Game Twenty-Eight: Cubs (12-15) vs. Dodgers (14-15)
Game Time – 9:10pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 189
Location – Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles
James Russell (1-3, 8.31/1.92) vs. Clayton Kershaw (2-3, 3.52/1.25)
The Cubs seven-game road trip continues tonight with the first of three in Chavez Ravine. Q’s squad completed a disappointing four-game split against the D’Backs and are 2-2 on their current trip … but beginning with tonight’s game the Cubs schedule becomes a lot more difficult.
Following the three game series in Los Angeles, the Cubs return to Wrigley for a ten-day, nine-game homestand that includes three-game series with the Reds, Cardinals and Giants. The Cubs then depart on May 18 on a three-city, seven-game road trip to Cincinnati, Miami and Boston. If the Cubs don’t step it up, they will be behind the eight ball by May 23.
The Cubs have a tall task ahead of them tonight. With the decision makers opting for another ‘Bullpen Day‘ and Don Mattingly sending Clayton Kershaw to the hill, the Cubs will have to play mistake free ball tonight in order to avoid losing game one at Dodger Stadium.
The Cubs have struggled with the Dodgers since the NLDS in 2008 and dropped two of three to L.A. at Wrigley 10 days ago. Mike Quade will send James Russell, Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano to the hill and the offense will have to deal with Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly. Following Wednesday’s game, the Cubs will not see the Dodgers again during the 2011 campaign.
Mike Quade really needs for James Russell not to pitch to expectations tonight or it could be three bullpen days in a row for the Chicago Cubs. It all begins with James Russell … James Russell will make his fourth start of the season for some unknown reason. The Cubs say Russell is the best option to fill in for Andrew Cashner right now but with the lack of innings that Russell can provide coupled with Ryan Dempster’s horrible start to the season continuing to throw Russell out to start games is a terrible idea. It is one thing to throw a questionable starter but it is another to continue to put a situational lefty in a position to fail.
James Russell is a miserable 0-3 as a starting pitcher with an 11.17 ERA and a 2.38 WHIP … teams are hitting .404 against him in a starter’s role. And this is the best option the Cubs have right now?
Tonight will be James Russell’s first start against the Dodgers. Russell did not face Los Angeles during the series at Wrigley. In four career appearances (all in relief) against the Dodgers, Russell does not have a record and has allowed one run, earned, on two hits in 5 1/3 innings without a walk and four strikeouts (1.69 ERA and a 0.38 WHIP).
Andre Ethier (0-for-1), Tony Gwynn, Jr. (0-for-1), Matt Kemp (0-for-1), James Loney (0-for-2) and Aaron Miles (1-for-2) are the only active Dodgers that have faced James Russell.
Russell and the pen will have the task of ending Andre Ethier’s hitting streak, which the right fielder extended to 27 games Sunday afternoon.
The Cubs struggling offense will get their first look of the season at Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw is one of the best young southpaws in the majors but is coming off a loss to the Marlins.
Florida knocked Kershaw out of the game with one out in the sixth after scoring four runs on six hits. Kershaw walked two and struck out five. Kershaw has the ability to dominate lineups much better than the one Mike Quade runs out. So for the Cubs to post a win tonight they will have to take advantage of every opportunity Kershaw gives them.
For as good as Kershaw has been (41 strikeouts to 15 walks in 38 1/3 innings) he’s was inconsistent in the first month of the season.
Tonight will be Clayton Kershaw’s third career start against the Cubs … and to say he’s shut down the Cubs’ offense would be an understatement (1-1 in two starts with a 1.29 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP … 16 strikeouts, two walks, two earned runs and 11 hits in 14 innings).
Cubs Career Numbers against Clayton Kershaw
- Jeff Baker – 4-for-11 with a double, a home run and a walk
- Marlon Byrd – 5-for-6
- Starlin Castro – 0-for-6
- Aramis Ramirez – 1-for-3 with a double
- Alfonso Soriano – 1-for-5 with a home run and a walk
- Geovany Soto – 1-for-5
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