Game Seventy-Six: Cubs (37-38) vs. Brewers (42-36)
Game Time – 7:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet/MLB Network – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Ryan Dempster (4-5, 4.09/1.36) vs. Seth McClung (3-1, 3.55/1.47)
Seventy-six games into the 2009 season and the Brewers will play their first games of the year this weekend at Wrigley Field. The Cubs split the first six games of the season against the Brewers in Milwaukee with the last series taking place from May 8 – May 10 … the weekend the Cubs lost Aramis Ramirez for two months.
The Cubs enter play tonight 3 1/2 games behind the Brewers, fourth place in the central … 2 1/2 behind the Cardinals and just a half game behind the Reds.
The Cubs are a much different team at Wrigley (21-13, 16-25 on the road) and will play their final 11 games of the first half at home. Following the Brewers four-game set, the Braves are in for three and after a day off, the Cardinals invade Wrigley for four games in three days. Despite an underachieving first half, the Cubs are in the thick of the race but the next 11 games will have an impact on the remainder of the season.
Reports before and during Wednesday’s game indicated Alfonso Soriano could be out of the starting lineup once again tonight. The Cubs need a healthy Alfonso Soriano in order to have a better second half of the season. Soriano is far from healthy right now and not producing at the plate. Lou Piniella must stick to his guns and give him the time he needs to get back on track.
The Brewers will be looking to return the favor from last July … and for the Cubs, it all starts with Ryan Dempster. Ryan Dempster is coming off another poor outing this season. Prior to his start against the Sox Dempster said he finally got some sleep after months of dealing with his personal issues. Dempster struggled throwing strikes again but maybe he can start his season a new tonight.
The Sox scored five runs against Dempster in five innings on eight hits with three walks and two strikeouts … the second time in three starts Dempster walked more than he struck out.
Like all Major League pitchers Ryan Dempster must throw strikes in order to be successful and he has not done that this season. One of the big reasons for his 2008 season was the fact he walked only 76 batters in 206 2/3 innings. This season Dempster has issued 42 free passes in 99 innings … and 13 in his last three starts with only 12 strikeouts.
Dempster has been very good at Wrigley this season, 3-1 in six starts with a 4.14 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP but has not picked up a win since May 30 against the Dodgers. The Cubs are 0-5 in Dempster’s last five starts and a lot of that has to do with the amount of balls he has thrown (512 pitches in last five starts … 302 for strikes).
Tonight will be Dempster’s third start of the season against the Brewers … and the Brewers’ explosive offense has teed off on him. Dempster is 1-1 in two starts against the Brew Crew this year (April 12 and May 9 in Milwaukee) with a 5.83 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP (nine runs, eight earned, on 13 hits with six walks and 15 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings … with three home runs allowed).
- Ryan Braun – 4-for-19 with 2 doubles, a home run and 2 walks
- Mike Cameron – 3-for-18 with 2 walks
- Frank Catalanotto – 2-for-4 with a double and a walk
- Craig Counsell – 6-for-19 with a home run and 4 walks
- Prince Fielder – 5-for-19 with a double, a home run and 3 walks
- Jody Gerut – 2-for-6 with a double and a walk
- Bill Hall – 3-for-18
- J.J. Hardy – 2-for-23 with a double and a walk
- Corey Hart – 2-for-20 with a home run and 3 walks
- Jason Kendall – 18-for-43 with 3 doubles and 5 walks
- Seth McClung – 0-for-1
- Casey McGehee – 1-for-1
The Cubs will get their first look tonight at Seth McClung the starter. McClung was put in the Brewers rotation when Dave Bush was placed on the DL with arm fatigue. McClung struggled in his first start of the year and made it just four innings against the Giants. San Francisco put up three runs against McClung in four innings on six hits. The Cubs must make him work, something that have not done in the past when he comes out of the pen.
Seth McClung has pitched extremely well against the Cubs as a reliever. In ten career games he is 1-0 with a 2.55 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP … the Cubs have hit just .177 against him. The Cubs have traditionally been very aggressive against McClung, which works to his advantage. If the Cubs’ offense can make him throw a lot of pitches early, they could get into the Brewers’ questionable-at-best middle relief.
McClung is 2-1 in 15 relief appearances on the road this season with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP.
- Milton Bradley – 1-for-2 with 2 walks
- Ryan Dempster – 0-for-2
- Mike Fontenot – 1-for-5 with a walk
- Ryan Freel – 1-for-1
- Kosuke Fukudome – 4-for-6 with a double
- Koyie Hill – 1-for-3 with a home run
- Derrek Lee – 0-for-5
- Alfonso Soriano – 1-for-15 with a double
- Geovany Soto – 1-for-4 with a double
- Ryan Theriot – 2-for-9 with a double and 2 walks
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….