Game Sixty-Three: Cubs (31-31) vs. Indians (29-39)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast Sports Net – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Rich Harden (4-3, 4.53/1.35) vs. Cliff Lee (4-6, 2.88/1.33)
Weather permitting …Can the Cubs win two in a row? The come from behind victory against the White Sox showed the Cubs could hit for a couple of innings … and now it is time to post wins on consecutive days for the first time since June 7 and June 9.
While the Cubs just completed a rain-shortened “Crosstown Classic”, the next three days will be focused on two players the Cubs parted ways with over the winter. The return of Mark DeRosa and Kerry Wood to Wrigley Field will make all of the headlines … and both players figure to have a huge impact on the next three games, especially Mark DeRosa.
Kerry Wood was synonymous with the Chicago Cubs for over a decade … Derrek Lee recently called him the ‘Mr. Cub‘ of this generation. Wood has been good for the Indians, especially of late (2-2 with a 4.63 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP, eight out of 10 in save opportunities … no hits or runs in last six games, 5 1/3 innings, with two walks and six strikeouts) and he credits his recent success with the fact he is throwing his devastating breaking ball for strikes.
Mark DeRosa spent two seasons with the Cubs and was traded on New Year’s Eve for three minor league pitchers. The 2009 version of the Chicago Cubs has missed DeRosa, no doubt, but he has become a legend in Chicago over the last six months. Many will be on hand to show support for Mark DeRosa today, but Jim Hendry will not be at Wrigley to hear the cheers (and likely standing ovation). Hendry is in Omaha this weekend at the College World Series.
After a horrible start to the year, DeRosa has been on fire of late and figures to finish the year in a different uniform. DeRosa has hit safely in his last seven games and is hitting .323/.380/.600 with five home runs and three doubles in his last 16 games … for the year, .280/.348/.479/.827 with 12 doubles, 13 home runs and 48 RBI in 64 games.
The Indians won seven of 11 before being swept by the Brewers at home. The Tribe scored 25 runs in the three losses … their offense is not the problem, it is Cleveland’s bullpen and every starter not named Cliff Lee.
The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner is coming off a gem against the Cardinals last Sunday night. Cliff Lee took a no-hitter into the eighth and is on top of his game right now. Lee has dominated the National League in Interleague Play. He is 2-0 in his last five starts against the NL with a 1.72 ERA and is 12-2 in 20 career Interleague starts with a 3.18 ERA.
The Cubs offense must make Cliff Lee work and get into their bullpen. While it all starts with Rich Harden, another good game from Alfonso Soriano would go a long way toward a win. Soriano recorded his first multi-hit game on Thursday since May 17 … Rich Harden will make his second start since coming off the DL last Friday. Harden put together a very good start, especially for a day game, but received no support from his offense. The Cubs lost 2-0 and were shutout for the fifth time on the year.
Rich Harden accepted responsibility for giving up a couple of early runs that put his team in a hole … but Harden, like the rest of Piniella’s staff, did his job. Harden allowed the two runs (a solo home run by Jason Kubel in the second and a RBI single by Joe Mauer in the third) on five hits in six innings with nine strikeouts … and only two walks.
The Cubs will need a similar outing from Rich Harden this afternoon.
Harden has struggled at home, especially during the day, this season. Harden has been consistent with his comments since his trade to the Cubs last summer that he prefers to pitch at night. Harden is 2-3 in six home starts this season with a 5.58 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP … during the day, 1-3 in six starts with a 5.28 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. For the record, Harden is 3-0 in his three starts at night with a 3.32 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP.
This afternoon will be Rich Harden’s fifth career start against the Indians. In five career games, four starts, Harden is 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP.
- Mark DeRosa – 0-for-1
- Ryan Garko – 1-for-1
- Travis Hafner – 2-for-4 with a double, a home run and 4 walks
- Victor Martinez – 1-for-5 with a walk
- Jhonny Peralta – 0-for-1
- Kelly Shoppach – 0-for-1
The Cubs will face the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner for only the second time … and for the first time since June 20, 2006. Cliff Lee beat the Cubs 4-2 in Cleveland and he allowed two runs, one earned, on six hits in 6 2/3 innings with a walk and three strikeouts. Cliff Lee beat Greg Maddux and Aramis Ramirez hit a home run off Lee in the sixth.
Cliff Lee has pitched much better than his 4-6 record and the Cubs’ offense will struggle once again today if they do not make him work. Lee is 2-0 in his last three starts with a miniscule 1.96 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP (four walks and 15 strikeouts in his last 23 innings).
The Indians have not had troubles of late scoring runs and Lee has been unbeatable. The Cubs offense must run up his pitch count and get him out of the game as soon as possible. The Tribe has a very bad bullpen that even the Cubs’ offense could take advantage of if they can get Lee out of the game.
- Andres Blanco – 1-for-4
- Milton Bradley – 2-for-9 with a home run and 2 walks
- Ryan Freel – 6-for-11 with a triple and 2 walks
- Reed Johnson – 2-for-5 with 2 walks
- Aaron Miles – 1-for-3
- Alfonso Soriano – 3-for-8 with a home run
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….