Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Marlins – 07/31/09

Game One Hundred-One: Cubs (54-46) vs. Marlins (53-49)
Game Time – 6:10pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – Land Shark Stadium, Miami

Rich Harden (7-6, 4.55/1.33) vs. Chris Volstad (8-9, 4.44/1.27)

After an impressive 6-1 homestand, the first place Chicago Cubs begin a very difficult road trip tonight in Miami. The Cubs play their next 10 games on the road and will visit Cincinnati and Colorado before returning to Wrigley on August 11. The Cubs have only four more off days on the schedule and play 17 of the next 23 games on the road. This 10-game, three-city trip in 11 days will give a good indication of exactly where the Cubs stand …

The Cubs will have two new players in uniform tonight with the addition of John Grabow on Thursday and the call-up of Sam Fuld from Triple-A. The Cubs are supposed to stick with Fuld throughout the road trip and like the defense Fuld provides in the large parks on this trip.

Geovany Soto is expected to begin a rehab assignment this weekend. The Cubs are hopeful he could rejoin the big league club in time for the opener next Friday in Colorado.

While the offense must do their job against Chris Volstad, it all begins with Rich Harden … and one win at a time.

Rich Harden has been very, very good in his last three starts … and Lou Piniella needs more of the same from him tonight. After a not-so-good first half (5-6 in 14 starts with a 5.47 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP), Harden is 2-0 in his last three starts with a 0.95 ERA and a 0.53 WHIP, teams have hit just .125 against him.

Harden has been throwing strikes and attacking hitters. In 19 innings since the break he has issued only two walks while striking out 21. Harden will face a free-swinging Marlins’ lineup tonight that is capable of putting a bunch of runs on the board. The key to his success will be limiting the Marlins’ longballs to solo shots.

Much has been made about Harden’s success on the road this season. He is 4-1 in seven starts outside of Wrigley with a 2.03 WHIP … at night, 5-1 in seven starts with a 2.23 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. The ‘Good Rich Harden‘ will go a long way towards the Cubs beginning a long trip on a positive note.

The Marlins pummeled Rich Harden back on May 1 at Wrigley. Harden received a no decision and the Cubs won the game 8-6 but he allowed five runs on six hits with four walks and two strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

Rich Harden has no record in three career starts against the Fish with a 4.40 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP … tonight is his first career game at Land Shark Stadium.

  • John Baker – 1-for-4 with a double
  • Emilo Bonifacio – 1-for-2 with a walk
  • Jorge Cantu – 2-for-11 with a walk
  • Ross Gload – 1-for-2
  • Jeremy Hermida – 1-for-6 with a home run and 2 walks
  • Hanley Ramirez – 2-for-4 with a double and 2 walks
  • Cody Ross – 0-for-2
  • Dan Uggla – 2-for-7 with a double and a home run
  • Chris Volstad – 0-for-2

The Cubs will face Chris Volstad for the second time this season tonight. Volstad is one of the many good young arms in the Marlins’ system. Volstad has been inconsistent this season but has won his last two starts.

Volstad is coming off a win against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. He allowed four runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings with four walks and two strikeouts. The Marlins simply outscored the Dodgers in the 8-6 win. The Cubs must make Volstad work tonight. While he typically throws a lot of strikes, in his last 12 1/3 innings Volstad has walked eight while striking out just four.

Chris Volstad has pitched much better on the road this year (5-3 in 11 starts with a 3.78 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP) than at home (3-6 in 10 starts with a 5.24 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP). Volstad held the Cubs to two runs on three hits in seven innings without any walks and five strikeouts back on April 30. The Cubs won the game 8-2 and must change their approach against Volstad tonight from the game plan they had in place three months ago.

Tonight will be Chris Volstad’s third career start against the Cubs. He has received three no decisions but has dominated the Cubs … just six runs on 15 hits in 19 innings with five walks and 14 strikeouts (2.84 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP).

  • Jeff Baker – 0-for-1
  • Milton Bradley – 1-for-3 with a home run
  • Mike Fontenot – 4-for-8 with a double and a home run
  • Kosuke Fukudome – 1-for-7 with a walk
  • Rich Harden – 0-for-2
  • Koyie Hill – 0-for-2
  • Derrek Lee – 2-for-8 with a double and a walk
  • Aramis Ramirez – 2-for-5 with a home run and a walk
  • Alfonso Soriano – 0-for-9
  • Ryan Theriot – 2-for-8

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….

Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon