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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