Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Reds – 09/05/11

Game One Hundred Forty-One: Cubs (60-80) vs. Reds (69-71)
Game Time – 1:20pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Matt Garza (7-10, 3.64/1.32) vs. Dontrelle Willis (0-4, 4.10/1.47)

Happy Labor Day from the CCO!

The Cubs open a three-game series this afternoon against Dusty Baker and the Cincinnati Reds. The Cubs have played some of their worst ball of the season against the Reds and have won just four of the 11 games (4-7). Seven of the Cubs remaining 22 games are against the defending NL Central Champs … the Cubs travel to the Queen City next Monday for a four game series (September 12 – September 15). Most consider the Reds one of the biggest disappointments in baseball after such a tremendous season a year ago.

The Cubs will face an old foe this afternoon for the first time in nearly four years. Dontrelle Willis has had mixed results in his return to the big leagues and is still looking for his first victory of the season. Look for Mike Quade to stack his lineup with as many right-handers as possible.

The Cubs continue to struggle with runners in scoring position. Over the last 13 games, the Cubs are 18-for-118 with runners in scoring position and have left 110 runners on base. The Cubs are 4-9 during that span and have been outscored 51-42.

In other news … Rain on Saturday delayed Andrew Cashner’s second rehab appearance with the I-Cubs. Cashner pitched the seventh inning on Sunday and retired all three batters he faced on 12 pitches, seven for strikes (consistently in the upper 90s with his fastball). Cashner is looking to be activated from the 60-day DL and rejoin the big league club on Wednesday.

Blake DeWitt is dealing with a hamstring issue and was not available to start on Sunday. With Darwin Barney in the middle of a bad slump, Quade was looking to get DeWitt a couple of starts … and in turn give Barney a breather. DeWitt would not have started this afternoon with the southpaw on the hill but as soon as DeWitt is healthy enough to play in the field, look for Barney to receive a couple of days off.

The Cubs are expected to announce several call-ups on Tuesday. While players like D.J. LeMahieu, John Gaub and Chris Carpenter could join the big league club soon, one player that will not make his big league debut this September is Brett Jackson. According to multiple reports, the Cubs will not call-up Brett Jackson this year.

Today it all starts with Matt Garza

Matt Garza bounced back from his poor start against the Braves and earned his seventh win of the year against the Giants. Garza appeared to have the stuff to toss his second complete game of the season but was lifted with two outs in the seventh. Garza admitted he changed his game plan in the seventh … and it was the wrong decision. The Cubs top pitcher allowed two runs on nine hits with a walk and six strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

Garza has shown improvement as the season has progressed and posted a 3-2 record in six August starts with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP. Garza posted an impressive 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio over that span (41 strikeouts, 10 walks in 36 2/3 innings). Garza has just over a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio this season (163 to 54 in 158 1/3 innings).

This afternoon will be Garza’s fourth start of the year against the Reds. Garza has dropped two and received a no decision in the third … 0-2 with a 5.06 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP.

Reds Career Numbers against Matt Garza

  • Jay Bruce – 2-for-8 with a double and a home run
  • Miguel Cairo – 1-for-3
  • Ryan Hanigan – 1-for-1 with a walk
  • Ramon Hernandez – 3-for-14 with a walk
  • Paul Janish – 1-for-6 with a double and a walk
  • Brandon Phillips – 3-for-8 with a walk
  • Edgar Renteria – 1-for-4 with a walk
  • Drew Stubbs – 2-for-10 with a home run
  • Joey Votto – 2-for-6 with 2 walks

Dontrelle Willis has had somewhat of a bounce back season under Dusty Baker. The former eighth round pick of the Chicago Cubs (2000) has thrown the ball rather well of late without a win to show for it. Willis has posted three straight quality starts but the Reds are just 3-7 in his 10 starts this season.

Willis is coming off a solid start against the Phillies in a game that the Reds lost 3-0. Willis allowed three runs on five hits with five walks and six strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings … the Reds offense could not string anything together against Cliff Lee.

Dontrelle Willis’ problems continue to be his command. In 59 1/3 innings, Willis has walked 27 batters with only 43 strikeouts. In his last six starts Willis has issued 17 walks in 36 1/3 innings (0-3 in six starts with a 4.46 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP). If the Cubs can be patient (big if), Willis will give them plenty of baserunners this afternoon.

Dontrelle Willis has been very successful in his career versus his former organization (4-3 in nine starts with a 4.25 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP, 3-1 in six starts at Wrigley with a 2.21 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP) but he has not faced a Cubs team since September 27, 2007.

Cubs Career Numbers against Dontrelle Willis

  • Jeff Baker – 2-for-3 with a home run
  • Marlon Byrd – 6-for-20 with 2 doubles, a home run and 3 walks
  • Koyie Hill – 0-for-3
  • Reed Johnson – 2-for-2 with a walk
  • Aramis Ramirez – 2-for-17 with 2 doubles and a walk
  • Alfonso Soriano – 8-for-21 with 2 doubles, a home run and 2 walks
  • Geovany Soto – 0-for-2 with a walk

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Quote of the Day

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