Game Thirty-Three: Cubs (14-18) vs. Marlins (14-17)
Game Time – 7:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Ted Lilly (1-2, 5.29/1.35) vs. Nate Robertson (2-3, 4.85/1.55)
Weather permitting … Lou Piniella’s crew starts an eight-game homestand tonight in need of a win. When the Cubs left for Pittsburgh a week ago they were 13-13 with thoughts of “getting fat” against the Pirates and Reds. Well the Cubs won only one game and limped back to Chicago four games under .500 with more questions than answers.
The Cubs enter play tonight 14-18, six games back of the Cardinals … fifth place in the Central Division.
According to a report in the Daily Herald, several players remained on the bench following Sunday’s loss and stared onto the field. Koyie Hill had a few words following another disappointing defeat. From the Herald:
“We’re going to have to do some self-evaluation and figure out what we need to do and prepare for that next one. All you can do is see the good teams. They take it one game at a time, that next pitch, that next out, next game, and fight back in it then. From our standards, ‘bad’ is a generous word to use. Nobody’s satisfied. Nobody’s happy. Our heads are up. I think we’re eager to become better, yes, but we’re not walking out of here proud by any means. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The Cubs are not hitting, and their pitching has not been much better. Granted the Cubs have shown signs of breaking out of their funk but they have not faced the level of competition they will over the next three weeks.
They do not have another prized prospect ready for a call-up. So the high-priced veterans, namely Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, must start producing. If not the Cubs will be so far back by the end of the month only a winning streak of historic proportions will put them back in the hunt for a spot in the post-season.
The Marlins, despite their record, is arguably the best team the Cubs have faced so far this season … and the Cubs do not have a track record of playing good ball against the Florida Marlins organization (4-3 against the Fish in 2009).
The Cubs will catch a break of sorts and will not face Josh Johnson but Ricky Nolasco, who loves sticking it to the Cubs since being dealt for Juan Pierre, is slated to start Tuesday night and Chris Volstad will take the hill Wednesday afternoon.
Starlin Castro will make his debut Wrigley Field debut tonight. Hopefully the fans, as well the mainstream media, remember Castro is 20-years old and is not a savior. Castro is a single piece of a large puzzle … that is all.
While Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez try to figure out how to hit a baseball again, tonight it all starts with Ted Lilly … The Cubs say it is still Spring Training for Ted Lilly. The problem with that statement is that these games count. Lilly is coming off another rough outing and has not thrown the ball the way the Cubs need their number two starter to perform.
Lilly put the Cubs in an early hole in his last start. Coupled with the way the Cubs are not scoring runs and that is a recipe for another loss. Lilly gave up three runs in the first three innings to the Pirates. The two runs in the third came after three straight doubles. Lilly served it up and the Pirates hit it … if his stuff is not better tonight it will get ugly quick. The Marlins are a significantly better team than the Bucs.
Lilly has continued to limit his walks (four in 17 innings) but location and lack of velocity has resulted in two poor starts for ‘The Bulldog’.
The Cubs need Ted Lilly to start their homestand on a positive note.
Ted Lilly is just 1-4 in six career starts against the Fish with a 4.54 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP … last season, Lilly dominated the Marlins at Wrigley Field. Lilly held Florida to one run on five hits in eight innings with no walks and a season-high 10 strikeouts. Cubs beat the Marlins that afternoon 6-1.
Marlins’ Career Numbers against Ted Lilly
- Brian Barden – 0-for-5
- Jorge Cantu – 4-for-15 with a double and a walk
- Brett Carroll – 1-for-3
- Wes Helms – 1-for-7 with a walk
- Cameron Maybin – 1-for-3
- Ronny Paulino – 7-for-13 with 2 doubles, a home run and a walk
- Hanley Ramirez – 1-for-10
- Cody Ross – 1-for-3 with a walk
- Dan Uggla – 2-for-5 with 2 home runs
Nate Robertson came over from the Detroit Tigers late in the spring and has struggled at times in his first six games. Robertson has been inconsistent … one inning great, next inning mediocre at best. The best example was his start against the Padres on April 28.
Robertson did not allow a hit through four innings then allowed not only a hit in the fifth but five runs without recording an out. The Cubs must be patient with the southpaw and not help him out. If they show enough patience they will get plenty of help from Robertson.
The Marlins are 2-4 in Robertson’s six starts. Robertson is coming off a loss to the Giants. He gave up three runs, two earned, on six hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Tonight will be Nate Robertson’s third career appearance against the Cubs. He is 1-0 in two games, one start, with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. Robertson held the Cubs to two runs on five hits in seven innings with two walks and two strikeouts on June 16, 2006 at Wrigley Field.
Cubs’ Career Numbers against Nate Robertson
- Marlon Byrd – 3-for-5 with a double and a triple
- Kosuke Fukudome – 1-for-1
- Koyie Hill – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Aramis Ramirez – 3-for-6 with a home run
- Alfonso Soriano – 2-for-17 with a home run and a walk
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …