Game Sixty-Five: Cubs (22-42) vs. Red Sox (31-33)
Game Time – 6:15pm CDT
Coverage – TV: FOX Saturday Night Baseball – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 177/914
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Jeff Samardzija (5-4, 3.96/1.35) vs. Jon Lester (3-4, 4.57/1.36)
In order for the Cubs to post their second victory in as many days as well as their first series win since sweeping the Padres (May 28-May 30), Dale Sveum’s team will have to accomplish a rare feat this season … winning a game started by a left-handed pitcher. The Cubs are just 3-13 in games started by lefties this year and they will face one of the best in the American League tonight in Jon Lester.
The Red Sox will get their first look at Jeff Samardzija as a starter. Boston had their way with Samardzija a year ago but he’s a different pitcher now … and one that is in need of a good outing. Some think Samardzija’s last two outings tell more about Samardzija than his previous 10. The Cubs pushed Samardzija back a day and it is easy to say, tonight is a big outing for Jeff Samardzija.
The Red Sox announced a pitching change for Sunday night’s finale. Josh Beckett was scratched due to shoulder soreness and lefty Franklin Morales will take the hill instead.
In other news … Carlos Marmol is the Cubs’ closer again, at least for now. Marmol was shaky in the ninth inning Friday but said he felt more comfortable late in the inning … right around the time he and Dale Sveum had their little “chat”.
The Cubs are toying with the idea of keeping Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo with the team when Geovany Soto is ready to return … likely Monday’s opener on the South Side. The thought is if they keep three catchers on the active roster that would allow Sveum to play Clevenger at first base.
Tonight it all starts with Jeff Samardzija … Jeff Samardzija is coming off a horrible outing against the Twins and one Dale Sveum and the coaching staff saw coming. Samardzija struggled with his release point, repeating his delivery and command of his secondary pitches, specifically his splitter. Sveum said Samardzija has also fallen in love with his fastball again, which has gotten him in trouble.
Samardzija is in need of a good outing tonight. After posting a 3-2 record in six starts in May with a 2.48 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP, Samardzija is 0-1 in his last two outings with a 10.38 ERA and a 2.54 WHIP … teams are hitting .390 against him and Samardzija has walked (6) almost as many has he’s struck out (7) over his last two starts (8 2/3 innings).
Like the rest of his teammates, Jeff Samardzija has performed rather well at Wrigley this season (3-1 in five starts with a 1.96 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP) and will make just his second start at home tonight since May 23.
Jeff Samardzija has faced the Red Sox once in his career. The Sox lit up Samardzija at Fenway last May (five runs, three earned, on four hits with two walks and a strikeout in one inning).
Adrian Gonzalez (1-for-1), David Ortiz (1-for-1 with a double), Dustin Pedroia (0-for-1), Nick Punto (1-for-1 with a walk), Jarrod Saltalamacchia (one walk) and Kevin Youkilis (0-for-2) have limited at bats in their career against Jeff Samardzija.
Jon Lester has struggled this season and has not done much to put last September (1-3 in six starts with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP) behind him. The very talented southpaw was 1-2 in his first five starts with a 4.65 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP then posted a 2-2 in his next six outings with a 4.91 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP while teams hit .293 against him. Lester has been a little better of late (0-0 in two starts with a 3.46 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP) and makes his first road start tonight since May 19 (2-2 in six road starts with a 3.15 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP).
Jon Lester gave up three runs on six hits over seven innings in his last start to the Nationals. Lester struck out nine and over his last 13 innings, Lester has struck out 14 and walked only three.
Jon Lester beat the Cubs last year but it was not pretty (five runs on 12 hits with two walks and five strikeouts in six innings) and tonight will be Lester’s first appearance at Wrigley Field.
Right-handers (.278/.336/.405) have had similar success as lefties (.258/.305/.333) this year against Jon Lester. David DeJesus has struggled against Lester in his career so look for Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson in tonight’s starting lineup.
The Cubs will have their work cut out for them tonight.
Cubs Career Numbers against Jon Lester
- Jeff Baker – 4-for-4
- Darwin Barney – 1-for-4 with a double
- Starlin Castro – 0-for-4
- David DeJesus – 1-for-15 with a walk
- Reed Johnson – 2-for-6 with a double
- Bryan LaHair – 0-for-2
- Alfonso Soriano – 3-for-6
- Luis Valbuena – 0-for-2
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