Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Rockies – 04/15/11

Game Thirteen: Cubs (6-6) vs. Rockies (10-2)
Game Time – 7:40pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WCIU – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Coors Field, Denver

Matt Garza (0-1, 5.68/1.82) vs. Jhoulys Chacin (2-0, 2.77/1.23)

It is Jackie Robinson Day throughout Major League Baseball. Thank you #42 …

Q’s squad returns to the field after spending their second off day of season in Denver. The Cubs enter play tonight 6-6 on the young season and 3-3 on their current nine-game road trip. Starting with this series against the Rockies, the Cubs schedule gets a lot more difficult.

The Cubs have series against the Padres, Dodgers (twice), Rockies (again), Diamondback, Reds (twice), Cardinals, Giants and Marlins before Interleague play begins in Boston on May 20. The first hurdle is figuring out how to beat the Rockies in Colorado.

The Cubs were 2-3 against the Rockies last season and 2-4 versus Troy Tulowitzki and company in 2009. But the Cubs are just 1-6 in their last seven in Denver. Plus two different players have hit for the cycle the last two times the Cubs visited Coors … Troy Tulowitzki in 2009 and Carlos Gonzalez last season.

Right now the Rockies are the best team in the National League. Troy Tulowitzki is hitting the cover off the ball (four home runs in four games in New York) and the Rockies won all four at Citi Field that included a doubleheader Thursday. Tulowitzki is off the charts at the plate. Dating back to last season, Tulowitzki has hit 22 home runs in his last 38 games.

Kosuke Fukudome could return to the lineup tonight. Fukudome has been out with a mild strain of his hamstring that he suffered last Sunday in Milwaukee. Quade also mentioned Wednesday that Koyie Hill would get a start in one of the first two games in Denver.

As for the rest of the lineup, Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney should hit one, two again tonight even if Fukudome is able to play. Quade said he’s liked what he’s seen out of the duo at the top of the lineup. Castro and Barney are getting on base; it’s time for the big boys to start driving them in.

Carlos Pena is still nursing a sore thumb but is expected back in tonight’s lineup.

While the offense must improve on the hitting with runners in scoring position, it all starts with Matt Garza

20 strikeouts and 20 hits in two starts, that is the way Matt Garza’s Cubs career has begun. Matt Garza put together one of the three quality starts for the Cubs staff in his first outing. Garza gave up 12 hits, all singles, but struck out 12 and did not walk a batter. Garza received a no decision after leaving in the seventh with a lead.

In his last start against the Brewers, Prince Fielder and company teed off on Garza and scored five runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. Garza walked three (one intentional) but could not make the big pitch when he needed it.

In 12 2/3 innings this season, Garza has allowed eight runs, all earned, on 20 hits with three walks and 20 strikeouts.

Matt Garza needs a consistent outing tonight that results in a win.

Garza has faced the Rockies once in his career … and it was in Colorado on June 18, 2009. The Rockies’ offense scored four runs on five hits in five innings (two walks, five strikeouts) against Garza.

Rockies Career Numbers against Matt Garza

  • Jason Giambi – 1-for-9 with 4 walks
  • Carlos Gonzalez – 1-for-2 with a home run
  • Todd Helton – 1-for-2 with a home run
  • Jose Lopez – 6-for-18 with a double and a triple
  • Seth Smith – 0-for-3
  • Ian Stewart – 0-for-2
  • Troy Tulowitzki – 0-for-2
  • Ty Wigginton – 4-for-16 with a double and a home run

Jhoulys Chacin is one of the many reasons the Rockies have the best record in the National League. Chacin was lights out in his first start against the Dodgers (seven innings of shutout ball, five hits allowed with two walks and four strikeouts) but came down to earth against the Pirates (five runs, four earned, on seven hits in six innings with two walks and three strikeouts).

The 23-year old right-hander is coming off a solid 2010 campaign (9-11 in 28 games, 21 starts, with a 3.28 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP) and is off to a very good start to what could be his first full year at the big league level.

Chacin was much better outside of Coors last season. He was 5-5 in 15 home games, 12 starts, with a 3.98 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP (4-6 in 13 road games, nine starts, with a 2.44 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP) … but after one start at Coors this year, Chacin has not allowed a run.

Tonight will be Chacin’s second career start against the Cubs … 0-1 in two games, one start, with a 4.70 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP (four runs on six hits with five walks and 10 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings). Lou’s crew beat Chacin at Wrigley last May 18 … three runs on five hits with five walks and six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Cubs Career Numbers against Jhoulys Chacin

  • Marlon Byrd – 1-for-2 with a walk
  • Starlin Castro – 0-for-3
  • Tyler Colvin – 2-for-3
  • Blake DeWitt – 0-for-6
  • Kosuke Fukudome – 2-for-3 with a home run and a walk
  • Reed Johnson – 2-for-6 with a double
  • Aramis Ramirez – 0-for-2 with a walk
  • Alfonso Soriano – 0-for-1
  • Geovany Soto – 0-for-2 with 2 walks

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Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne