Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Pirates – 05/04/10

Game Twenty-Seven: Cubs (13-13) vs. Pirates (10-15)
Game Time – 6:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh

Ryan Dempster (2-1, 2.78/0.98) vs. Paul Maholm (1-2, 4.83/1.42)

Can the Cubs finally get over the .500-mark for the season? After breaking even for the fourth time in Twenty-Ten on Sunday, the Cubs begin a six-game road trip tonight with the first of three against the Pirates.

The Cubs won 10 of 14 versus the Bucs last season and after they leave Cincinnati on Sunday their schedule gets a lot more difficult … at least on paper. The Cubs have had success against the Pirates in the past but are 1-2 on the year against the Reds. After the Pirates and Reds, the Cubs face the Marlins, Pirates again, Rockies, Phillies, Rangers, Dodgers and Cardinals before ending the month against Pittsburgh.

A day after his 33rd birthday, Ryan Dempster will take the hill in search of his third win of the season. Dempster enters play tonight two strikeouts shy of 1,400 for his career.

Xavier Nady is expected to get the start tonight in right field against the Pirates lefty, while Jeff Baker will be at second with Paul Maholm on the mound. Following two days off, Aramis Ramirez will be back at the hot corner as well. Alfonso Soriano has good career numbers versus Maholm … Can Soriano stay hot tonight and throughout the road trip?

The Pirates have a young, exciting team led by Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones. McCutchen hurt his ankle on Sunday in Los Angeles and is listed as day-to-day. While the Bucs can score runs, their pitching staff is questionable at best. The key to beating the Pirates is getting into their bullpen as soon as possible.

For those that missed the news, former Cub Kevin Hart will undergo season-ending surgery (torn labrum) on his right shoulder Tuesday.

While the offense, and defense, must pick up where they left off on Sunday, tonight it all starts with Ryan Dempster

It would not be going out on a limb to say Ryan Dempster should be 5-0 this season … instead Dempster is 2-1 and each of his two no decisions and his lone loss the Cubs lost 3-2. Dempster has done his job and even took responsibility for losing to the Nationals with the Cubs had countless opportunities against a rookie pitcher.

Dempster is coming off his longest outing of the season. He threw eight innings in the loss to the Nationals … and allowed three runs on four hits with a walk and six strikeouts.

While Dempster has thrown the ball well all season, he has been better on the road than at Wrigley. In his two starts outside of the Friendly Confines, Dempster is 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. Dempster has issued just three walks in 13 2/3 innings and has struck out 13.

In 35 2/3 innings, Dempster has just over a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio (32 strikeouts, 10 walks) and must continue throwing strikes tonight. The Pirates can hit the ball and score runs, Dempster must not help them out and give a young team confidence in the first game of the series.

Tonight will be Ryan Dempster’s 18th career start against the Battlin’ Bucs (6-7 in 42 games, 17 starts, with nine saves, two blown, a complete game shutout and a 5.46 ERA with a 1.61 WHIP) … at PNC, Dempster is 2-4 in 19 games, six starts, with a 5.44 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP (six saves, one blown).

The Cubs’ number one right-handed starter posted a 2-0 record against the Pirates last season in three starts. Dempster tossed a complete game shutout but allowed 10 runs, all earned, on 20 hits in 19 1/3 innings (4.66 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP).

Pirates’ Career Numbers against Ryan Dempster

  • Ronny Cedeno – 1-for-2
  • Ryan Church – 0-for-3
  • Ryan Doumit – 2-for-12 with a walk
  • Aki Iwamura – 0-for-2 with a walk
  • Jason Jaramillo – 3-for-6 with a double
  • Garrett Jones – 1-for-7 with a home run
  • Andy LaRoche – 3-for-9 with 2 doubles
  • Paul Maholm – 0-for-1
  • Andrew McCutchen – 1-for-8
  • Lastings Milledge – 2-for-11 with a walk
  • Delwyn Young – 2-for-3

Paul Maholm is coming off a good start against the Brewers (four runs on seven hits in seven innings with five walks and six strikeouts) but has not posted a win since April 18 (Reds). Maholm has struggled with his command and his not throwing as many strikes this season than in years past. Maholm can be very good when he is on, the Cubs must be patient early in the game. If Lou Piniella’s offense can make him work and not allow Maholm to get comfortable, Ryan Dempster should get plenty of run support.

Maholm is 1-1 in two starts at PNC this season with a 4.26 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP.

Tonight will be Maholm’s tenth career start versus the Cubs. While the Cubs have hit him pretty hard, they have only beat him once (August 2, 2008). The Pirates have historically put up a lot of runs on the days Paul Maholm starts against the Cubs.

Maholm is 4-1 in nine career starts versus Chicago with a 7.06 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP.

Cubs’ Career Numbers against Paul Maholm

  • Jeff Baker – 2-for-3 with two doubles
  • Ryan Dempster – 0-for-1
  • Mike Fontenot – 1-for-4
  • Kosuke Fukudome – 0-for-4
  • Derrek Lee – 7-for-21 with 3 doubles and a walk
  • Xavier Nady – 1-for-5 with a walk
  • Aramis Ramirez – 8-for-20 with a double, two home runs and a walk
  • Alfonso Soriano – 6-for-18 with a double, three home runs and 3 walks
  • Geovany Soto – 3-for-7 with a walk
  • Ryan Theriot – 6-for-18 with 4 doubles and 4 walks
  • Chad Tracy – 3-for-6 with a walk
  • Carlos Zambrano – 1-for-3

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