Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Astros – 05/21/12

Game Forty-Two: Cubs (15-26) vs. Astros (18-23)
Game Time – 7:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187/914
Location – Minute Maid Park, Houston

Matt Garza (2-1, 2.58/1.04) vs. Bud Norris (4-1, 3.58/1.21)

The Cubs start a new week tonight with the first of six game road trip through Houston and Pittsburgh. Dale Sveum’s team begins a difficult stretch with the first of three against the Astros that sees them play 16 of the next 19 on the road.

After not posting a victory since last Monday it will be up to Matt Garza to end the Cubs’ second six-game losing streak of the year. Matt Garza wants to be a number one in a big league rotation … and number ones end losing streaks.

The Cubs might have a different looking lineup tonight. Following Sunday’s loss, Dale Sveum suggested he could make changes to the top of his lineup in order to try to generate runs. Multiple reports have Starlin Castro moving out of the three-hole of a starting nine that does not have a true three-hole hitter at this point … look for Alfonso Soriano to move up in the lineup. Since May 1, Soriano is hitting .311/.373/.557/.931 with six doubles and three home runs.

The Cubs have struggled over the last two seasons with the Astros (8-7 in 15 games last season, 7-11 in 18 games in 2010), mainly due to their pitching staff and Brett Myers. Myers is no longer a starter and has moved into the closer’s role. After sending Bud Norris to the hill tonight, Brad Mills will send lefties J.A. Happ and Wandy Rodriguez to the hill on Tuesday and Wednesday. Sveum will counter with Travis Wood and Jeff Samardzija but the Cubs are just 1-6 in games started by southpaws this season.

Tonight it all starts with Matt Garza

Matt Garza showed signs of returning to form in his last outing against the Phillies. Garza admitted he was not back at full strength after missing 12 days with the flu. Garza jumped out in front of several hitters but did not seem to have the little extra needed. Garza struck out a season low two batters while running up his pitch count. Garza ended up with a no decision after allowed two runs on eight hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings to Philadelphia.

In his last two starts, a visibly depleted Matt Garza has still only allowed three runs on 11 hits in 11 2/3 innings with six walks and five strikeouts (2.31 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP). Garza casually mentioned the only thing positive from his last outing was that he walked only one batter.

For as good as Garza has been this season, he’s struggled on the road. Garza is 1-1 in three starts outside of Wrigley with a 3.71 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP and will face a very hungry, young Astros lineup tonight.

Matt Garza has never beaten Houston and owns a 0-2 record in four starts that includes a complete game (3.00 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP) … last season, no record in two starts with a 2.81 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. Garza is 0-1 in his only career start at Minute Maid with a 2.25 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP.

Astros Career Numbers against Matt Garza

  • Jose Altuve – 0-for-3
  • Brian Bogusevic – 1-for-4
  • Travis Buck – 1-for-2 with a home run and a walk
  • Matt Downs – 0-for-3
  • Chris Johnson – 0-for-2 with a walk
  • Carlos Lee – 4-for-13 with two doubles, two home runs and a walk
  • Jed Lowrie – 0-for-6
  • J.D. Martinez – 1-for-4
  • Jordan Schafer – 1-for-4

Bud Norris has been very, very good for Houston this season. Norris has won his last three starts and the Astros are 7-1 in his eight games this season. Norris is coming off an excellent seven inning start against the Brewers in which he allowed one run on four hits with only two walks while striking out a season-high nine batters.

Bud Norris is 3-0 in his last three starts with a 0.47 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP.

Like many young pitchers in the NL Central, Bud Norris has had some of his better outings against the Cubs in his short career. Norris is 2-2 in five games, four starts, with a 2.39 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP … last season, 1-1 in two starts with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP.

Cubs Career Numbers against Bud Norris

  • Jeff Baker – 1-for-5 with a double
  • Welington Castillo – 1-for-3 with a double
  • Starlin Castro – 2-for-8
  • Koyie Hill – 1-for-4
  • Alfonso Soriano – 3-for-7 with a double, a home run and two walks

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …

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Quote of the Day

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