Game Seventy-One: Cubs (35-35) vs. White Sox (35-38)
Game Time – 3:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: FOX Saturday Baseball – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 177
Location – U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago
Ryan Dempster (4-5, 3.83/1.32) vs. Mark Buehrle (7-2, 3.17/1.13)
Can the Cubs win two in a row on the road? The last time the Cubs posted back-to-back wins away from the Friendly Confines was June 7 (Reds) and June 9 (Astros). The Cubs are a very disappointing 14-22 on the road this season and one of their better wins outside of Wrigley on Friday was ignored due to the soap opera that is Milton Bradley.
Lou Piniella said Bradley would be in today’s lineup in his post-game press conference. Piniella said he would discuss what happened on Friday afternoon in more detail on Saturday … and Jim Hendry said he would address the situation at that time as well. The Cubs have a huge problem on their hands and one that must be addressed soon.
Milton Bradley told the Tribune, “I’ve always excelled at playing baseball, and to come here and suck like I have, it’s just not a good feeling. And there’s really not one guy who I can sit and talk to. I’ve been on teams where I have guys I know, or somebody I can just vent to.”
When asked about Derrek Lee, Bradley responded with, “We just don’t have that bond. ‘D-Lee’ is cool. He’s quiet. But things change. I had a good rapport with [fired hitting coach Gerald Perry]. I trusted Gerald and I could talk to him, and he’s gone. I think I clicked with [ex-Cub outfielder Joey] Gathright, and he’s gone. So you just kind of feel like you’re on an island, and trying to stay afloat.”
According to the Tribune, “Bradley said the Cubs are a ‘good group of guys,’ but he hasn’t formed any real relationships yet. ‘The teammates, they’re there and they say all the right things, But it’s just [small talk].”
Before he was asked to leave the park by his manager in the sixth inning. Piniella stated he had grown tired of Milton’s occurrences. Piniella said, “Look, I’m not happy that this thing happened, I’m really not. But at the same time, it was time.” According to the Sun-Times, the other 24 players in the locker room appear to be on the same page with Piniella and tired of Bradley’s outbursts.
Alfonso Soriano added, “That’s my first time to see a manager fighting with a player; get mad with a player. Sometimes you can get mad, but not like that. It’s something new for me every day. ‘We are 25 players, and we have to be on the same page. If he is not 100 percent to help the team win, we don’t need him. If he’s 100 percent and he wants to play, he’s more than welcome.”
According to the Sun-Times Piniella shouted at Bradley, “You’re not a player! You’re a piece of (blank)!” Bradley responded with, “I have too much respect for you to respond to that.”
The Sun-Times also reported that Bradley’s play is also wearing thin with his teammates. Some have pointed to the fact he takes walks on tight pitches when if he ball the ball in play he would drive in runs.
From the Sun-Times: “From the front office to the clubhouse, Cubs personnel sympathize with Bradley’s frustration, and nobody blames him for struggling. But an apparent preoccupation with his individual issues over the team’s efforts to shake a first-half malaise has worn on teammates, even down to things as simple as working close pitches for walks with runners on base when putting the ball in play with less than two outs might score a rare and needed run.”
Milton Bradley also discussed the reception Mark DeRosa received last weekend … and speaking of DeRosa, the Cubs and Indians discussed the former Cub last weekend according to the Sun-Times.
The Cubs must figure out a way to focus today and beat the White Sox. After Friday not only will the players have to deal with the hoopla of the ‘Crosstown Classic’ but each one of them will have to answer questions about Milton Bradley.
It’s time to win a game … and it all starts with Ryan Dempster. While Ryan Dempster has not pitched badly in his last four starts (0-2 with a 2.10 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP), the Cubs are 0-4 in those starts and Dempster has not posted a win since May 30. Teams have hit Dempster pretty well over that stretch (.269 batting average against) and he has begun walking a lot of batters again. In order for Dempster to be successful he must have at least a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio, history has proven that. In his last 25 2/3 innings Dempster has walked 12 and struck out only 21. While his ERA is low, his WHIP (walk and hits per innings pitched) is the highest of any month and teams are hitting almost 20 points higher … in his last 12 2/3 innings (two starts), Dempster has as many strikeouts (10) as walks (10).
The Cubs offense has been non-existent over his last four starts (five total runs) and with Mark Buehrle on the mound this afternoon, it figures to be more of the same. In order for the Cubs to win game two on the South Side it will take a performance similar to the one Dempster put together on the North Side against the Dodgers on May 30 (no runs on three hits with a walk and five strikeouts in seven innings).
Dempster faced the White Sox on the North Side two starts ago. Dempster started the first game of the rain-shortened series and issued a season-high six walks in six innings. While none of the free passes came around to score, he ran up his pitch count and barely made it through six. With Angel Guzman on the DL, the Cubs need at least seven from Dempster this afternoon … if not more.
Ryan Dempster has posted just one road win this season (1-4 in nine starts) and the last time he started a game on the South Side he was shelled. Today will be a good test for the Cubs second starter.
- Brian Anderson – 1-for-2 with a walk
- Gordon Beckham – 1-for-2 with a walk
- Jermaine Dye – 3-for-9 with a double and 2 walks
- Chris Getz – 1-for-2 with a triple and a walk
- Paul Konerko – 0-for-4
- A.J. Pierzynski – 4-for-12 with a home run and 2 walks
- Scott Podsednik – 2-for-12 with 3 walks
- Alexei Ramirez – 1-for-6 with a home run
- Jim Thome – 3-for-11 with a double and 2 walks
- DeWayne Wise – 2-for-6
The Cubs will get their first, and only, look of the season at Mark Buehrle this afternoon. The southpaw has been very good of late and loves to beat the Cubs … so it could be a very frustrating afternoon if the Cubs offense does not make him work. Buehrle is a quick worker and always throws strikes … except for of late.
Buehrle has issued 21 walks in 93 2/3 innings (14 starts) but nine of those have come in his last four starts and like Ryan Dempster, his strikeout to walk ratio is just under 2:1 over that span (16 strikeouts and 9 walks). The Cubs could be getting him at the right time if they could just show a little patience and take advantage of every opportunity Buehrle gives them.
Mark Buehrle is coming off a seven-inning shutout performance in Cincinnati last Sunday. Buehrle allowed just five hits in the Sox 4-1 victory.
This afternoon will be Mark Buehrle’s 11th career start against the Cubs. He is 4-4 in his first ten with a 4.57 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP … last season, 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP, allowed just one unearned run in seven innings on six hits with two walks and five strikeouts at the Cell.
- Andres Blanco – 1-for-4 with a walk
- Milton Bradley – 8-for-25 with 2 doubles, a triple and 4 walks
- Mike Fontenot – 0-for-3
- Kosuke Fukudome – 1-for-4
- Derrek Lee – 5-for-11 with 2 doubles, a home run and a walk
- Aaron Miles – 1-for-3
- Alfonso Soriano – 6-for-29 with a double, 2 home runs and a walk
- Geovany Soto – 1-for-3 with a double
- Ryan Theriot – 1-for-7
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….