Game One Hundred Twenty-Nine: Cubs (65-63) vs. Astros (62-68)
Game Time – 7:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Rich Harden (8-7, 3.99/1.25) vs. Roy Oswalt (7-5, 3.86/1.21)
The Cubs enter play on the final day of August ten games back in the division, with the Brewers on their heals, and five and half games behind the Rockies and Giants in the NL Wild Card (the Braves and Marlins both three and half back) Could the Cubs make a run at the final playoff spot in the Senior Circuit, yes, but they would have to do something they have not done for the first 128 games … play consistent, winning baseball.
The Cubs are 11-16 this month and by the time the first pitch is thrown, may be without Aaron Heilman and Rich Harden. While moving Harden at this point is highly unlikely, trading Aaron Heilman for a PTBNL at this point would mean one less move Jim Hendry must make over the winter.
The Cubs will face the Astros for the final three times this season. Lou Piniella’s crew is 9-5 this year against Houston. Wandy Rodriguez was slated to start the opener against the Cubs but Cecil Cooper decided to use Rodriguez on Sunday against the Diamondbacks and will begin the series in Chicago with Roy Oswalt.
The Astros traded Ivan Rodriguez to the Rangers, so the Cubs’ pitching staff will not have to deal with him during the series, but the Astros have more than enough offense to make this series more than challenging. Many are looking at the Houston Astros sub-.500 record as three ‘easy wins‘ for the Cubs, but in many ways they are a better team than the one on the North Side of Chicago.
Lou Piniella indicated on Sunday that Koyie Hill would receive more playing time than Geovany Soto for the remainder of the year. Piniella said they have done everything they could to get Soto going offensively. The reigning NL Rookie of the Year has played his way into a back-up role … just one of the many reasons the Cubs have underachieved all season.
Alfonso Soriano received a cortisone shot in his knee on Sunday and will miss at least tonight’s game. Reports have indicated Soriano will return to the starting lineup on Tuesday … look for Jake Fox in left tonight.
Tonight it all starts with Rich Harden and one hit and one run at a time … Rich Harden has been as good as it gets since the All-Star break. While Harden has only three wins (and one loss) to show for his effort, Harden has posted a 1.80 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP while holding teams to a .151 batting average. Harden has 60 strikeouts and just 16 walks in 50 innings.
Harden is coming off a no-decision to the Nationals. He gave up just two runs on five hits in six innings with two walks and five strikeouts. The Cubs won the game 9-4, their only win against the Nationals, after a six-run eighth inning.
The Astros roughed up Rich Harden in his only start against them this season. Back on May 17 at Wrigley, the Astros scored four runs on six hits in six innings with three walks and seven strikeouts.
Harden is 1-1 in three career starts against the ‘Stros with a 5.30 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP.
- Lance Berkman – 2-for-5 with a double, a home run and 2 walks
- Geoff Blum – 4-for-12 with a double, a home run and a walk
- Michael Bourn – 1-for-7
- Jeff Keppinger – 1-for-3
- Carlos Lee – 4-for-17 with a triple and 2 walks
- Kaz Matsui – 4-for-10 with a triple
- Jason Michaels – 0-for-2
- Hunter Pence – 3-for-9 with a double
- Humberto Quintero – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Miguel Tejada – 2-for-12 with a double
The last time Roy O took the hill at Wrigley he lasted just 1 2/3 innings, left with an injury and missed a couple of starts. Roy Oswalt struggled in his two outings following his return (six runs on nine hits in five innings in Miami, five runs on eight hits in six innings in Milwaukee) but has been lights out since.
Oswalt beat the Diamondbacks 1-0 back on August 21, then gave up just three runs in a loss to the Cardinals (Astros lost 3-2). The Cardinals hit Oswalt around to the tune of ten hits but managed just the three runs.
The Cubs are 1-0 in three starts against Roy O this season … Oswalt owns a 3.68 ERA against Lou Piniella’s crew with a 1.02 WHIP. Oswalt has walked just one Cub this season in 14 2/3 innings with 11 strikeouts.
Oswalt is 12-12 in 29 career games, 28 starts, versus the Cubs with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP.
- Milton Bradley – 3-for-9 with a home run and 2 walks
- Mike Fontenot – 4-for-14 with a double
- Kosuke Fukudome – 2-for-13
- Koyie Hill – 1-for-2 with a walk
- Derrek Lee – 16-for-56 with 4 doubles, 3 home runs and 5 walks
- Aaron Miles – 3-for-17 with a double
- Aramis Ramirez – 16-for-64 with 3 doubles and 4 home runs
- Alfonso Soriano – 9-for-39 with 3 home runs
- Geovany Soto – 4-for-12 with a double and a triple
- Ryan Theriot – 4-for-13 with a double and a walk
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….