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

Game One Hundred Eighteen: Cubs (50-67) vs. Nationals (56-60)
Game Time – 1:20pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Ryan Dempster (9-8, 4.87/1.43) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (7-9, 3.12/1.10)

The Cubs six-game homestand (3-2 in first five games) comes to an end with the finale against the Nationals. Today was scheduled to be a day off for the Cubs but rain forced Monday’s game to be postponed until this afternoon.

Q’s Cubs have already lost the season series to the Nationals (2-4) but are 13-12 since the break … and have won eight of 10. A win this afternoon would also give Q’s squad their first three-series winning streak of the season.

The Cubs have been hitting a lot of longballs of late. Eleven different players have hit 19 homers over the last eight games. Q’s offense continued hitting balls out of the park on Wednesday night. The Cubs have hit at least one homer is each of the last eight games … the last time a Cubs’ team hit homers in nine consecutive games was from July 27 – August 4, 2009.

Mike Quade has been looking for a way to give Starlin Castro a day off … and he might have found a way after Castro’s performance on Wednesday. Castro extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a first-inning single on Wednesday … but he swung at balls in the dirt in every at bat after the first and ended up striking out three times.

A day game after a night game should get Geovany Soto a day off … with Koyie Hill behind the plate for Ryan Dempster. Hill has served as Dempster’s battery-mate the last two times Dempster has started.

Today it all starts with Ryan Dempster

Ryan Dempster is coming off a serviceable start against the Reds and picked up his second win in a row. Dempster held the free-swinging Redlegs to two runs on four hits with five strikeouts in six innings. Dempster tied a season-high with six walks but made the big pitch when he needed to get out of a jam.

Dempster has pitched a little better since the break but has been far from consistent this season. Dempster is 3-2 in his last five starts with a 4.34 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP.

Today will be Dempster’s 14th start of the season at Wrigley … 5-5 in 13 starts with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP.

Ryan Dempster missed the Nationals last month in D.C. and is 8-1 in 22 career games, 14 starts, versus the Expos-Nationals organization with a 2.97 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP.

Nationals Career Numbers against Ryan Dempster

  • Rick Ankiel – 2-for-13
  • Alex Cora – 2-for-9 with a double and a walk
  • Ian Desmond – 0-for-5 with a walk
  • Jonny Gomes – 1-for-7 with a double and 2 walks
  • Michael Morse – 0-for-2
  • Laynce Nix – 0-for-3
  • Jayson Werth – 2-for-9 with 2 doubles and 2 walks
  • Ryan Zimmerman – 5-for-13 with a walk

The Nationals ‘other’ Zimmermann has a very bright future ahead of him. Jordan Zimmermann is coming off a solid start in Colorado in which he allowed two runs on four hits with two walks and eight strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Outside of a couple of poor outings in the middle of July, Zimmermann has put up a lot of zeroes since June 24.

Zimmermann is 1-2 in his last four starts with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP.

The 25-year old right-hander has pitched much better on the road (4-4 in 12 starts with a 2.82 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP) than at home this season (3-5 in 10 starts with a 3.50 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP).

Jordan Zimmermann is 0-1 in two career starts against the Cubs with a 6.35 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP … today will be his first outing at Wrigley Field.

Darwin Barney (0-for-3), Marlon Byrd (1-for-2 with a walk), Starlin Castro (0-for-3), Koyie Hill (1-for-2 with a double), Carlos Pena (4-for-5 with a triple and a home run), Aramis Ramirez (3-for-6 with a double), Alfonso Soriano (2-for-6 with a home run) and Geovany Soto (1-for-3) all have limited at bats against Jordan Zimmermann.

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Quote of the Day

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