Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Astros – 10/03/10

Game One Hundred Sixty-Two: Cubs (75-86) vs. Astros (75-86)
Game Time – 1:05pm CDT
Coverage – Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Minute Maid Park, Houston

Ryan Dempster (15-11, 3.83/1.31) vs. Nelson Figueroa (6-4, 3.52/1.26)

This is itGame 162 for the Chicago Cubs. The journey that began in Mesa back in February comes to an end today. While many did not predict greatness for the Twenty-Ten Chicago Cubs, no one thought they would have the season they did. 2010 will be remembered for only a few things, as many try to forget it as soon as possible, but this year was really a tale of two seasons …

The seemingly daily drama of the Chicago Cubs led to a 51-74 record under Lou Piniella. After Piniella stepped down on August 22, the Cubs have played better ball. The win-loss record is irrelevant (24-12 under Mike Quade), but the improved play shows that Lou lost his team long before he officially departed.

Mike Quade’s starting nine this afternoon will have some of the same pieces from Lou Piniella’s Opening Day lineup in Atlanta. Lou’s lineup against Derek Lowe: Ryan Theriot (SS), Kosuke Fukudome (RF), Derrek Lee (1B), Aramis Ramirez (3B), Marlon Byrd (CF), Alfonso Soriano (LF), Mike Fontenot (2B), Geovany Soto (C), Carlos Zambrano (P)

The Cubs enter play this afternoon 7-10 versus the Astros after picking up their first series win against Houston this season. Wandy Rodriguez was scratched from today’s start on Saturday afternoon with back spasms. Nelson Figueroa will get the ball on three days rest.

The Cubs have won eight of 12 series under Mike Quade and Saturday’s victory improved the Cubs mark to 24-12 under Mike Quade (17-4 on the road). With one left on the schedule, the Cubs have a 75-86 record (40-40 away from Wrigley) and are tied for fourth in the division with the Houston Astros.

By the Cubs playing game 162 this afternoon, this will be the first time since 2007 the Cubs played a full 162-game schedule. 2010 is also the first season the Cubs have not played a doubleheader since 1985. Since 1880, the Cubs have not played a doubleheader, either a traditional or day-night, only twice … 1881 and 1985.

For the final time in 2010, today it all begins with Ryan Dempster

After just a miserable outing against the Giants, Ryan Dempster earned his 15th win of the season in his last outing. Dempster beat the Padres 5-2 after allowing two runs on four hits in seven innings. Dempster walked two, struck out nine and made only one mistake … he served up a two-run homer to Nick Hundley.

Dempster continues being a workhorse for the Cubs. While Dempster should be a number three on a team with championship aspirations, he has pitched at least 200 innings in each season since he returned to the rotation in 2008. Dempster has already topped his season highs from 2008 (206 2/3) and 2009 (200) with 209 1/3 complete this year … and for the first time in a Cubs’ uniform, Dempster reached the 200-strikeout mark this season.

Ryan Dempster is 10-4 in 17 road starts this season with a 3.01 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP … the last time Dempster lost on the road was July 30 in Colorado.

Dempster is 3-2 in his last five starts with a 4.61 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP and will make his fourth start of the season against Houston. He is 1-0 with a 3.79 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP, his only win versus the ‘Stros came at Minute Maid back on June 5.

Astros Career Numbers against Ryan Dempster

  • Geoff Blum – 15-for-51 with a double and 5 walks
  • Michael Bourn – 8-for-22 with a double and 5 walks
  • Jason Castro – 0-for-3
  • Anderson Hernandez – 3-for-6
  • Chris Johnson – 2-for-3 with a home run
  • Jeff Keppinger – 12-for-26 with 2 doubles, a home run and a walk
  • Carlos Lee – 11-for-33 with 3 doubles, a home run and a walk
  • Hunter Pence – 10-for-31 with a double, 2 home runs and a walk
  • Humberto Quintero – 2-for-10 with a home run and a walk

Wandy Rodriguez was scheduled to start today’s finale but was scratched on Saturday afternoon. Rodriguez has back spasms and felt he could not go more than one inning … so Brad Mills decided to send Nelson Figueroa to the hill on just three days rest.

Figueroa tossed 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball against the Reds last Wednesday in what he thought would be his last start of the year. Figueroa had been awful prior to his start versus the Reds on the day after Cincinnati clinched the Central Division crown.

Figueroa was solid against the Cubs back on September 7 and picked up the win. Figueroa held the Cubs to three runs on six hits in five innings of work.

Figueroa posted a 3-2 mark in six September starts with a 4.83 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP.

This afternoon will be the eighth time Figueroa has started a game versus the Chicago Cubs (2-5 in 13 games, seven starts, with a 4.25 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP).

Cubs Career Numbers against Nelson Figueroa

  • Jeff Baker – 2-for-5 with a walk
  • Darwin Barney – 0-for-2
  • Marlon Byrd – 2-for-5
  • Starlin Castro – 0-for-1
  • Blake DeWitt – 3-for-6 with a home run
  • Kosuke Fukudome – 5-for-9 with a double and 3 walks
  • Sam Fuld – one walk
  • Koyie Hill – 0-for-6
  • Micah Hoffpauir – 1-for-2 with a walk
  • Xavier Nady – 1-for-1 with a walk
  • Aramis Ramirez – 6-for-16 with a double, 2 home runs and 2 walks
  • Bobby Scales – 1-for-2 with a double and a walk
  • Alfonso Soriano – 0-for-2

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Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon