Game Seventy-Nine: Cubs (39-39) vs. Brewers (43-38)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet/TBS – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Ted Lilly (7-6, 3.35/1.13) vs. Mike Burns (1-1, 3.31/1.29)
Despite being blown out on Saturday, the Cubs have a chance to post a series win with a victory this afternoon. After today the Cubs will not face the Brewers again this season until September 14 (the Cubs play a four-game series at Wrigley and a three game series in Miller Park in the final three weeks of the season) and a win would go a long way toward a successful end to a disappointing first half.
Aramis Ramirez was 1-for-2 with a RBI in Saturday’s rehab assignment with the Peoria Chiefs. Both Ramirez and Reed Johnson (a walk in his only plate appearance Saturday) are expected to be activated on Monday from the DL … with Angel Guzman re-joining the Cubs on Tuesday. The Cubs could go with an 11-man pitching staff for the remainder of the first half with Carlos Zambrano pitching out of the pen next weekend against the Cardinals (Zambrano is slated to start the series finale against the Braves on Wednesday). With 11 pitchers, the Cubs could keep an extra position player.
According to the Daily Herald, Jeff Baker and Andres Blanco “are going to stay” while Mike Fontenot, Jake Fox, Micah Hoffpauir and Sam Fuld are the candidates to be sent down to Triple-A. It appears Kevin Hart and/or Jeff Samardzija will return to Iowa when Angel Guzman is activated from the DL … the better move might be to place Alfonso Soriano on the DL for the remainder of the first half.
With the Cubs facing the Braves (2-for-11 in two games with a home run) and the Cardinals (7-for-36 in nine games with two double, a home run, four walks and 16 strikeouts) before the break, teams that Soriano has struggled against this season, it might give him time to rest and prepare for the second half instead of continuing to struggle at the plate. Alfonso Soriano is not the Cubs’ only problem but they must figure out a way to get him right for the second half.
While the offense must do their job today against a former teammate in Mike Burns, it all starts with Ted Lilly … and one win at a time. Ted Lilly is coming off back-to-back losses, one that he pitched poorly in and one that he received no run support. Lilly has been the Cubs most reliable starter this season and has earned the right to represent the Cubs in the All-Star game.
While Lilly has not posted a win since June 9, the Cubs are 2-2 in his four starts since and Lilly has allowed a total of 13 earned runs … six in one start in Detroit. ‘The Bulldog‘ posted a 1-2 record in six June starts with a 3.12 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP.
At home this season, Ted Lilly has been just short of unbeatable. In seven starts he has posted a 4-1 record with a tremendous 1.85 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP. The Cubs will need Lilly to be on top of his game this afternoon against a very dangerous Brewers’ lineup.
Today will be Lilly’s first start of the year against Milwaukee. He is 2-2 in seven career appearances, six starts, against the Brewers with a 4.72 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP.
- Ryan Braun – 6-for-13 with 2 doubles, 2 home runs and a walk
- Mike Cameron – 7-for-27 with a double, a home run and a walk
- Craig Counsell – 0-for-1
- Prince Fielder – 6-for-15 with a double and a walk
- Jody Gerut – 3-for-8 with a double and a walk
- Bill Hall – 2-for-14 with 2 walks
- J.J. Hardy – 3-for-16 with a home run
- Corey Hart – 4-for-15 with 3 doubles, a home run and a walk
- Jason Kendall – 4-for-16 with 2 doubles and 2 walks
Mike Burns will make his first career start against the Cubs todayafter spending the 2008 season with the Iowa Cubs. Burns replaced Manny Parra in the Brewers rotation after the talented southpaw had a horrible start to the year. Burns will make just his third start of the season and fourth appearance since being called up from Triple-A Nashville.
Burns is coming off a solid outing and a win (the first of his big league career) against the New York Mets. He allowed only two runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings with a walk and two strikeouts. In a small sample size, Burns has walked (6) almost as many batters this season as he’s struck out (9) and could post a big challenge for the Cubs.
The Brewers’ righty threw a ton of first pitch strikes to the Mets overly aggressive offense (16). They managed only one walk and sat down ten batters on very short at bats of three pitches or less.
The Cubs are not familiar with Mike Burns … Derrek Lee has the most career at bats as any Cub on the active roster. If the offense does not make him work early on, it could be another long afternoon. And they could end up making another mediocre, at best, pitcher look like a Cy Young award winner.
Patience will be a virtue today.
- Derrek Lee – 2-for-2 with 2 doubles
- Alfonso Soriano – 0-for-1
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….