Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. White Sox – 06/17/09

Game Sixty-One: Cubs (30-30) vs. White Sox (30-34)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast Sports Net (Cubs)/WGN TV (White Sox) – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Ryan Dempster (4-3, 3.87/1.25) vs. John Danks (4-5, 4.81/1.41)

Weather permitting the Cubs and White Sox will renew their crosstown rivalry this afternoona day late.

The Cubs not only begin an important series against the White Sox this afternoon but begin a stretch of 22 games in a row without a day off … and Lou Piniella’s crew plays 26 games in the next 26 days leading up to the All-Star break. To say this is a crucial part of the schedule for the Cubs would be an understatement.

While ‘bragging rights‘ are always important when the Cubs and the Sox meet up for the annual Crosstown Classic, right now the Cubs need to post wins no matter who they play. The Cubs have struggled against the American League and Sunday’s win ended a six-game losing streak against the Junior Circuit. The Cubs are 1-2 in Interleague Play and will play the Sox five times in the next 12 days … with three against the Indians, the make-up game in Atlanta on Monday, June 22 and three in Detroit before finishing up on the South Side on June 28.

The Cubs and Sox have each won 33 of the 64 games (33-33 all-time record in Interleague Play). The Cubs swept the three games at Wrigley a year ago and the Sox returned the favor on the South Side seven days later. These games are always close and usually decided by a play or two. Both teams are struggling to score runs and each game could be decided by the team with the last at bat…

But this afternoon it is the Cubs versus the Sox … and the Cubs need to put wins on the board.

Like a majority of the Cubs’ starting staff Ryan Dempster is coming off a very good outing but he received a no-decision due to no run support. Dempster put together one of his better starts of the year against the Astros and if not for Derrek Lee’s solo home run in the ninth, would have taken a tough 1-0 loss. Dempster gave up just one run on seven hits in seven innings without a walk and four strikeouts.

Ryan Dempster has been pitching much better of late and has allowed only one earned run in his last three starts after a miserable outing against the Pirates on May 25. Dempster has returned to his 2008 form by throwing a lot of strikes and the main reason for his turnaround is he has walked only three batters in his last three starts (20 innings).

After a horrible April (1-1 in five starts with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP … 14 walks and 25 strikeouts in 30 innings), Dempster stepped up his game in May (3-2 in six starts with a 3.76 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP … 13 walks and 32 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings) but has been just short of perfect in his last two starts (0-0 with a 0.69 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP … 2 walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings).

While Dempster has not lost a game at Wrigley this season (3-0 in five starts with a 4.06 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP) his numbers, outside of his win-loss record is better on the road (1-3 in eight starts with a 3.75 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP).

The Cubs will need Dempster to pick up where he left off against the Astros in order to post a win this afternoon. Dempster has struggled against the Sox in the past and is 1-2 in nine career games, two starts, with three saves and a 6.23 ERA with a 1.50 WHIP. The Sox’s offense has feasted on Dempster in the past to a tune of a .303 batting average … and last year Dempster was 1-1 in two starts with a 7.84 ERA and a 2.03 WHIP, with a majority of the damage done in one start on June 27 on the South Side (eight runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings with three walks and a strikeout).

  • Jermaine Dye – 3-for-7 with a double
  • Paul Konerko – 0-for-1
  • A.J. Pierzynski – 4-for-10 with a home run and a walk
  • Scott Podsednik – 2-for-10 with a triple and two walks
  • Alexei Ramirez – 0-for-3
  • Jim Thome – 3-for-11 with a double and 2 walks
  • DeWayne Wise – 2-for-6

After an excellent start to the season (2-1 in four starts with a 2.74 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP in April), John Danks struggled in May (2-2 in six starts with a 6.32 ERA and a 1.76 WHIP while opponents hit .315 against him) but has been better in his past two starts … despite the record. Danks is 0-2 in June with a 4.85 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP and is coming off his longest start of the year, a loss to the Tigers. Danks gave up two runs on five hits in 7 1/3 innings with two walks and seven strikeouts the White Sox managed only one run.

Danks is one of the best young lefties in the American League and is coming off a tremendous season. The southpaw was 12-9 in 33 starts last year with a 3.32 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP … and one of his best outings came against the Cubs.

Last June 20 at Wrigley, Danks allowed one run on five hits in six innings with five strikeouts and no walks. The Cubs won the game 4-3 on a walk-off home run by Aramis Ramirez.

The Cubs are just 5-7 against lefty starters this season and will have their work cut out for them today.

  • Milton Bradley – 1-for-3 with a home run
  • Kosuke Fukudome – 2-for-3
  • Derrek Lee – 0-for-2
  • Geovany Soto – 1-for-2
  • Ryan Theriot – 1-for-3

News from Tuesday’s Game Preview

The Cubs recalled Jake Fox from Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday afternoon and placed Jason Waddell on the 15-day DL.

Ozzie Guillen, who loves playing at Wrigley Field, fired the first shots on Sunday night. From the Tribune, “But one thing about Wrigley Field, I puke every time I go there. That’s just to be honest. And if Cub fans don’t like the way I talk about Wrigley Field, it’s just Wrigley Field. I don’t say anything about the fans or anything now. But Wrigley Field, they got to respect my opinion. That’s the way I feel. And if his comments upset the Cubs fans, I don’t care if they hate me. They don’t feed my kids. If they hate me, that’s cool.”

In other news … The Von Joshua era began on Tuesday night. The former White Sox hitting coach was in the batting cage on Tuesday with his new team working with several of the Cubs’ hitters before the game was called. Joshua has helped several of the Cubs’ young hitters on the way through the system. From Ryan Theriot to Geovany Soto to Mike Fontenot to Jake Fox, Joshua has put his stamp on a few of the players that Lou Piniella is now depending on to win games. Bruce Levine passed on a few kind words from Micah Hoffpauir on Von Joshua: “I’ve worked with Von since 2004. I’m pretty familiar with him and his approach. I like his philosophy and personally, he’s a great guy to deal with. He deserved another shot in the big leagues. He’s been there before.”

Now the veteran hitting coach has to find a way to get Alfonso Soriano to lay off a two-strike breaking ball in the dirt … that has resulted in an out too many times over the past two and a half years.

Speaking of Alfonso Soriano, look for him to remain at the top of Lou Piniella’s batting order despite hitting .147 over his past 22 games (14-for-95). Soriano has struck out 66 times and walked just 22 times in the season’s first 60 games. While many are focused on Geovany Soto, Mike Fontenot and Milton Bradley, the player that receives the most at bats must start producing, and soon.

On the injury frontRyan Freel made a rehab start with the I-Cubs on Monday, click here for details on his performance. Freel is not expected back until after the Sox series. According to a report from Bruce Levine, it is at least three to four weeks before Aramis Ramirez returns.

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball…

Quote of the Day

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