Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Astros – 08/15/11

Game One Hundred Twenty-Two: Cubs (53-68) vs. Astros (38-83)
Game Time – 7:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Minute Maid Park, Houston

Rodrigo Lopez (3-3, 4.78/1.42) vs. Henry Sosa (0-1, 6.00/1.50)

Updated 4:45pm CDT – Cubs Recalled Scott Maine from Triple-A Iowa on MondayCasey Coleman expected to be recalled prior to Wednesday’s finale against the Astros – Cubs will make another roster move at that time.

The Cubs open their final series of the season in Houston tonight against the new-look Astros. The Astros have already lost 83 games and guaranteed themselves a losing season but a lot as changed for Brad Mills’ team since the last time the Cubs played them at Wrigley at the end of July (July 22 – July 24). Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn are now in the NL East and both Brett Wallace and Chris Johnson were optioned to Triple-A. The Astros still have Brett Myers and Bud Norris (the Cubs will face Myers on Tuesday and Norris on Wednesday) as well as Jose Altuve and Carlos Lee.

The Cubs will face a lot of unknown over the next three days, beginning with tonight’s starter Henry Sosa. Sosa is making just his second big league start and his first in his new home ballpark.

The Cubs and Astros have six head-to-head match-ups left on the 2011 schedule, counting this series. After the finale on Wednesday afternoon in Houston, the two teams will square off at Wrigley for the last three times in 2011 in last September … Q’s squad is 5-4 against Houston this season.

Midnight Eastern (11:00pm CDT) is the deadline for signing all draft picks from this past June’s Amateur Draft … and the Players Association is expected to file a grievance today with the Cubs over their decision to place Carlos Zambrano on the disqualified list without pay for the next 30 days … so Jim Hendry should have more than a full first day of the week.

The Cubs have won 11 of 14 and are 16-13 since the All-Star break (10-3 in August) … and tonight it all starts with Rodrigo Lopez.

Rodrigo Lopez is coming off a solid start against the Nationals in which he allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits without a walk and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Lopez put together another serviceable start at Wrigley (3-1 in nine game, five starts, with a 3.34 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP at home). With Carlos Zambrano likely done for the season coupled with the lack of starting pitching in the system, Lopez should finish the year in the Cubs rotation.

Lopez has struggled mightily on the road (0-2 in nine games, three starts, with a 7.08 ERA and a 1.77 WHIP) and is 1-0 in his last two starts with a 6.52 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP.

Tonight will be Lopez’s third appearance and second start against the Astros this season. Houston has hit Lopez pretty hard this year (six runs on 10 hits without a walk, five strikeouts and two home runs in 5 1/3 innings). Lopez is 1-2 in six career appearances, five starts, with a 5.34 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP … at Minute Maid, 0-1 in two starts with a 6.55 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP.

Astros Career Numbers against Rodrigo Lopez

  • Clint Barmes – 2-for-8 with a home run and 2 walks
  • Matt Downs – 0-for-1
  • Carlos Lee – 4-for-22 with a double and 3 walks
  • Jason Michaels – 1-for-6
  • Humberto Quintero – 0-for-2
  • Angel Sanchez – 1-for-2 with a triple and a walk

Henry Sosa will make just his second big league start tonight … and his first in Houston. Sosa gave up four runs on six hits in his debut on August 10 in Arizona. Sosa completed six innings, walked three and struck out four.

The Giants signed the 26-year old right-hander as a free agent in 2004 and Houston acquired Sosa in the deal that sent Jeff Keppinger to San Francisco on July 19.

Sosa pitched at both the Double-A and Triple-A levels in the Giants system prior to the trade and started just one game at Houston’s Triple-A team (Oklahoma City) before getting the call to the show.

Henry Sosa has compiled a 10-3 record in 29 games, 10 starts, this season with a 4.53 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP in his four different uniforms.

Baseball America listed Henry Sosa as the 29th best prospect in the Giants system prior to the season.

For the second straight game the Cubs will face a starting pitcher for the first time.

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