Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Braves – 07/06/09

Game Eighty: Cubs (40-39) vs. Braves (39-42)
Game Time – 6:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet/ESPN Monday Night Baseball – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 184
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Randy Wells (3-3, 2.43/1.08) vs. Jair Jurrjens (6-6, 2.73/1.24)

Updated – 3:39pm - No official word on the roster moves. Will update as soon as they are announced. Aramis Ramirez is at Wrigley.

Updated – 3:54pm C.T. – Aramis Ramirez, Reed Johnson and Angel Guzman activated from the 15-day DL

Sam Fuld and Kevin Hart Optioned to Triple-A Iowa – David Patton placed on 15-day DL with Groin injury

The Cubs figure to get a boost tonight with the return of Aramis Ramirez, as well as Reed Johnson and Angel Guzman. But it is the other roster moves the Cubs make that will impact the rest of the first half.

The Cubs have missed all three players, none more than Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez must not been seen as a cure-all for the Cubs’ underachieving offense. They have remained in the race, despite poor play and wasted opportunities and Ramirez should help plate a few more runs … but Ramirez has stated he will not be playing every day and will require extra time off the remainder of the season. Keeping Jake Fox with the big league team and his continued improvement, both offensively and defensively, figures to be one of the keys to the second half. The others: Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano and the bullpen.

The Cubs are 1-2 against the Braves this year and it is a must, at this point, to at least split the season series with Atlanta. While the offense must find a way to plate a few runs tonight against Jair Jurrjens, it all starts with Randy Wells … and one win at a time. For the first time in his young career Randy Wells will face a team for the second time tonight. One of the questions Wells has yet to answer is how will he fare the second time around league. Wells dominated the Braves the first time he faced them back on June 2 (one run on two hits in seven-plus with four strikeouts and no walks) and it will be interesting to see the adjustments made on both sides.

Randy Wells has won his last three starts and has not given up more than two earned runs in six of his last seven outings. He has pitched into or through the seventh inning in seven of his last eight starts. And has been one of the biggest surprises and bright spots for the Cubs in the first half.

Wells is 1-2 in his four starts at Wrigley this season with a 3.09 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP while opponents have hit .276 against him. Like many pitchers, Wells has thrived at night. In five night games Wells is 1-2 with a 1.91 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. The Braves are playing much better since the last time he faced them in Atlanta and he will have to bring his A-game to the park once again. With Wells and Jair Jurrjens, one of the best young pitchers in the league, on the hill tonight, runs figure to be at a premium.

  • Garrett Anderson – 1-for-3 with a home run
  • Yunel Escobar – 0-for-2
  • Jeff Francoeur – 0-for-2
  • Chipper Jones – 1-for-3
  • Brian McCann – 0-for-3

After missing Jair Jurrjens twice over the past year and a half (Jurrjens was scheduled to start the game at Wrigley last season in which Jeff Bennett broke Alfonso Soriano’s hand and was slated to start the final game of the series in Atlanta that was rained out on June 4), the Cubs will finally face the talented, young right-hander.

Jurrjens has one of the best young arms in the league. He is coming off an impressive seven-inning outing against the Phillies (one run, unearned, on one hit with four walks and six strikeouts) and has not allowed more than three earned runs in a single start since June 5.

The Braves have trouble scoring runs, which has led to his .500 record. Jurrjens is an impressive 3-2 with a 2.44 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP in eight starts this year away from Turner Field … and is 1-4 in his last five starts with a 2.97 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP.

Jurrjens throws a lot of strikes but can be very inconsistent (38 walks and 89 hits in 102 1/3 innings). If the Cubs can make him work and play solid, fundamental ball they could outscore the Braves in what figures to be a low-scoring ballgame.

Tonight will be Jair Jurrjens first career start against the Cubs. Only Jeff Baker (1-for-4) has faced Jurrjens in the past.

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….