Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Nationals – 08/09/11

Game One Hundred Sixteen: Cubs (49-66) vs. Nationals (55-59)
Game Time – 7:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Matt Garza (5-8, 3.78/1.30) vs. Chien-Ming Wang (0-2, 6.00/1.89)

After receiving an unexpected night off, the Cubs return to the field tonight for the first of three against the Washington Nationals.

Mike Quade and Davey Johnson decided to stay with their scheduled pitchers for this series. After tonight’s match-up of Matt Garza and Chien-Ming Wang, Rodrigo Lopez will face Ross Detwiler on Wednesday night with Ryan Dempster and Jordan Zimmermann pitching the finale on Thursday afternoon.

Starlin Castro was named NL Player of the Week (August 1 – August 7) on Monday. Castro put together a .515/.543/.758/1.300 line in seven games with two doubles and two home runs.

Starlin Castro is riding an impressive eight game hitting streak … as well as a nine game streak of scoring at least one run. Castro is the first Cub to accomplish a nine-game scoring streak since Derrek Lee (September 7 – September 16, 2009). The last player to score in 10 straight games was Mark DeRosa back in 2008 (May 9 – May 19).

Monday was the 23rd Anniversary of the first scheduled night game at Wrigley that was of course postponed … tonight is the 23rd Anniversary of the first full night game at the old ballpark. The Don Zimmer led Chicago Cubs beat Davey Johnson and New York Mets that night 6-4. Frank DiPino got the win and Goose Gossage picked up the save.

Tonight it all starts with Matt Garza

The Cubs have shown improvement of late. After winning 10 of 16 against NL Central opponents, the Cubs are 12-11 since the break and have crept to within four games of .500 at home (27-31).

Matt Garza is coming off his first win in over month and is in the middle of an excellent stretch. Garza shutout the Pirates over seven-plus innings and he allowed just four hits while walking two and striking out three. Garza is a very solid 1-1 in his last five starts with a 2.41 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP.

Garza, unlike his rotation mates, has put together a good season in his home ballpark. Tonight will be Garza’s 12th start of the year at Wrigley and he is 3-3 in 11 starts with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP.

The last time Garza started a game against the Nationals he was pulled in the third inning with one of the shortest starts of his career. The Nationals pounded Garza in third in his last start before the break. The Cubs came back and won the game after Garza allowed seven runs, six earned, with a walk and four strikeouts in two-plus innings.

Tonight will be Garza’s third career start against the Nationals … no record in two starts with a 10.57 ERA and a 2.61 WHIP.

Nationals Career Numbers against Matt Garza

  • Rick Ankiel – 0-for-2
  • Alex Cora – 0-for-3
  • Ian Desmond – 0-for-1
  • Danny Espinosa – 2-for-2
  • Jonny Gomes – 2-for-5 with a double
  • Michael Morse – 1-for-2
  • Wilson Ramos – 1-for-2 with a double
  • Jayson Werth – 2-for-5 with a home run
  • Ryan Zimmerman – 2-for-4 with a walk

Chien-Ming Wang will make just his third start of the season tonight after spending a majority of the last three seasons on the DL. Wang is coming off a decent start against the Braves in which he allowed six runs, two earned, on seven hits with a walk. Wang did not record a strikeout.

The Cubs must be patient against Chien-Ming Wang tonight and make him work.

Tonight will be Wang’s second career start against the Cubs and his first at Wrigley Field.

Chien-Ming Wang dominated the Dusty Baker-led Cubs back on June 18, 2005 at Yankee Stadium. Wang held the Cubs to one run on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts in eight innings. The Cubs only run came via a longball off the bat of Jason Dubois. Aramis Ramirez is the only remaining Cub that was in the starting lineup more than six years ago.

Marlon Byrd (1-for-4 with a double), Reed Johnson (2-for-8 with a walk), Carlos Pena (6-for-16 with three double, a home run and a walk), Aramis Ramirez (1-for-3) and Alfonso Soriano (1-for-3 with a walk) are the only active Cubs with at bats against Chien-Ming Wang.

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Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver