Game Forty-Five: Cubs (15-29) vs. Pirates (20-24)
Game Time – 6:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183/914
Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh
Ryan Dempster (0-2, 2.28/1.06) vs. A.J. Burnett (3-4, 2.24/1.33)
After a much needed day off, the Cubs return to the field tonight for the first of three against the Pirates. Pittsburgh has been quite the challenge for the Cubs in recent years (8-8 in 2011, 5-10 in 2010) and it figures to be of the same this season.
Dale Sveum will be back with the team tonight after missing Wednesday’s finale in Houston. The Cubs are struggling in just about every aspect of the game right now. The offense has scored runs in only four of the last 47 innings and it has been a long time since they played a complete game.
The Cubs offense will not get a break in this series. After tonight and facing A.J. Burnett, the Cubs will see Kevin Correia on Saturday and lefty Erik Bedard on Sunday afternoon. Sveum will counter with Paul Maholm on Saturday night with Matt Garza taking the hill in the finale on Sunday.
Reports last weekend suggested Steve Clevenger could be activated from the DL for this series. Clevenger is on a rehab stint with the Iowa Cubs. Clevenger served as the team’s DH on Tuesday and started Wednesday’s game behind the plate. Clevenger did not play Thursday and appears now to be on target to return Monday for the start of the series against the Padres at Wrigley. Carlos Marmol is also with the I-Cubs and is expected to see his first Triple-A action tonight.
Not only are the Cubs looking to get off the snide but so is Ryan Dempster. Dempster has not posted a win since August 11 (16 starts) and the Cubs are 3-13 over that span.
Updated 2:51pm CDT - Ian Stewart was in the original starting lineup for tonight’s game but was scratched due to soreness in his left wrist. According to reports, this is the same soreness he has been dealing with throughout the season. The Sun-Times is reporting that tonight’s scratch is more of a maintenance issue and not a re-injury or aggravation to the wrist.
Tonight all starts with Ryan Dempster … Ryan Dempster was very, very good over his first five starts of the season. Dempster did not allow more than two earned runs in any of his first five outings and in two of those games he did not allow an earned run. Dempster took advantage of his surroundings early, kept the ball down and threw strikes … but that has changed the last two times he’s taken the mound.
In order for Ryan Dempster to keep his team in games, he must maintain a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio. Dempster accomplished the task in his first five outings but not in his last two, Dempster has struck out eight batters and walked four in 12 innings (five strikeouts, one walk in St. Louis, three walks and three strikeouts against the Sox). If Dempster struggles with his command again tonight, the Cubs will lose for the tenth time in a row.
Dempster does not have a record in three road starts this season and has allowed only four earned runs on 16 hits with four walks and 19 strikeouts in 20 innings (1.80 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP) … and even with his recent issues (rumors have suggested that Dempster’s back has been bothering him) he is 0-1 in his last four starts with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.
Tonight marks the 25th time that Ryan Dempster has started a game against the Pirates. Dempster is 8-12 in 49 games, 24 starts, with a 5.57 WHIP. Dempster does not match up well with the Battlin’ Bucs and must bring his A-game tonight. Dempster was 2-2 in four starts versus the Pirates last season with a 5.25 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP. Dempster is 3-5 in 21 games, eight starts, at PNC Park with a 5.25 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP.
Pirates Career Numbers against Ryan Dempster
- Pedro Alvarez – 1-for-5 with a double
- Rod Barajas – 2-for-6 with a home run
- Clint Barmes – 3-for-9 with a home run and a walk
- A.J. Burnett – 0-for-2
- Josh Harrison – 2-for-5 with a double
- Garrett Jones – 3-for-23 with a double, a home run and four walks
- Andrew McCutchen – 6-for-20 with a double, a home run and four walks
- Casey McGehee – 10-for-27 with two doubles, a triple, a home run and three walks
- Michael McKenry – 2-for-5 with a double
- Jose Tabata – 2-for-10 with a triple and two walks
- Neil Walker – 7-for-15 with two doubles, a home run and two walks
A.J. Burnett missed the first three weeks of the season and other than a miserable start against the Cardinals on May 2 in which he allowed 12 runs on 12 hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings, he has been very good for Clint Hurdle.
Burnett has not lost a game since the debacle in St. Louis and the Pirates are 4-2 in his six starts (3-0 in last three). Burnett picked up his second win in his last start in Detroit. Burnett held the Tigers to two runs on seven hits with three walks and two strikeouts in six innings.
A.J. Burnett has been nails at PNC this season. In three starts he is 1-0 with a 1.57 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP.
The Cubs have never beaten A.J. Burnett. The right-hander is a perfect 4-0 in five starts with a 4.06 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. Burnett topped Ryan Dempster at Wrigley last season while wearing Yankee pinstripes.
- Starlin Castro – 2-for-3
- David DeJesus – 3-for-17 with a double and two walks
- Ryan Dempster – 0-for-2
- Koyie Hill – 0-for-3
- Reed Johnson – 0-for-3
- Alfonso Soriano – 2-for-12
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …
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