Game Two: Cubs (0-1) vs. Braves (1-0)
Game Time – 6:10pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – Turner Field, Atlanta
Ryan Dempster (0-0, -.–/-.–) vs. Jair Jurrjens (0-0, -.–/-.–)
After being embarrassed on Opening Day, the Cubs will try to post their first win of the young season tonight behind Ryan Dempster.
Dempster quietly had a good spring and at times threw the ball extremely well. Dempster will have his hands full tonight with a much-improved Braves’ offense.
The Cubs offense must get production from the bottom third of the lineup … 0-for-10 from Alfonso Soriano, Mike Fontenot and Geovany Soto will not win many ballgames. And it will not get any easier for Lou Piniella’s crew tonight with Jair Jurrjens on the hill.
Look for Piniella to start using Xavier Nady to spell Alfonso Soriano in left. The Cubs feel Nady might be able to help them more early in the season in left, than in right, due to the shorter throws. The plan for Tyler Colvin is to use him in center and right behind Marlon Byrd and Kosuke Fukudome. Ryan Dempster is coming off an 11-9 record in 2009 with a 3.65 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP in 31 games. Dempster reached his goal of 200 innings but personal problems contributed to Dempster not performing to the level he did in 2008.
Dempster struggled on the road last season (4-5 in 17 starts with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP, teams hit 30 points higher against Dempster on the road … .274/.244) and he must improve away from Wrigley this year.
Tonight will be Dempster’s 16th career start against the Braves. He has beaten the Braves only twice in 26 career games … 2-11 with two saves, two complete games, a 5.14 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP. Last year, Dempster lost his only start against Atlanta … two runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings with four walks and six strikeouts.
Ryan Dempster has never beaten the Braves at Turner Field (0-8 in 15 games, nine starts, with a 5.10 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP).
Braves’ Career Numbers against Ryan Dempster
- Yunel Escobar – 1-for-6
- Troy Glaus – 2-for-9 with a double, a triple and a walk
- Eric Hinske – 0-for-4
- Chipper Jones – 11-for-40 with 3 doubles, a home run and 7 walks
- Nate McLouth – 5-for-15 with a double, a home run and 3 walks
- Martin Prado – 1-for-1
The Cubs will get their second look at one of the best young pitchers in all of baseball tonight. Jair Jurrjens posted a 14-10 record for Bobby Cox a season ago. In 34 starts and a career-high 215 innings, Jurrjens struck out 152 batters while walking 75 batters. Jurrjens was one of the few pitchers in the league to finish the season with a sub-3 ERA … 2.60 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP.
The Cubs beat Jurrjens last July 6 in Chicago … the only time they have faced the 24-year old right-hander. The Cubs were patient and scored four runs on seven hits in six innings with three walks … Jurrjens struck out one.
The Cubs must make him work tonight and not go to the plate swinging.
Cubs’ Career Numbers against Jair Jurrjens
- Jeff Baker – 1-for-4
- Marlon Byrd – 0-for-1
- Mike Fontenot – 1-for-3
- Kosuke Fukudome – 2-for-2 with a double and a walk
- Derrek Lee – 1-for-3 with a home run
- Xavier Nady – 1-for-3
- Aramis Ramirez – 0-for-3
- Alfonso Soriano – 1-for-3 with a double
- Geovany Soto – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Ryan Theriot – 1-for-2
- Chad Tracy – 4-for-7 with a double and a home run
Win or lose, tonight it is all about how the Cubs play the game.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …