Game One Hundred Twenty-One: Cubs (52-68) vs. Braves (70-50)
Game Time – 12:35pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 184
Location – Turner Field, Atlanta
Matt Garza (5-9, 3.81/1.30) vs. Brandon Beachy (5-2, 3.43/1.19)
After an extremely hectic and dramatic 36 hours, maybe the Cubs will be able to just play and win a ballgame this afternoon. The Cubs have won 10 of 13 and are 15-13 since the All-Star break.
It is Sunday and the Cubs are in position to win a series. The Cubs struggles on Sundays this season have been well documented. After winning two Sunday games in a row, the Cubs dropped the finale with the Reds last Sunday and are 4-14 on Sundays this season. If the Cubs can find a way to beat the Braves this afternoon, not only would they post a series win in Atlanta for the first time since 2008, the Cubs would also win their fourth straight series for the first time since 2008.
In other news … According to a report from Bruce Levine, Andrew Cashner faced hitters for the first time since mid May on Saturday. Cashner threw 23 warm-up pitches before tossing 21 pitches to Tyler Colvin, Koyie Hill and Blake DeWitt. Casher is scheduled to throw to hitters again on Tuesday (30-35 pitches) while the Cubs are in Houston. If Cashner is able to return this season he will pitch out of the pen.
The Cubs are expected to recall Casey Coleman from Triple-A Iowa to make the start in the finale in Houston (Wednesday). The Cubs could make a move in the short-term to add a bat to the bench before having to call-up Coleman to take Carlos Zambrano’s spot in the rotation.
Today it all starts with Matt Garza … The Cubs best starting pitcher will take the hill this afternoon in hopes of receiving some run support. Matt Garza has kept up his end of the deal for the most part this season and is coming off another loss after technically putting together a quality start.
Garza allowed three runs on six hits (two home runs) in six innings to the Nationals. Garza walked two and struck out nine and for the second start in a row the only run the Cubs scored came off the bat of Starlin Castro (two solo homers, one against the Pirates).
For as good as Garza has been he’s struggled on the road to the tune of a 2-5 record in 10 starts with a 5.20 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP.
Matt Garza is 1-2 in his last six starts with a 2.72 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP … 39 strikeouts, 15 walks and four homers (two in his last outing) in his last 39 2/3 innings.
This afternoon will be Matt Garza’s first career start and appearance against the Atlanta Braves.
Michael Bourn (4-for-11), Alex Gonzalez (2-for-9 with a double and a walk), Eric Hinske (2-for-7 with a walk), Julio Lugo (1-for-11 with a walk) and Dan Uggla (3-for-9 with a walk) are the only players on the Braves’ active roster that has faced Matt Garza.
The Cubs will get their first look at another one of the excellent young arms in the Braves system. Brandon Beachy received a cup of coffee with the Braves last season (0-2 in three starts with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP) and has put together a very good rookie campaign (5-2 in 17 starts with a 3.43 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP).
Baseball America ranked Brandon Beachy as the eighth best prospect in the Braves’ system prior to this season … and he’s not disappointed.
Beachy is coming off a no decision against the Marlins (two runs on three hits with three walks and 10 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings) but the Braves won the game and has won his last three starts. Beachy is 2-1 in his last five starts with a 3.94 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP.
The Cubs’ game plan should be to make Beachy work early to see what he’s got … but this is the Chicago Cubs and they will make it easy on the strike-thrower this afternoon.
No one on the Cubs roster has ever faced Brandon Beachy in a big league game.
Follow the CCO on Twitter: @TheCCO
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …