Game Seventy-Five: Cubs (30-44) vs. Royals (31-44)
Game Time – 7:10pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City
Ryan Dempster (5-6, 5.46/1.48) vs. Bruce Chen (4-1, 3.59/1.34)
After spending their last off day before the All-Star break traveling to Kansas City, the Cubs get back on the field tonight and begin a stretch of 18 games in 17 days leading up to the break on July 11.
The Cubs are struggling in just about every aspect of the game right now and enter play tonight 14 games under .500, the lowest mark of the season for Q’s squad.
Mike Quade shifted his rotation for the Cubs first series in Kansas City since 2000. Carlos Zambrano will stay on regular rest and will match-up against Danny Duffy on Saturday. Randy Wells was pushed back a day and will face Luke Hochevar in the finale Sunday afternoon. Quade announced Matt Garza will start the makeup game against the Rockies on Monday and Doug Davis will start one of the two games on Tuesday … Quade is not sure who will start the second game, one possibility is Rodrigo Lopez or the Cubs could call-up Casey Coleman to make the start.
Ned Yost is running out two lefties to begin the series. After Bruce Chen tonight, the Cubs will face one of the Royals top pitching prospects Saturday in rookie left-hander Danny Duffy. Quade will run out his right-handed lineup so expect to see a lot of Reed Johnson, Jeff Baker, D.J. LeMahieu and Luis Montanez over the next two games.
In other news … Darwin Barney is expected to begin a rehab stint with the Iowa Cubs on Saturday. If all goes as planned Barney could rejoin the big league club as early as June 29. Marlon Byrd will join Barney in Iowa on Monday and begin an expected weeklong rehab assignment in Triple-A. Byrd is hoping to return to the lineup on July 4 against the Nationals.
Two of the worst teams in baseball, record wise, will square off for the next three days. While the Royals future is looking bright, the Cubs seems to be going in the opposite direction. Tonight it all begins with Ryan Dempster … Ryan Dempster is coming off another poor outing in which his team needed him to step up and lead them to a victory. Dempster labored through 5 1/3 innings last Saturday against the Yankees and took the loss after allowing three runs on eight hits with six strikeouts and a season-high (or low) six walks. The Cubs lost the game 4-3 and a win that afternoon would have been the Cubs third in a row … and would have gotten them a series win against the Bronx Bombers. Since last Friday, the Cubs are 2-4 and back to 14 below the respectable mark.
Ryan Dempster has struggled mightily on the road this season … 2-2 in seven starts with a 7.53 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP, teams are hitting .304 against Dempster outside of Wrigley. It is past time for Dempster to put together a string of successful starts after an extremely inconsistent first three months of the season.
Dempster is 1-2 in his last four starts with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP.
Tonight will be Dempster’s second career start versus the Royals … 1-0 in one start with a 6.00 ERA and a 1.83 WHIP (four runs on six hits with five walks and a strikeout in six innings). Dempster’s only appearance against the Royals came back on June 12, 2002 while he was a member of the Florida Marlins’ rotation.
Royals Career Numbers against Ryan Dempster
- Wilson Betemit – 0-for-3
- Melky Cabrera – 1-for-6
- Bruce Chen – 0-for-2
- Alcides Escobar – 2-for-11 with a walk
- Jeff Francoeur – 5-for-12 with 3 doubles
- Chris Getz – 2-for-7 with a triple and a walk
Bruce Chen will be activated from the 15-day DL prior to tonight’s game and make his first big league start since May 5. Chen has been on the shelf with a strained left lat. Chen completed three minor league rehab starts and should be able to throw at least 100 pitches tonight.
The veteran southpaw was off to a good start and beat the Orioles back on May 5, 9-1. Chen held Baltimore to one run on five hits in seven innings with two walks and five strikeouts.
Bruce Chen has not lost at home this season and is 3-0 in five starts with a 3.06 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP.
Chen is 1-1 in 11 career games, four starts, versus the Cubs with a 4.85 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP. The last time Chen faced a Cubs’ team during the regular season was back in 2002 as a member of the New York Mets (1-0 in five relief appearances with a 1.13 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP).
Cubs Career Numbers against Bruce Chen
- Ryan Dempster – 0-for-2
- Reed Johnson – 1-for-16 with 2 walks
- Carlos Pena – 1-for-6 with a home run and a walk
- Aramis Ramirez – 6-for-10 with 3 doubles and a walk
- Alfonso Soriano – 3-for-13with a home run and 2 walks
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