Game Forty-Eight: Cubs (24-23) vs. Dodgers (34-16)
Game Time – 3:10pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: FOX Saturday Baseball – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 184
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Ryan Dempster (3-3, 4.99/1.35) vs. Eric Stults (4-1, 4.29/1.50)
Did the Cubs learn how to win a low scoring game on Friday? Not only was the 2-1 defeat of the Dodgers their first win of the year in which they scored less than four runs (1-19); Friday marked the first time since early September of 2008 that Lou Piniella’s crew posted a victory when they did not put at least a four-spot on the scoreboard. The Cubs team that was built to score runs in bunches simply is not getting it done right now. They were 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position in the first two games of the series without a single RBI…without Aramis Ramirez’s stats figured in, the Cubs are hitting just .228 as a team this season with RISP.
Several of the players talked about how important Friday’s low scoring win was…now it is time for them to build on it and realize sometimes it is the little things that win ballgames.
It was revealed a week or so ago that Alfonso Soriano is dealing with a sore left knee. Reports prior to Friday’s game indicated that Soriano’s knee was heavily wrapped and he was having trouble moving around the clubhouse. Soriano likes to play every day and should, when healthy.
Alfonso Soriano is struggling at the plate. He has only five hits in his last nine games (36 at bats) and his line for May is very concerning… 224/.267/.418/.685 with four doubles, five home runs, five walks and 26 strikeouts. With the off-day on Monday and two southpaws going for the Dodgers (Eric Milton on Sunday night) it might be a good time for Soriano to get some time off. The Cubs open a challenging nine-game road trip on Tuesday with the first of three in Atlanta…the Cubs travel to Cincinnati next weekend and finish up in Houston on June 11. The Cubs play only nine of their 26 games in June at Wrigley and the next month will be difficult enough without Aramis Ramirez…much less a healthy and productive Alfonso Soriano.
The Cubs cannot afford to lose Soriano for any length of time and maybe the next two days would give Jake Fox a little time in left to see if he can keep hitting big league pitching.
The Cubs will face a lefty starter for only the ninth time this season. They are 4-4 in the first eight and must be very patient against Eric Stults today. The offense will have plenty of opportunities as long as they do not swing early and often…. Which Ryan Dempster will show up to the park this afternoon? The one that put together back-to-back seven-inning starts against the Padres and Cardinals…or the one that laid an egg against the Pirates? The Cubs need Ryan Dempster to forget about his last start (six runs on seven hits in four innings) and pick up where he left off in the tough-luck loss to the Cardinals (two runs on six hits in seven innings).
After a phenomenal home record a year ago, Dempster has struggled at Wrigley this season. He is 2-0 in four starts but has allowed 14 runs on 19 hits in 24 innings (5.25 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP). Dempster is dealing with a lot off the field but his teammates need him to return to his 2008 form today.
Dempster is 4-3 in nine career regular season starts against the Dodgers (19 games) with a 3.01 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP…last year, 1-0 in two starts with a 2.92 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP.
- Andre Ethier – 5-for-11 with 2 doubles and a home run
- Rafael Furcal – 6-for-28 with 3 doubles and 7 walks
- Orlando Hudson – 0-for-5
- Matt Kemp – 1-for-5 with a double and a walk
- James Loney – 1-for-4
- Mark Loretta – 4-for-14 with a double and 4 walks
- Russell Martin – 2-for-7 with 2 walks
- Juan Pierre – 5-for-12 with a double and a walk
If the Cubs want to win their second game in a row, they must be patient against Eric Stults. Stults is a very good southpaw but one that gives up a lot of free passes. In 42 innings, Stults has walked 23 batters…and struck out just 27. The Dodgers score a ton of runs for Stults and are 7-1 in his eight starts.
The Dodgers’ offense has scored 65 runs in Stults’ eight starts…that is a little over eight runs per game.
Stults is coming off back-to-back no decisions in which he has not pitched past the fifth inning. He has walked nine in his last 9 1/3 innings with only seven strikeouts. As mentioned, the Cubs will have plenty of opportunities to score runs today.
This afternoon will be Eric Stults second career start against the Cubs. He is 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA and a 2.31 WHIP…(four runs, three earned, on eight hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings). Ted Lilly beat Eric Stults on September 5, 2007 at Wrigley Field.
- Derrek Lee – 1-for-2 with a walk
- Alfonso Soriano – 1-for-3
- Geovany Soto – 2-for-2
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….