Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Tigers – 06/24/09

Game Sixty-Eight: Cubs (34-33) vs. Tigers (39-31)
Game Time – 6:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 176
Location – Comerica Park, Detroit

Rich Harden (4-3, 5.27/1.41) vs. Rick Porcello (8-4, 3.54/1.30)

Updated – 5:29pm C.T. – Reed Johnson to be placed on 15-day DL – Ryan Freel to be activated

How will the Cubs respond to the ninth inning on Tuesday? Tonight will tell a lot about a Cubs’ team that has yet to find their identity … 67 games into the season. The Cubs have not played consistent baseball away from Wrigley and that must start tonight. The Cubs have already dropped the first two games of a difficult 10-game trip and it will not get any easier facing the 20-year old Rick Porcello.

Lou Piniella needs a good, long outing from Rich Harden tonight and for the offense to start producing crooked numbers on a regular basis … Rich Harden has been inconsistent at best this season … except for on the road and at night. The Cubs are reportedly concerned about Rich Harden and that is the reason the Pedro Martinez rumors will not go away. Harden, though, has repeatedly stated since being traded to the Cubs that he prefers to pitch at nightand the numbers back up his statement.

Rich Harden is 2-0 in three games on the road with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP and at night, 3-0 in three starts with a 3.32 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. Teams are hitting just .211 against Harden away from Wrigley and .214 at night. At home … 2-3 in seven starts with a 6.56 ERA and a 1.54 WHP and during the day, 1-3 in seven starts with a 6.31 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP. Rich Harden has won his last two starts away from Wrigley.

The Indians lit up Rich Harden in his last outing. Harden barely made it through five innings and gave up seven runs on seven hits in five innings with three walks and two strikeouts … only the second time all year Harden walked more than he struck out.

Harden could be hurt worse than he is letting on. After a fine start to the year, Harden has gotten progressively worse each month.

  • April – 2-1 in four starts with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP … opponents average, .195
  • May – 2-1 in four starts with a 5.56 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP … opponents average, .273
  • June – 0-1 in two starts with a 7.36 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP … opponents average, .293

Tonight will be a good test for Rich Harden.

Rich Harden will make his sixth career start against the Tigers tonight … and his first since last June 2. Harden is 3-1 in five starts against Detroit with a 3.48 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP, the Tigers offense has hit .302 against him. For the record, Harden is 2-0 at Comerica Park in two starts with a 2.08 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP.

  • Miguel Cabrera – 0-for-1 with 2 walks
  • Curtis Granderson – 1-for-3 with a walk
  • Brandon Inge – 2-for-6 with a double
  • Gerald Laird – 0-for-6 with a walk
  • Magglio Ordonez – 3-for-11 with a home run and a walk
  • Placido Polanco – 5-for-7 with 2 doubles
  • Ramon Santiago – 0-for-2

Rick Porcello was the Tigers top prospect according to Baseball America before the season … and the 30th best prospect in all of baseball according to Jim Callis, but Porcello is in the big leagues less than two years after being drafted.

Porcello was the first round pick of the Tigers (27th overall) in the 2007 draft. To say he has not disappointed would be an understatement … the 20-year is just two years removed from high school.

The Tigers have assembled a rotation full of power arms and Rick Porcello fits right in. His four-seam fastball has been clocked in the upper 90s and his sinker is consistently in the low to mid 90s. Porcello’s arsenal also includes what has been described as a devastating curveball.

Not only are Porcello’s stats and record impressive, but the Tigers are 9-4 in his starts and have won eight of the last nine … Porcello was 5-0 in five starts in May with a 1.50 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP, opponents hit just .208 against him.

The right-hander won his last start against the Cardinals. Porcello held St. Louis to three runs, one earned, on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings with two walks and three strikeouts.

Porcello is 3-2 in six home starts this year with a 4.22 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP. In his last four starts, 2-1 with a 3.68 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP.

Tonight will be the Cubs first look at Rick Porcello.

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….

Update – According to a report from Cubs.com, Reed Johnson will be placed on 15-day DL on Thursday. The Cubs are expected to activate Ryan Freel to take Johnson’s spot on the active roster.