Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Diamondbacks – 05/01/10

Game Twenty-Five: Cubs (11-13) vs. Diamondbacks (11-12)
Game Time – 12:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Carlos Silva (2-0, 1.73/0.77) vs. Dan Haren (3-1, 4.50/1.18)

It is a new month and hopefully no one will tell Kosuke Fukudome. The Cubs finished the first month of the Twenty-Ten season with an 11-13 record … third place in the NL Central, 4 1/2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

Lou Piniella’s crew has two games left on a 19-game stretch without an off day that began on April 14. Following Monday’s day off, the Cubs begin a six-game road trip with stops in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. The Cubs have three days off in the month of May.

There are a couple of Cubs that could use a break, while players like Xavier Nady and Chad Tracy could use time in the field … and multiple at bats in a game. Dan Haren isn’t as effective against lefties and today might be a good time to give Chad Tracy his second start of the season.

The Cubs are hitting but until Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee break out of their slumps, Lou Piniella’s offense will continue to struggle producing runs.

Piniella said on Friday he would not start using Carlos Zambrano on back-to-back days until after his fourth relief appearance. Z has thrown three times out of the pen so look for Zambrano to not be available this afternoon.

Can the Cubs win two games in a row? It all starts with Carlos Silva …

Can Carlos Silva continue pitching the way he has over the past two months? Granted Spring Training stats are meaningless but since his outing against the White Sox, Silva has been better than anyone could have expected.

The Nationals were a good test for Silva but today will be his first outing against an offense that can put up runs in a hurry. Arizona has scored 10 runs off of Ted Lilly and Randy Wells so how will Carlos Silva fare?

Silva is coming off another quality start, his fourth in a row, against the Nationals. Silva allowed three runs on seven hits in seven innings with a walk, three strikeouts and he hit a couple of batters. Silva must be at the top of his game this afternoon.

While Silva is 2-0 this season, the Cubs are 3-1 in his four starts … and as was the case in April, Silva could easily be 4-0.

Today will be Carlos Silva’s second career start against the Diamondbacks. He is 0-1 in six career appearances, one start, with a 5.59 ERA and a 1.97 WHIP. The last time he faced Arizona was back on July 4, 2004. Silva and the Twins lost to the D’Backs 6-2 and Silva allowed four runs on nine hits with a walk and three strikeouts in six innings.

Kelly Johnson (2-for-6) is the only current Diamondback that has faced Carlos Silva … for the record, Mark Grace faced Silva once and walked in his only plate appearance.

The Cubs will face one of the best pitchers in the National League … that is off to an inconsistent start to the season. One outing Dan Haren is Dan Haren and the next he struggles. The Cubs have made pitchers with less ability than Dan Haren look very good this season. It will be interesting to see if the Cubs start producing runs now that the calendar has flipped to May.

There was a pattern over the first month of the season for Dan Haren. One outing dominant, next mediocre. Here’s how Haren fared in his first five starts:

  • April 5 – Padres – one run on three hits in seven innings with no walks and four strikeouts
  • April 10 – Pirates – six runs, five earned, on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings with two walks and nine strikeouts
  • April 15 – at the Dodgers – two runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings with two walks and seven strikeouts
  • April 20 – Cardinals – seven runs on nine hits in six innings with two walks and eight strikeouts
  • April 26 – at the Rockies – two runs on five hits in eight innings with two walks and 10 strikeouts

The Cubs have had success against Haren in the past (1-2 in four career starts with a 5.84 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP) but last year Haren tossed a complete game against the Cubs. Haren allowed just two runs on three hits without a walk and struck out 10.

Cubs’ Career Numbers against Dan Haren

  • Jeff Baker – 2-for-6 with a walk
  • Marlon Byrd – 7-for-13 with a double, a triple and a walk
  • Mike Fontenot – 1-for-4 with a home run
  • Kosuke Fukudome – 0-for-6 with a walk
  • Derrek Lee – 1-for-7 with a double and a walk
  • Xavier Nady – 0-for-3
  • Aramis Ramirez – 2-for-7 with a double and a walk
  • Alfonso Soriano – 7-for-21 with 3 doubles and 3 home runs
  • Geovany Soto – 0-for-6
  • Ryan Theriot – 0-for-7
  • Chad Tracy – 0-for-1

Lou Piniella should load the lineup with lefties this afternoon. In a small sample size this season, lefties are hitting .254 with three home runs and five walks against Haren, while righties are managing just a .232 average with three homers and three walks … 23 of Haren’s 38 strikeouts on the season have come against right-handed hitters.

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