in 2 starts, 7 games, with a 6.19 ERA and a 1.94 WHIP)
- Mike Fontenot – 3-for-5 with a double
- Kosuke Fukudome – 0-for-3
- Joey Gathright – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Koyie Hill – 0-for-3
- Micah Hoffpauir – 1-for-1
- Derrek Lee – 3-for-14 with a double and 5 walks
- Aramis Ramirez – 7-for-21 with 3 doubles, a home run and 2 walks
- Alfonso Soriano – 3-for-13 with a double, a triple and 2 walks
- Geovany Soto – 2-for-3 with a double
- Ryan Theriot – 6-for-18 with 2 doubles
Look for Aaron Miles to be a factor in at least one game this weekend.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….