Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Astros – 06/29/12

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

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …

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Quote of the Day

"Never let the fear of striking out get in your way of playing the game." – Babe Ruth

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  • Neil

    Today’s lineup:

    DeJesus – CF
    Castro – SS
    Rizzo – 1B
    Soriano – LF
    LaHair – RF
    Clevenger – C
    Barney – 2B
    Valbuena – 3B
    Maholm – P

  • Neil

    From Bruce Miles:

    Dempster probably won’t start til after break. Dempster threw from flat ground today and is expected to throw off mound Sat or Sun.
    Cubs are considering Coleman or Volstad for Tuesday’s start in Atlanta

    • BosephHeyden

      Of the two, Coleman would be preferred for two reasons:

      1) He’s not Chris Volstad
      2) He needs an identity and the Cubs should have a veteran be the long man in the pen.

      However, it would also be preferable to stretch out Coleman in the minors like the Padres did with Cashner before starting him. So, with that being said, and with the news you posted down there, a lot of people here seem to think this Rusin kid is a preferable pitcher for a four or five spot. I think the best move would be to put Stewart on the 60 Day DL, purchase the kid’s contract, and let’s see what he has.

      Because, at this point in time, any answer the Cubs have to filling a void on the team caused by injury or trade that doesn’t involve giving one of the young guys a shot is inexcusable and counter-productive to the mission statement they said this team has. Chris Volstad was a poor trade that was made out of “necessity”, and, after two teams and numerous seasons of proof, is clearly not capable of pitching to major league hitting. Coleman wouldn’t be a bad answer, so long as they stuck with him, which I don’t think they will since Dempster, and for that matter Garza, has yet to be traded.

      • ChadAudio

        Interesting thoughts on promoting Rusin and putting Stewart to the DL.

        I don’t think I like the option of bringing Rusin up so early either… but maybe desperate times demand it.

        I disagree with you about Coleman. I don’t think he is an answer in the rotation at all. Not even as a band-aid. Like I said, I think I’d rather see Rodrigo Lopez for 4 innings, and then call it a bullpen day. When I referenced Coleman pitching a little better, it was because he was in the pen (before geting hit with the broken bat). Personally, I feel Coleman is exactly as bad as Volstad in the rotation, and feel the only future either pitcher MAY have is in the pen.

        Just an opinion though.

    • ChadAudio

      Uh oh. I guess I pick Volstad… only because I’ve seen a little too much of Coleman lately. I think I’d rather see Rodrigo Lopez instead of either of those options though.

      Honestly, I felt that Coleman was starting to pitch a bit better before he got hit by that broken bat. Since then, he’s thrown batting practice.

      A lot of people that comment on this blog want Coleman and Wells cut… But look at our 40man – we have NO other options at SP.

      • BosephHeyden

        Yeah, I think the broken bat thing might be a killer with Coleman. Or, they could be smart, put Coleman on the DL, and have him make some “rehab appearances” that involve stretching him out in the minors. I doubt this team will, though.

        • Zonk

          You can’t disable a guy, then start stretching him out immediately.

          • BosephHeyden

            No you can’t, but you can give a guy 15 days off and then give him a few minor league starts before bringing him up.

    • Zonk

      It doesn’t matter who starts, really. Neither is a long-term answer, and we’re not contending. Rusin has been OK, but there isn’t anything in his stats or makeup to suggest he’s anything more than a very fringy lefty who will get pumelled on the ML level

    • wrigleylover

      Since Coleman is on the active roster and Volstad is not, it will be Coleman.

    • wrigleylover

      Since Coleman is on the active roster and Volstad is not, it would be Coleman

      • ChadAudio

        Yeah, but aren’t they going to have to replace Well’s spot on the active roster pitching staff anyway?

        Yes, I know is space was created on the 40man for Soler – but I don’t think they are going to leave Scott Maine and Dollis up here are they?

  • Neil

    Stewart said the shot he received in his left wrist has not eased the pain. No word on the next step for Stewart.

