Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Astros – 04/11/11

Game Ten: Cubs (4-5) vs. Astros (2-7)
Game Time – 7:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Minute Maid Park, Houston

Ryan Dempster (0-2, 6.59/1.46) vs. Nelson Figueroa (0-1, 10.13/2.25)

How will Q’s squad respond after giving one away to the Brewers Sunday afternoon? The Cubs failed to hit with runners in scoring position again as well as play questionable defense. Unless improvements are made, the Cubs will continue to struggle in close games. Bottom line with this version of the Chicago Cubs, there is no room for error.

The Cubs need for Ryan Dempster to step up tonight and pitch his team to a victory. The Astros have struggled over their first nine games of the season but always put forth their best effort when they face the Cubs.

The Cubs managed only seven wins versus Houston a year ago (7-11) and a lot of that had to do with Brett Myers domination of the Cubs offense. With Myers pitching Tuesday against James Russell and the pen and Carlos Zambrano facing Wandy Rodriguez Wednesday, if Dempster is not able to put his team in a position to win tonight, it could end up being another frustrating trip to Houston.

Kosuke Fukudome should receive the night off after leaving Sunday’s game in the fifth inning with a mild strain in his left hamstring. Also, don’t be surprised to see Starlin Castro get a breather and Koyie Hill to make his second start of the season.

The offense must be patient with Nelson Figueroa but tonight it all begins with Ryan Dempster

There are no two ways about Ryan Dempster has been horrible so far this season. Mike Quade tabbed Dempster his Opening Day thus slotting him as the number one pitcher on his staff. Dempster has not provided any stability for a rotation that has several holes in it. Dempster is a solid Major League pitcher but not the number one the Cubs are asking him to be.

Dempster struggled with his command in his first two starts (four walks, 16 hits, two home runs allowed) and must start throwing quality strikes and not pitch from behind.

Tonight will be Dempster’s 23rd career start against the Astros … 5-11 in 48 games, 22 starts, with 16 saves, a 4.36 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP. At Minute Maid Park, 3-7 in 23 games, 12 starts, with a 3.76 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP.

Dempster was 1-1 in four starts versus Houston last season with a 3.96 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP … 1-1 in two starts in Houston with a 4.38 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP.

Astros Career Numbers against Ryan Dempster

  • Michael Bourn – 8-for-22 with a double and 5 walks
  • Nelson Figueroa – 1-for-2
  • Bill Hall – 3-for-18
  • Joe Inglett – 2-for-2 with a triple
  • Chris Johnson – 3-for-6 with a home run
  • Carlos Lee – 13-for-36 with 3 doubles, 2 home runs and a walk
  • Jason Michaels – 0-for-1
  • Hunter Pence – 10-for-34 with a double, a home run and a walk
  • Humberto Quintero – 3-for-13 with a home run and a walk
  • Brett Wallace – 1-for-3 with a triple

Nelson Figueroa is not a very good pitcher against the rest of the league, but he’s been very good versus the Cubs for the past two seasons.

Figueroa was 1-1 in two starts against the Cubs while a member of the Mets’ staff in 2009 (3.46 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP). In 2010 with the Astros, Figueroa was a spectacular 2-0 in three games, two starts, with a 2.77 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP.

Two of Figueroa’s seven wins last season came against the Chicago Cubs.

Figueroa struggled mightily in his first start of the season. Figueroa was staked to a 4-0 lead before he ever threw a pitch (Edinson Volquez could not find the strike zone). But the Reds high-powered offense went to work and scored 10 runs, six earned, on 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Nelson Figueroa loved pitching at Minute Maid last season. He posted a solid 4-1 record in 17 games, five starts, with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP.

Cubs Career Numbers against Nelson Figueroa

  • Jeff Baker – 2-for-5 with a walk
  • Darwin Barney – 2-for-5 with a double
  • Marlon Byrd – 2-for-8
  • Starlin Castro – 0-for-1
  • Tyler Colvin – 3-for-4 with 2 triples
  • Ryan Dempster – 1-for-4
  • Blake DeWitt – 3-for-8 with a home run and a walk
  • Kosuke Fukudome – 5-for-9 with a double and 3 walks
  • Koyie Hill – 0-for-8 with a walk
  • Reed Johnson – 1-for-3
  • Aramis Ramirez – 6-for-19 with a double, 2 home runs and 2 walks
  • Alfonso Soriano – 2-for-5
  • Geovany Soto – 0-for-5

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Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …

Quote of the Day

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." - Abraham Lincoln

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  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Tonight’s lineup:

    Castro – SS
    Barney – 2B
    Byrd – CF
    Ramirez – 3B
    Pena – 1B
    Soriano – LF
    Colvin – RF
    Soto – C
    Dempster – P

    • Calicub

      I’m surprised dewitt’s not in the line-up with his decent numbers.

      Obviously Dewitt has been strugglin, is there any chance the cubs send him to the minors to work on his swing? I can imagine not playing with any kind of regularity is doing nothing but hurtinghim

      • cubtex

        I agree. Send him down since he has an option left and put him at 2nd and let him play everyday. The Cubs are the only team I can ever recall that has a righty righty platoon at 2nd and a lefty lefty platoon in right. Bring up Scales to ride the bench and be used as a late inning pinch runner.

        • Calicub

          agreed. Scales has been down in the minors for long enough and doesn’t need to take a space away from a youngster with potential, a la Dewitt. Scales is a fan favorite and good guy and would produce more than Dewitt currently is and at more positions.

          Is it bad that i kinda wanted to koske to be out a little more than a day just so he doesn’t exhaust himself this early in the season?

