Game Eighty-Two: Cubs (41-40) vs. Braves (40-43)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 184
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Kevin Hart (0-0, 1.59/1.41) vs. Kenshin Kawakami (4-6, 4.46/1.38)
Weather permitting … The unofficial start of the second half kicks off with the rubber game of the series, and the last game of the year against the Braves. After taking the first game on Monday, a win this afternoon would give the Cubs a season series split against Atlanta. Today is also the conclusion of a long string of games for Lou Piniella’s crew that began back on June 17.
The Cubs complete a streak of 22 games in 22 days this afternoon with a chance to post a winning record after a difficult stretch. The Cubs are 11-10 in the first 21 and have shown a lot of improvement over the last nine days. Tomorrow will be the team’s first day off since June 15 … the rainout against the White Sox was on June 16.
Carlos Zambrano was scheduled to take the mound today but with the injury to Ryan Dempster, the Cubs have decided to give Kevin Hart his first start at the Major League level. The Cubs will need a solid outing from Hart in order to post their third straight series win.
Geovany Soto should be back behind the plate this afternoon … and look for Jake Fox at third base.
The Cubs offense must do their job against Kenshin Kawakami but this afternoon it all starts with Kevin Hart … Kevin Hart will make his first career big league start this afternoon. Hart burst onto the scene in the Fall of 2007, dominated out of the bullpen (0-0 in eight games with a 0.82 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP) but faltered out of Spring Training a year ago.
The Cubs had high hopes for Hart. He made the team out of camp then forgot how to throw strikes. Hart was 2-2 in 21 relief appearances last season with a 6.51 ERA and a horrible 2.06 WHIP. Hart developed a bad habit of nibbling around the plate and whenever he got into trouble, he could not get out of it. Hart gave up 39 hits along with 18 walks in 27 2/3 innings … opponents hit .325 against him.
Hart has a lot of ability and the stuff to be very successful at the Major League level … its time for him to follow Randy Wells’ example and make the most of his opportunity.
Today will be Hart’s fifth game of the season. He has allowed a run on three hits in 5 2/3 innings with a strikeout and five walks. Hart must be aggressive today, like he was in 2007, or it will be a very long, short outing this afternoon.
Kevin Hart has faced the Braves once in his big league career. He tossed an inning of relief on June 22 … the makeup game in Atlanta. Hart walked a batter and did not give up a hit.
- Garrett Anderson – 0-for-1
- Jeff Francoeur – 0-for-1
- Casey Kotchman – 0-for-0 with a walk
- Nate McLouth – 0-for-2
The Cubs faced Kosuke Fukudome’s former teammate during their first trip of the season to Atlanta. The Cubs put up four runs, three earned, on seven hits in seven innings against Kenshin Kawakami. Randy Wells was in line for the victory but the Cubs’ bullpen gave up the win in the final two innings.
Kawakami has been very good of late, like the entire Braves’ pitching staff. While Kawakami has received only one decision in his last six starts (posted a win in Boston on June 19), the Braves are 4-2 over that span … and the last time he was beaten was on May 27 in San Francisco.
Kawakami was 1-0 in five June starts with a 3.33 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP but is coming off a bad start against the Nationals. Adam Dunn and Company plated five runs, four earned, on six hits in 4 1/3 innings.
This afternoon will be Kenshin Kawakami’s first career start at Wrigley … he is 2-3 in seven road starts this season with a 5.65 ERA and a 1.77 WHIP.
- Andres Blanco – 1-for-3
- Milton Bradley – 0-for-2
- Mike Fontenot – 1-for-2
- Kosuke Fukudome – 1-for-3
- Derrek Lee – 1-for-3 with a double
- Alfonso Soriano – 1-for-4 with a home run
- Geovany Soto – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Ryan Theriot – 0-for-4
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….