Game Seventy: Cubs (24-45) vs. Diamondbacks (34-35)
Game Time – 8:40pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187/914
Location – U.S. Chase Field, Phoenix
Jeff Samardzija (5-5, 4.04/1.35) vs. Joe Saunders (4-5, 3.44/1.38)
The Cubs resume play tonight after spending their off day in the desert. Dale Sveum’s team opens a three-game series against the Diamondbacks in a park that they have not fared too well in the past. The Cubs won four of seven against Arizona last year but that was before Kirk Gibson got his team going in the right direction. After a rough start to the season, Arizona enters play tonight a game under .500, third place in the West and 7 1/2 back of the Dodgers.
The Cubs have played better outside of Wrigley of late but are still just 10-26 on the road this season. They are coming off their first winning series on the road and are 3-3 in their last six.
Dale Sveum will send Jeff Samardzija to the hill tonight, followed by Paul Maholm on Saturday and Matt Garza in the finale on Sunday afternoon. The Cubs offense will have the tough task of figuring out Joe Saunders, Ian Kennedy and rookie southpaw Wade Miley.
Look for Dale Sveum to run out as many right handers as possible tonight against Joe Saunders. Righties are hitting .302/.356/.441 against Saunders this season while lefties have managed a .224/.234/.260 line.
The Cubs are 3-15 in games started by left-handers this season … and they are scheduled to face three lefties over the four games. While many think Anthony Rizzo will make his Cubs’ debut this weekend, the pitching match-ups may allow the Cubs’ front office to push back his call-up.
Tonight it all starts with Jeff Samardzija … Jeff Samardzija showed improvement in his last outing but still took the loss against the Red Sox. Samardzija allowed three runs on four hits with three walks and six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. Samardzija ran up his pitch count and left with one out in the sixth.
Samardzija still struggled with the command of his secondary pitches but was more successful than in his previous start against the Twins in which he allowed eight runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings. Dale Sveum said he was happy with the way Samardzija mixed his pitches and liked the fact he wasn’t just trying to blow everyone away.
Jeff Samardzija, like a majority of his teammates has struggled on the road this season. Samardzija is a very impressive 3-2 in six starts at Wrigley with a 2.36 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP but on the road, 2-3 in seven starts with a 6.00 ERA and a 1.78 WHIP.
After a sensational May (3-2 in six starts with a 2.48 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP), Samardzija is 0-2 in his last three starts with an 8.36 ERA and a 2.07 WHIP.
Tonight will be Samardzija’s first career start against the D-Backs. In five relief appearances, Samardzija does not have a record against Arizona and owns a 3.86 ERA and a 1.71 WHIP (two runs on one hit with seven walks and eight strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings) … in four games at Chase Field, 0.00 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP (no runs, one hit, five walks and six strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings).
Diamondbacks Career Numbers against Jeff Samardzija
- Miguel Montero – 0-for-1 with a walk
- Lyle Overbay – 0-for-2
- Gerardo Parra – 0-for-1
- Ryan Roberts – 0-for-1
- Justin Upton – 1-for-3 with a double and a walk
- Chris Young – 0-for-3 with a walk
Joe Saunders has put together a good start to the season. The Cubs were rumored to be interested in signing Saunders in the off-season but Saunders decided to he wanted to stay with Arizona. After a rough May (1-2 in six starts with a 6.12 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP), Saunders is 1-2 in his last three starts with a 2.89 ERA and a 1.66 WHIP. Saunders has continued allowing baserunners to reach (26 hits and five walks in 18 2/3 innings) but is back to limiting the damage.
The veteran southpaw has struggled in his home park this season. Saunders was 3-6 in 15 home starts a year ago with a 4.42 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP. This year, Saunders owns a 3-4 mark in seven starts at Chase Field with a 5.01 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP.
Joe Saunders has not beaten the Cubs in two tries. Saunders is 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA and a 2.19 WHIP.
Cubs Career Numbers against Joe Saunders
- Jeff Baker – 3-for-6 with a double
- Starlin Castro – 1-for-4 with a walk
- David DeJesus – 4-for-22
- Reed Johnson – 4-for-17 with three doubles and a triple
- Alfonso Soriano – 2-for-4 with a home run and a walk
- Geovany Soto – 2-for-3 with a double, a home run and two walks
- Luis Valbuena – 0-for-2
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