Game One Hundred Twenty-Three: Cubs (50-72) vs. Braves (71-50)
Game Time – 1:20pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Ryan Dempster (11-8, 3.62/1.31) vs. Jair Jurrjens (5-4, 3.92/1.23)
The Cubs open a three-game series this afternoon against Derrek Lee and the Atlanta Braves. Lee is expected to make his first start in a Braves’ uniform after being dealt to Atlanta on Wednesday. Derrek Lee was issued #27 and when Lee steps in to the box today against Ryan Dempster, it will mark the first time the two longtime teammates have faced each other in a big league game.
Derrek Lee was one of the classiest players to ever wear a Cubs’ uniform and hopefully the fans in attendance will show their appreciation this afternoon.
Lou Piniella’s crew is reeling. They have lost seven in a row at Wrigley and have posted a pathetic 4-14 record in August. It would be nice to see the Chicago National League Ballclub finish the season on a positive note. The Cubs are 8-20 since Lou Piniella announced his retirement … and remain on a pace to lose 100 games for the first time since 1966 (103 losses).
The Cubs are 1-2 in three games against Atlanta this season and will see a much different roster than they faced on Opening Day. Not only did the Braves add Derrek Lee, but they also traded for Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth at the deadline. Plus, future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones is out for the remainder of the season.
Today’s pitching match-up is a rematch of the second game of the season. The Braves won game two after the Cubs’ pen could not hold a lead for Ryan Dempster …
From the disturbing Cubs stat department … Over the last 70 years, the Cubs have won 50 games at home just three times, three.
Today it all begins with Ryan Dempster … Since the departure of Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster is 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP, by far his best stretch of the season … at least Dempster is trying to lead by example.
Dempster is coming off a win against the Cardinals last Sunday. Dempster threw strikes again and made only one mistake in his 6 2/3 innings of work … he served up another home run to Albert Pujols, the fourth time this season Pujols had taken Dempster deep.
After a stretch of struggling with his command in July (22 walks in 34 innings) and giving up a lot of hits (40), Dempster has walked only seven in his last 19 1/3 innings but still needs to improve his strikeout to walk ratio. In order for Dempster to post wins consistently, a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio is a must.
Dempster faced the Braves back in the second game of the season and took a no decision after John Grabow blew his first save of the season … a sign of things to come. Dempster allowed just one run on three hits in six innings, He struck out nine and walked two but Grabow gave up a pair in the eighth and cost the Cubs, and Dempster, their first win of the year.
Today will be Ryan Dempster’s 17th career start against the Braves … 2-11 in 27 games, 16 starts, with a 4.94 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP.
Braves Career Numbers against Ryan Dempster
- Rick Ankiel – 1-for-10
- Melky Cabrera – 1-for-3
- Matt Diaz – 0-for-1
- Alex Gonzalez – 2-for-3
- Jason Heyward – 1-for-2 with a double
- Eric Hinske – 0-for-4
- Omar Infante – 0-for-1
- Jair Jurrjens – 0-for-2
- Brian McCann – 0-for-7 with 3 walks
- Martin Prado – 2-for-4
Jair Jurrjens has pitched extremely well since returning from the DL on June 30. The Braves are 7-2 in his last nine starts and he is 2-0 in his last three with a 1.77 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. Since the break, Jurrjens is 4-1 in seven starts with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP.
Jurrjens is coming off seven impressive innings, and a win, against the Dodgers. The Braves scored 13 runs for Jurrjens and he limited Joe Torre’s team to a run on six hits with a walk and seven strikeouts.
This afternoon will be Jurrjens third career start versus the Cubs, the second at Wrigley. He is 0-1 in the first two with a 3.27 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP.
Cubs Career Numbers against Jair Jurrjens
- Jeff Baker – 1-for-4
- Marlon Byrd – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Ryan Dempster – 1-for-2
- Blake DeWitt – 2-for-4 with a walk
- Kosuke Fukudome – 2-for-5 with a double and a walk
- Xavier Nady – 1-for-3
- Aramis Ramirez – 0-for-5
- Alfonso Soriano – 2-for-5 with 2 doubles
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …