Game One Hundred Thirty-Nine: Cubs (71-67) vs. Reds (63-77)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Rich Harden (9-8, 4.10/1.30) vs. Justin Lehr (4-1, 4.43/1.46)
Eight years ago today our world changed … the CCO asks all of our readers to take a moment of silence for those that lost their lives in the events of September 11, 2001.
The Cubs return to the field today and open their penultimate homestand of the season. Lou Piniella’s crew has three against the Reds before welcoming the Brewers in for a four-game series starting on Monday night.
The Cubs will face a much-different Reds team than the one they faced in early August in the Queen City. Injuries have forced Dusty Baker to play a lot of their young talent. The Reds were playing very good ball until running into the Colorado Rockies. The Reds posted seven wins in a row before getting swept in the four-game series in Colorado.
The Reds are looking to finish the season strong. Rumors have suggested Dusty Baker’s job could depend on how the Reds play for the remainder of the year.
Today is a rematch of the game back on August 5 in Cincinnati. Justin Lehr shutout the Cubs and Rich Harden … and started the Cubs tailspin. Going into that game the Cubs had a chance to complete the sweep of the Reds and take sole possession of first place in the National League Central.
The Cubs have won eight of the first 12 against the Reds this season.
Milton Bradley is expected back in the lineup today. Bradley left after the first inning on Tuesday with tightness in his legs and was held out in the finale on Wednesday. Sam Fuld and Andres Blanco are also expected to be fully healthy after missing time due to various injuries on the road trip.
Today it all begins with Rich Harden and not mailing in the remainder of the season … Rich Harden will make his 25th start of the year this afternoon. Many felt when the season began if the Cubs could get 25 starts out of Harden they would be in good shape coming down the stretch. Well that didn’t exactly workout but not because of Rich Harden, because the offense has consistently underachieved all season.
Harden is coming off a win against the Mets .. and has been lights out in the second half. Harden’s had one bad start since the break and has struck out 19 batters in his last 10 innings. The only problem with Harden of late has been his elevated pitch count, which has limited him to only 10 innings in his last two games.
The Mets managed only two runs, one earned, on seven hits in five innings. Harden struck out 10 and issued just one free pass.
Rich Harden is 4-2 in his last 10 starts with a 2.40 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. Opponents have hit just .180 against him.
Today will be Harden’s fourth and final start of the year against the Reds. He is 2-1 with a 2.50 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP. In 18 innings against the Reds, Harden has struck out 25 and walked just six batters.
- Wladimir Balentien – 1-for-3
- Jonny Gomes – 0-for-2
- Ryan Hanigan – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Justin Lehr – 0-for-2
- Laynce Nix – 3-for-19 with a double and a walk
- Brandon Phillips – 1-for-10
- Scott Rolen – 1-for-8 with a home run and a walk
- Willy Taveras – 2-for-8
- Joey Votto – 1-for-10 with a home run and a walk
The last time the Cubs faced Justin Lehr they allowed him to have the best day of his big league career … in his second career start. Lehr tossed a complete game shutout and beat Rich Harden 4-0. Harden was extremely vocal about his team’s lack of effort following the loss.
Justin Lehr, like so many of the relatively unknown pitchers that have dominated the Cubs this season, has been mediocre at best in his last four starts. Lehr beat the Cardinals and held them to just one run in six innings after he beat the Cubs, but since he has given up 18 earned runs in four starts.
Lehr was skipped in his last turn through the rotation with a strained groin. The Cubs must make him work this afternoon. He is 2-1 in three road starts this season with a 5.79 ERA and a 1.77 WHIP.
Lehr won his last start against the Pirates. He allowed four runs on six hits in six innings with five walks and two strikeouts.
Since his ‘dominating‘ start against the Cubs, Lehr has walked 12 batters with only 12 strikeouts. The Cubs must be patient and not walk to the plate swinging again.
- Andres Blanco – 0-for-1
- Milton Bradley – 1-for-2 with a walk
- Mike Fontenot – 0-for-3
- Jake Fox – 0-for-1
- Kosuke Fukudome – 0-for-4
- Sam Fuld – 0-for-1
- Rich Harden – 1-for-2 with a double
- Koyie Hill – 0-for-2
- Derrek Lee – 1-for-4 with a walk
- Aaron Miles – 0-for-3
- Aramis Ramirez – 0-for-5
- Alfonso Soriano – 3-for-7 with a double
- Ryan Theriot – 0-for-1
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….