    • Zonk

      Season-ending surgery, and a spot on the 60-day DL?
      You can’t play through wrist pain as a hitter. Just doesn’t work. If the shots don’t work, there is no other option.
      Given his salary, he’ll be non-tendered this winter for sure

      • paulcatanese

        Zonk, he never should have been signed in the first place, as he had that wrist problem before he came over to the Cubs.
        I will give him credit tho for being the best fielder the Cubs have had at 3b, Valbuena really is not the answer with his glove.
        If one could have Valbuena’s bat and Stewart’s glove it would be the best of two worlds.
        Is Vitters that bad wth his glove that he could not be brought up, other (again, control) than options and money?

  • Neil

    Officially in rain delay at Wrigley. No start time announced.

  • RickinMSP

    I’m with Chad regarding Coleman vs Volstad, pitch Rodigio Lopez. Coleman has proven to me that he isn’t a major league pitcher. It looked for a while that he would be serviceable out of the bullpen, but it just hasn’t worked out. Lopez is the least bad option of the three.
    Hey Cubtex, I’m flying down to Austin in a couple of hours. Looking forwad to sinking my teeth into some Salt Lick BBQ. They just can’t do bbq here in the Twin Cities.

    • cubtex

      Awesome Rick! Salt Lick is great. 100 degrees this week so wash it down with a LoneStar beer!

      • texcubnut

        Or a Shiner Bock!

        • cubtex

          Now you are showing too much class :) Shiner Summer Ale.

        • RickinMSP

          I spent 15 years stationed at Fort Hood and never tried a Lone Star, Shiner on the other hand…

          • cubtex

            They sell LoneStar at Salt Lick….that is why I mentioned it. Which Salt Lick are you going to? They have one in Round Rock right next to the Dell Diamond. You can get some great bar b que…..drink your first lonestar….and watch ex Cub Corey Patterson now with the Nashville Sounds play the Express at 7pm :) Jeff Bianchi who was on the Cubs 40 man roster for a week is also on Nashville. Enjoy your weekend!!!!!

  • RobCub

    Finally!!!! A game on WGN! Too bad the rain delay will probably wipe it out & we get to watch old Cubs interviews…

  • wrigleylover

    Altuve is out and the Astros are crummy so it should be wins for the Cubs pitchers

  • CubsMVP

    Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head

    But that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turnin’ red

    Cryin’s not for me

    ‘Cause I’m never gonna stop the rain by complainin’

    Because I’m free

    Nothin’s worryin’ me……..

    Poll Question of the day……..

    Which Astros player do you think gave the Cubs the most trouble?

    A – Cesar Cedeno
    B – J.R. Richard
    C – Nolan Ryan
    D – Jeff Bagwell
    E – Craig Biggio
    F – Dickie Thon
    G – Jose Cruz
    H – Joe Niekro
    I – Carlos Lee

    • Aaron

      Really? Are you the spawn of CubsChatter? Polls?

      • matthew8510

        ya he is he keeps changing his name

      • Scott McMeekan

        Heh. Heh heh heh. He said ‘spawn’. Heh.

    • Dickie Thon Fan

      Dickie Thon – sounds hard.

  • Neil

    Looks like a 2:15 start

  • cubtex

    Matt Szcur listed as #1 prospect from June 23 thru 28th on Check it out.

    • Tony_Hall

      Thanks for posting. Did you read all the way to the bottom, it had a post about Jeimer Candelario and how he homered in 3 straight games for Boise.

    • Tony_Hall

      Sorry couldn’t help it with our discussion yesterday.

      Also in this article…

      Rays SS Hak-Ju Lee scuffled to begin the season and was hitting .232/.297/.292 at the end of May. The 21-year-old plus defender has hit .323/.385/.455 in June and has four multi-hit games over the last week for Double-A Montgomery. The lefty-hitting Lee took advantage of the extra opportunities on base by stealing 11 bags in his last 10 games to take the Southern League lead with 27

  • Neil

    Randy Wells cleared waivers and has been assigned to Triple-A Iowa

  • RMercer69

    Just got chills watching the last 3 inning of KWoods 20 strikeout performance. Then, it was kind of a downer thinking he just wasn’t healthy enough to be that nasty more consistently. Then, to top it off, it made me go down memory lane and lament the abrupt end for Prior.