        • paulcatanese

          Agreed,and Scales with his bat could get a lot of playing time in,especially if he puts a streak together. And Fukodome, if he goes on the DL can start a second spring all over again,whe he is the hottest. 12 minutes to game time

  • studio179

    Time for Demp to turn it around tonight against the Stros.

  • GaryLeeT

    Is there any evidence that the Cubs won’t break their own record (22) of fewest steals in a season?

    • Calicub

      what is it 0 for 2 in nine games?

    • paulcatanese

      I think they will if Quade keeps the same two at the top of the order, Barney protects Castro well with his ability to hit to right, the defense cannot play it either way they must play it straight up, gives Castro a slight edge there.

  • GaryLeeT

    All 347 fans at Minute Maid are very excited about tonight’s match-up.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Soriano with a nice and well needed two run double

    • Matt

      Way to come through sori!!

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Nice inning for Dempster

  • GaryLeeT

    I am rooting so hard for Colvin, but for some time now, he has had a real problem with that down & in breaking ball. Until he learns how to lay off or put a bat on it, I can see his average continuing to hover around .200

    • cubtex

      Gary, I agree 100%. I get a feeling he doesn’t like to hit with 2 strikes(who does) but he needs to shorten that swing and put the ball on the bat more often than he is. He swings at a lot of bad pitches. I hope he starts adjusting or we may have seen the best we were going to get out of Colvin in the first part of last year.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    It is amazing what a little hit and run and speed will do …

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Castro and Barney have scored all four runs … imagine that.

    • paulcatanese

      Yes Neil, Castro and Barney,,,DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS!!!!!!!

  • Serothis

    I think my man crush on castro is going to have to extend to barney, well really the pair of them because so far they’ve been nothing but impressive.

    • Serothis

      food for thought: Sam Fuld is a single away from hitting for the cycle in boston.

      • cubtex

        Matzusaka was getting shelled! Fuld might not be the only one hitting for the cycle tonight for the Rays.

        • Serothis

          True, it is a complete blow out in boston right now but still. I liked fuld. I’d prefer to see him out there than soriano or byrd…or fukededome if we move colvin to 1st.

      • Ripsnorter1

        He can’t play. That’s why Jim Hendry got rid of him.

  • Serothis

    castro and barney strike again! both got 2 out hits.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Castro with the Cubs’ first stolen base …

    • Jim_Tinley_Park

      That lack of base stealing is so lame.

  • GaryLeeT

    I am glad the Cubs appear to have this game under control. They need to have one “in the bank” for the Russell start tomorrow. He gets shelled during his relief appearances, so I don’t see how his start will go ant differently. Although, being it’s against the Astros, one would call it a best case scenario.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Excellent 13-pitch at bat by Starlin Castro … too bad he has nothing to show for it.

    • Serothis

      Even though it’s against the astros, Both castro and barney have been having an excellent night. I’m really happy to see that at the top of our lineup.

      • paulcatanese

        I am too,but wait till tommorow night when Quade puts his famous platoon system back in. That would be a shame as those two work very well together.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Another error for Aramis

  • Matt

    Pathetic inning for dumpster!

  • Tony_Hall

    Why can’t Q hear us screaming that Dempster had lost it?

    It seems to obvious with him, that it’s like someone throws a switch.

    • paulcatanese

      Tony,have said all along that when Demp loses it he loses it quickly. ACtually he lost it in the 6th and notice? Quade just went to the phone then when Demp loaded them up. The 7th was a no brainer for Quade I would have thought, but then he brings in Grabow to face three right handers. I swear, Quade gets caught up in waching the game and not what he’s supposed to be doing, like managing??

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Speechless …

  • Serothis

    well there goes that comfortable lead…..And here I though we might actually finish a game with a difference of greater than 3 runs….

  • Michael

    Seriously? After the 2nd homerun by a singles hitter, or however close it was to being out, go to the mound and take the ball from Demp. Im not a Doctor but c’mon Quade is out-thinking the room leaving Demp in there for basically back to back to back jacks and then throwing in Grabow against 3 righties…wow….its the Astros not the Yankees

  • Ripsnorter1

    Runners on base, game on the line. Time to bring in Kerry Wood so the Astros can take the lead.

    • Jerry13

      Shut up

    • Matt_gregory

      Why do you have to hate on Wood? He blew one game…give him a break! He’ll be better than most of the bullpen throughout the course of the year….I can promise you that!

  • John G

    Looks like the “good” Marmol tonight.

    • Serothis

      I think you spoke too soon….

    • John G

      I might have spoke too soon and jinxed him.

  • GaryLeeT

    I love how this team makes even win feel like a loss.

  • John G

    Whew!!!!

    • paulcatanese

      See John,like I said, Marmol gets the heart beating.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs beat the Astros 5-4 Monday night. Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney combined 5-for-8 w/ 2 BB, 3B, 5 R, RBI; Ryan Dempster’s line: 4 R, 6 H (2 HR), 3 BB, 9 Ks in 6.1 IP

  • Tom U

    Sorry to report this late, but my service went down,

    It appears that Baseball America was in error in reporting the release of Polin Trinidad. Trinidad pitched one third of an inning of relief in the I-Cubs’ game tonight.

    • Dorasaga

      thanks, Tom U. Expediate!

  • daverj

    Baker has been solid, but I like Castro/Barney at the top. Any chance Quade gives Barney a chance to play full time?

    • paulcatanese

      I would sure hope so, Baker can always go to first against leftys. And as long as Fuko is out Colvin is needed in RF,unless of course Colvin does not hit,and he should be benched along with Pena.