Game Fifty-Eight: Cubs (19-38) vs. Twins (22-34)
Game Time – 7:10pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 179/914
Location – Target Field, Minneapolis
Travis Wood (0-2, 4.56/1.06) vs. P.J. Walters (2-1, 3.69/1.36)
Dale Sveum and the Chicago Cubs begin a stretch of 12 straight against the Junior Circuit tonight with the first of three against the Twins. The Cubs are 0-3 in Interleague play this season and will host Detroit starting on Tuesday night for three games. The Red Sox make the trip to the North Side of Chicago for three games starting next Friday and the Cubs finish their Interleague schedule with three on the South Side (June 18 – June 20).
The last time the Cubs faced the Twins was in 2009 at Wrigley Field. The Twins took two of three in the weekend series that is most remembered for Milton Bradley throwing a ball into the right field bleachers.
Dale Sveum announced Thursday that Alfonso Soriano will serve as the Cubs’ DH during the three games against the Twins and possibly all six games in American League parks. Soriano has a .364/.391/.682/1.073 slash line in 19 career games (44 at bats) as a designated hitter with three doubles, a triple and three home runs.
Maybe adding a position player to the lineup will help the Cubs offense. The Cubs are 15-11 when they score four or more runs this season … just 4-27 when they score three runs or less.
In other news … Welington Castillo has reported to the Tennessee Smokies and is expected to begin a rehab assignment tonight. Geovany Soto was also expected to begin a rehab assignment today. Soto has not been cleared to play yet and is still too sore to catch. Soto is back with the team and will be in Minnesota this weekend. Reports early Thursday indicated that both Castillo and Geovany Soto would have their rehab stints pushed back. Once he is ready, Welington Castillo is expected to report to the Iowa Cubs so he can play every day.
Tonight it all begins with Travis Wood … Travis Wood is coming off his best start in a Cubs uniform and if his defense could have caught the ball he might have picked up a win. Wood did not allow a hit to the Giants until the fifth inning and ended up allowing one run on three hits with two walks, a hit batsman and seven strikeouts in seven innings. Wood was hung with the loss because the Cubs could not plate a run against Barry Zito.
The Cubs need a similar outing from Travis Wood tonight.
Travis Wood has never faced the Minnesota Twins and is a very good 0-2 in two road starts this season with a 2.13 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP. Outside of Wrigley, Wood has struck out 10 batters in 12 2/3 innings with four free passes.
Jamey Carroll (0-for-5 with a walk) is the only Twin on the active roster that has faced Travis Wood.
The Cubs will see a somewhat familiar face tonight in Minnesota. P.J. Walters began his career with the St. Louis Cardinals and was dealt to the Blue Jays prior to the deadline last July with Trever Miller, Colby Rasmus and Brian Tallet for Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson, Corey Patterson and Marc Rzepczynski. Toronto granted Walters free agency in September and he signed with the Twins in December.
Walters was very good in his first four starts of the year (2-1 with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP) but struggled his last time out. Cleveland put up four runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings and for the third time, Walters walked more batters than he struck out.
P.J. Walters does not have a decision in four career games, one start, against the Cubs. In 9 2/3 innings, Walters has allowed four runs on eight hits with three walks and 12 strikeouts. The Cubs were very aggressive in the past against Walters, they must make him work tonight.
Koyie Hill (0-for-1), Reed Johnson (2-for-3) and Alfonso Soriano (0-for-4) are the only Cubs on the active roster that has faced P.J. Walters.
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