    Hopefully, better days are ahead soon.

  • Neil

    From Baseball America: Cubs sign 3rd-rder Ryan McNeil for $425k (pick value=$471,900) Calif HS RHP has 90-93 FB, athleticism, flashes solid slider

  • Neil

    Clevenger with his first big league homer

    • RickinMSP

      What a thrill for Clevenger. I’m sitting at the MSP airport following the Cubs game and CCO on my phone, isn’t modern technology great!

      • Neil

        That’s cool …

  • Neil

    Soriano with a blast … #15

  • Cloycub13

    Just keep hitting Homers Sori! Thattaboy, you’ll get to DH soon enough if you keep this up!

  • paulcatanese

    Looks like LaHair is now chasing Soriono.

  • CubsMVP

    Memo to the ball boys along the foul lines from Theo…….”Don’t interfere with balls in play”

  • John_CC

    Wow…Maholm into the 9th!

  • Neil

    Cubs beat Astros 4-0 Friday afternoon – Paul Maholm: 0R, 4H, 1BB, 6K, HBP in 8.1IP; Alfonso Soriano: 2-for-4,HR; Steve Clevenger: 1-for-3, HR, 2RBI, BB; Luis Valbuena: 1-for-3, HR

  • Tony_Hall

    Nice game for Maholm.

    8 1/3 IP
    0 Runs
    4 Hits
    1 BB
    6 K’s

    • cubtex

      Not to diminish his start…..but it was the Astros. Hahaha…..I couldn’t resist :)

      • Tony_Hall

        I teed it up for you, was wondering when you would hit it out :)

  • NIUCubs

    8. Josh Vitters, 3B, Chicago Cubs (Last week: unranked)
    Last week’s stats (at Triple-A Iowa):10-for-26 (.385), 1 HR, 3 RBIs
    Season totals: .289-12-40, 1 SB in 77 games
    Update: The third overall pick in the 2007 draft, Vitters has had plenty of stops and starts to his development, but scouts have always remained at least a bit optimistic about him, as he always has been a contact machine and always had the potential for power. Still just 22, he’s hardly an old prospect blooming too late, but he’s definitely blooming, and there are few more wide-open positions and team combinations than third base for the Cubs.
    What he can do: This is hardly Vitters’ first hot streak, but his slugging percentage is currently at a career high, and he could be in line for a look as the club figures out which few players on its roster will play a role in its future. Third base has become a tough place to find offense, and while he doesn’t look like a future star, Vitters should provide some batting average and power down the road.

  • RynoTiger

    So according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers may be the frontrunner to land Dempster, if that were true, who should the Cubs get from the Dodgers in this trade?

    • cubtex

      It wouldn’t surprise me if Alfredo Silverio was included in the deal. He is an outfielder with good power and a good arm. Since they just signed Ethier and with Kemp in cf…..he is expendable. They also have several rhp in their top 10. Maybe someone like Gould and Silviero would be good.

      • BosephHeyden

        A young power bat would be ideal. Somewhere along the line we’re also going to have to get a good young arm that can start, but making sure we have a guy that can hit between 20-30 home runs in a season would be great.

  • Neil

    Tarp is being placed on the field

  • BosephHeyden

    The storms are supposed to be out of Illinois by noon-ish, but I was watching the weather and its a huge chain from northern to the mid-Illinois that they said will have hail. Seriously, we have HAIL in late June, but I can count on one hand how much rain we’ve had since mid-May.

  • paulcatanese

    Rain may be the best option for the Cubs today. Because of both teams standings in the Central, game most likely not be made up.
    One less game would raise the Cub’s winning percentage,have to increase wins anyway one can.