Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Reds – 07/24/09

Game Ninety-Four: Cubs (48-45) vs. Reds (44-50)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Randy Wells (5-4, 3.00/1.15) vs. Aaron Harang (5-10, 4.17/1.42)

Updated – 12:01pm C.T. – Ted Lilly Scratched from Saturday’s Start with Left Shoulder Soreness Kevin Hart will start Saturday and Rich Harden will pitch the series finale on Sunday.

Updated – 1:18pm C.T. – Ted Lilly Expected to be placed on the DL

Weather permitting … The Cubs return to the field this afternoon for the first of three against Dusty Baker and the Cincinnati Reds. The Cubs enter play today 1 1/2 games back of the Cardinals, tied for second with the Astros in the Central Division … the Cubs actually have one less loss than the division leading Redbirds.

The Cubs are coming off a nice 5-2 road trip while the Reds were just swept by the Dodgers in a three-game series in Los Angeles. The Cubs have played much better at home this season (27-18) than on the road (21-27) and the next seven games at Wrigley are all against division rivals. Following the Reds series, the Cubs host the Astros for four games next week.

The Cubs missed Joey Votto during the three-game series back in June in Cincinnati. Votto loves hitting Cubs’ pitching (.314/.379/.756/1.135 eight doubles, 10 home runs and 24 RBI in 24 games). Ten of Votto’s 41 career longballs have been hit against the Cubs and they must not allow him to get comfortable in the box this weekend. The Cubs and Reds always play close games and not allowing Votto to beat them is key to the weekend series.

The Cubs offense has shown signs of waking up since the break. Since June 28, the Cubs are 13-9. They are averaging six runs per game in the wins (78 total runs scored) but just a grand total of 11 runs scored in the nine losses.

The Cubs received good news on Thursday’s off day. The x-rays on Ryan Dempster’s toe were positive and he will work on strengthening his legs this weekend. The Cubs thought Dempster might return on Sunday against the Reds but they have decided to stick with Kevin Hart and give Dempster a little more time. Dempster is slated to be activated from the DL on Thursday and start the finale of the homestand against the Astros.

Ron Santo will be back in the booth this afternoon for the first time since July 10. Keith Moreland pinch hit for Santo and did an excellent job along side of Pat Hughes. The Cubs must figure a way to get ‘Zonk‘ in future Cubs’ broadcasts, either on the radio or on TV.

While the offense must do their job against Aaron Harang, it all begins with Randy Wells … and one win at a time.

Randy Wells is coming off his fifth win of the year but it was not a good start. Wells gave up four runs to the Nationals in five innings … the second consecutive outing Wells allowed four runs. Wells did not fool the Nationals at all and must refocus today against the Reds.

Wells is 1-1 in his last two starts with a 6.00 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP (eight runs, all earned, on 14 hits with four walks and five strikeouts in 12 innings) … and in his last four outings, 3-1 with a 3.96 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. The league appears to be figuring him out a little (.284 average) and it is up to Wells to make the adjustments.

For as good as Wells has been this season, he has been more successful on the road (3-1 in seven starts with a 2.62 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP) than at Wrigley (2-3 in six starts with a 3.47 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP) … opponents are hitting 45 points higher against Wells at home (.275) than on the road (.230).

Today will be Randy Wells’ second start of the year against the Reds. He received a no-decision in Cincinnati back on June 7. Wells allowed two runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings with a walk and four strikeouts … the Cubs won the 14-inning marathon, 6-3. Wells has faced just one team twice this season (Braves) and made the right adjustments from start to start. Today will be a big test for the Cubs’ young right-hander.

  • Chris Dickerson – 1-for-3 with a double
  • Jonny Gomes – 1-for-3
  • Alex Gonzalez – 0-for-3
  • Jerry Hairston, Jr. – 0-for-3
  • Ryan Hanigan – 1-for-3
  • Laynce Nix – 0-for-3
  • Brandon Phillips – 1-for-2 with a walk

The Cubs will see a very familiar face on the mound for the Reds this afternoon … today will be Aaron Harang’s 21st career start against the Cubs. Harang has struggled mightily of late and has not posted a win since May 25 against the Astros, and that came with a ton of controversy.

While Aaron Harang has not posted a victory (0-2 in four starts with a 5.09 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP), the Reds are 2-2 in his last four starts. Harang is coming off a loss to the Brewers in which he allowed four runs, three earned, on seven hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in seven innings.

Aaron Harang has been a much different pitcher on the road (1-6 in 10 starts with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP) than at home (4-4 in 10 starts with a 2.95 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP). The Cubs must make Harang work and not allow him to get into a comfort zone.

Today will be Harang’s second start of the year against the Cubs. He dominated Lou Piniella’s crew at Wrigley back on April 23. The Cubs managed one unearned run on seven hits in seven innings. The Reds beat Carlos Zambrano 7-1.

  • Milton Bradley – 1-for-5 with a double and a walk
  • Mike Fontenot – 4-for-12 with a double, a home run and 2 walks
  • Kosuke Fukudome – 3-for-9 with 2 walks
  • Micah Hoffpauir – 2-for-6 with a walk
  • Derrek Lee – 14-for-49 with 2 doubles, 5 home runs and 6 walks
  • Aramis Ramirez – 12-for-43 with a triple, 3 home runs and 2 walks
  • Alfonso Soriano – 6-for-25 with 2 doubles and a walk
  • Ryan Theriot – 10-for-30 with a double and 2 walks

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….

Updated - According to a report from Bruce Levine on ESPN 1000, Ted Lilly has been scratched from Saturday’s start against the Reds with soreness in his left shoulder. Will update if more information becomes available …

Updated 1:18pm C.T.According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, Ted Lilly is expected to be placed on the DL in the next two days. Will update if additional information becomes available …

Quote of the Day

"Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow." - Plato
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