Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Pirates – 07/01/09

Game Seventy-Five: Cubs (36-38) vs. Pirates (36-41)
Game Time – 6:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 184
Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh

Randy Wells (2-3, 2.57/1.09) vs. Virgil Vasquez (1-0, 3.00/1.00)

June is over and hopefully the Cubs will be able to turn on the offense with the flip of the calendar. Lou Piniella’s crew enters play tonight in fourth place in the central, 4 1/2 back of the Brewers, and just a game and a half ahead of the last place Pirates. The Cubs need a win in the worst way but more importantly they need to start playing more consistently and quit trying to win 10 games in one night.

The Cubs difficult 10-game road trip that began with the makeup in Atlanta on June 22 concludes tonight … the Cubs have won only twice in the first nine games.

After tonight the Cubs fly home for a huge four-game series against the Brewers … and they must not overlook the Battling Bucs. The Cubs have won three of the first five contests against the Pirates this season and while many think the Pirates are mailing in the 2009 season, someone forgot to tell them that on Tuesday night.

The Cubs will start to get a little healthier over the next few days. Aramis Ramirez, Reed Johnson and Angel Guzman are expected back … and if the Cubs can pull off a few wins in the meantime their return might not be for not.

While the offense must do their job against Virgil Vasquez … it all starts with Randy Wells and one win at a time.

After not being able to buy a win, Randy Wells has won his last two starts and will face the Pirates for the first time tonight. Wells beat the Sox in his last outing, the only victory for the Cubs at the Cell. The Sox managed only two runs on five hits (two solo home runs) in seven innings … with two walks (one intentional) and six strikeouts.

Wells has done a good job away from Wrigley this year … 1-1 in five starts with a 2.20 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP. After his worst big league start against the Twins on June 12 (four runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings), Wells has allowed only four earned runs in his last two games (four runs on 10 hits in 13 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts and three walks … 2.64 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP).

Virgil Vasquez will make his second start of the year tonight for the Bucs … and his second since 2007. Vasquez was inserted into the Pirates rotation after they demoted Ian Snell to Triple-A a few weeks back. Vasquez responded with an excellent outing against the Royals in which he allowed only two runs on four hits in six innings (two walks and seven strikeouts).

Vasquez was 0-1 in five games, three starts, for the Tigers in 2007, his only big league action, and posted an 8.64 ERA and a 1.92 WHIP.

Tonight will be Virgil Vasquez’s first career start … and appearance against the Cubs.

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball…

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax