Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Cardinals – 04/13/12

Game Eight: Cubs (2-5) vs. Cardinals (5-2)
Game Time – 2:15pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WGN TV, MLB Network – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183/903
Location – Busch Stadium, St. Louis

Jeff Samardzija (1-0, 1.04/0.46) vs. Adam Wainwright (0-1, 4.76/0.88)

Updated 12:41 pm CDTFirst pitch has been pushed back for today’s game. There has not been an official announcement but it is expected to be at least an hour delay.

Weather permitting … The Chicago Cubs begin their first road trip of the season this afternoon with the Cardinals’ home opener. The trip concludes next Thursday with the finale of a three game series in Miami.

The Cubs’ new skipper gets to experience his first Cubs-Cardinals series and this one has a little more meaning.

If helping the Cardinals get into the post-season last year wasn’t bad enough, the Cubs get a first row seat this weekend as St. Louis unveils their World Series Championship banner (Friday) and the players receive their rings prior to Saturday’s game.

Dave McKay will receive his World Series ring this weekend and will actually be part of Tony LaRussa’s coaching staff at the All-Star Game. LaRussa is going to manage at least one more game after he was given permission by Major League Baseball to lead the NL squad in the Mid-Summer Classic.

The Cubs were a miserable 5-10 versus the Redbirds last season and while this version of the Cardinals is off to a good start, several of the familiar faces are no longer in Cardinals’ red. Albert Pujols, Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan are gone. Mike Matheny is now calling the shots and Lance Berkman is the Cardinals’ first baseman … but not this weekend. Berkman is expected to miss the Cubs series because of a strained left calf muscle.

As for the pitching matchups for the weekend, Chris Volstad is scheduled to face Lance Lynn on Saturday with Paul Maholm and Jake Westbrook squaring off in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.

It will be interesting to see if Dale Sveum sticks with Steve Clevenger for another day or inserts Geovany Soto in his starting lineup … and his decision could have little do to with the way Clevenger is swinging the bat right now. Jeff Samardzija praised Clevenger after his last start and talked about the chemistry the two have had coming up through the Cubs’ system.

Marlon Byrd is expected back in the lineup … and don’t be surprised if Blake DeWitt makes his first start of the season.

Today all begins with Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija is coming off a spectacular season debut against the Washington Nationals. Samardzija salvaged the final game of the series with an impressive 8 2/3 innings in his first start of the year. Samardzija held the Nationals to three runs, one earned, on four hits with no walks and eight strikeouts. If not for a throwing error by Starlin Castro on what should have been the 27th out, Samardzija would have tossed the first complete game of his career in only his sixth start.

Samardzija now has the tough task of following up his gem against a much better team. If Samardzija falters today, the doubters will surface once again.

Two of Samardzija’s six career starts have come against the Cardinals. Samardzija is 2-2 in 13 career games, two starts, versus the Redbirds with a 6.04 ERA and a 2.15 WHIP (Albert Pujols, 5-for-12 with a double, two home runs, seven RBI and three walks) … at Busch Stadium, 2-1 in five games, one start, with a 4.15 ERA and a 2.19 WHIP. Samardzija posted a 1-1 record in six games against the Cardinals last season with a 10.50 ERA and a 2.83 WHIP.

This afternoon will be a true test for Jeff Samardzija.

Cardinals Career Numbers against Jeff Samardzija

  • Carlos Beltran – 1-for-1
  • Lance Berkman – 1-for-3 with a walk
  • David Freese – 0-for-2
  • Matt Holliday – 2-for-5
  • Jon Jay – 3-for-7
  • Yadier Molina – 3-for-6 with a walk

Adam Wainwright returned to the mound against the Brewers last Saturday in his first start since missing last season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Wainwright was an out short of notching a quality start against Milwaukee. Wainwright allowed three runs on four hits with a walk and six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Wainwright appears to be back … and if he is and the Cubs do not make him work this afternoon it is going to be another frustrating day for Dale Sveum’s offense.

Wainwright was one of the best pitchers in the league before last season and figures to be again soon.

In the two seasons prior to the injury, Adam Wainwright dominated the Chicago Cubs just about every time he faced them. Wainwright is 6-4 in 23 career games, 14 starts against the Cubs with a 4.09 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP … but was 2-1 in three starts in 2010 with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP and in 2009, Wainwright was a perfect 3-0 in five starts against Lou’s crew with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP.

Cubs Career Numbers against Adam Wainwright

  • Jeff Baker – 1-for-6 with a walk
  • Darwin Barney – 3-for-5 with a double
  • Marlon Byrd – 2-for-9 with a double
  • Starlin Castro – 3-for-6
  • David DeJesus – 4-for-11 with a home run
  • Blake DeWitt – 5-for-15 with two doubles
  • Reed Johnson – 2-for-3
  • Alfonso Soriano – 5-for-28 with two doubles, a triple and five walks
  • Geovany Soto – 5-for-20 with two doubles, a home run and two walks
  • Ian Stewart – 1-for-6 with a double and a walk

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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