Game Seventy-Six: Cubs (26-49) vs. Astros (32-44)
Game Time – 1:20pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185/914
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Paul Maholm (4-6, 5.38/1.42) vs. Bud Norris (5-4, 4.81/1.42)
Weather permitting … The Cubs resume play this afternoon after spending their first off day in Chicago since April 6. It will be interesting to see how Dale Sveum’s team responds this afternoon in their first game back since Wednesday’s embarrassing, historic loss.
The Astros arrived to Chicago early Friday morning after suffering a rough loss at home to the Padres. Andrew Cashner took a no-hitter into the seventh before Carlos Lee broke it up and Brian Bogusevic gave Houston the lead with a two-run homer off Cashner. The Astros took a 3-1 lead into the ninth but ended up losing 7-3.
The Cubs and Astros square off for the second time this season. Brad Mills’ team swept the Cubs in Houston in late May (May 21-May 23) and since 2010, the Cubs are 15-21 against the Astros. Unfortunately for the Cubs, they will see the same three starters this weekend that they did in Houston five weeks ago. Follow this afternoon’s matchup of Paul Maholm and Bud Norris, Matt Garza will square off against lefty J.A. Happ on Saturday with Travis Wood and Wandy Rodriguez scheduled to start Sunday’s finale.
The Astros are expected to be without Jose Altuve until Sunday. Altuve is dealing with a hamstring issue.
The Cubs must be patient against Bud Norris this afternoon, especially early in the game. Norris has been on the DL since June 13 with a sprained left knee and will make his first start since June 12 this afternoon. Norris has dominated the Cubs in his career and Sveum’s team must keep him from getting comfortable and finding a rhythm.
The final series at Wrigley before the break all starts with Paul Maholm … Prior to his last outing, Paul Maholm looked more like the pitcher that took the hill from the end of April into May. Maholm put together quality starts against the Tigers (two runs on six hits with a walk and seven strikeouts) and the Red Sox (three runs on six hits with a walk and six strikeouts in six innings) at Wrigley. Maholm walked only two batters in 12 innings with 13 strikeouts in his two games before his last outing.
Paul Maholm could not complete four innings in Arizona and issued seven runs (season-high), six earned, on nine hits with three walks and no strikeouts. Maholm also hit a batter and threw nearly 90 pitches (89, 53 strikes) in under four innings. The Cubs’ defense let Maholm down and he mentioned as much in his post-game press conference. Maholm also said he has to make better pitches and not let adversity get to him.
After posting a 2-1 record in five May starts with a 3.56 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP, Maholm is 0-3 in his last five games with a 6.93 ERA and a 1.74 WHIP.
Paul Maholm is 3-2 in seven starts at Wrigley this season with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP … and this afternoon is his first start of the year against the Astros. Maholm is 11-6 in 20 career starts against Houston with two complete game shutouts (3.31 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP). Maholm was 1-0 in three starts against the ‘Stros a year ago with a 2.50 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP.
Astros Career Numbers against Paul Maholm
- Jason Castro – 0-for-5
- Matt Downs – 1-for-5
- Chris Johnson – 1-for-12
- Carlos Lee – 14-for-54 with four doubles and two walks
- Bud Norris – 2-for-3 with a double
- Jordan Schafer – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Chris Snyder – 3-for-4 with two double and a walk
The Cubs will not see Marwin Gonzalez this time around. Gonzalez was placed on the disabled list June 7 with a bruised right heal. The Rule 5 draft pick was hitting .261/.292/.348 in 37 games (69 at bats) with a home run and three doubles. The Cubs will see another familiar face in an Astros’ uniform, Scott Moore is currently on Houston’s 25-man roster.
Bud Norris will make his first start this afternoon since June 12 in San Francisco. Norris lasted just 3 1/3 innings against the Giants and allowed three runs on three hits with a three walks and five strikeouts in a 6-3 loss. Norris was struggling badly prior to going on the DL (0-2 in two starts with a 6.75 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP) after posting 4-1 mark in May (six starts) with a 3.62 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP.
The Astros’ right-hander has been inconsistent this season … and his best outing of the year came against the Cubs in Houston. Norris shutout the Cubs over seven innings and surrendered only five hits with three walks and eight strikeouts.
Bud Norris is 3-2 in six games, five starts, in his career against the Cubs with a 1.89 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP.
Cubs Career Numbers against Bud Norris
- Jeff Baker – 1-for-6 with a double
- Darwin Barney – 1-for-8
- Tony Campana – 1-for-3 with a walk
- Starlin Castro – 3-for-11
- David DeJesus – 1-for-3 with a walk
- Bryan LaHair – 0-for-3
- Paul Maholm – 1-for-5
- Alfonso Soriano – 3-for-10 with a double, a home run and two walks
- Geovany Soto – 2-for-6 with a home run
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