Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Braves – 07/02/12

Game Seventy-Nine: Cubs (29-49) vs. Braves (41-37)
Game Time – 6:10pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187/914
Location – Turner Field, Atlanta

Jeff Samardzija (5-7, 5.05/1.42) vs. Tommy Hanson (9-4, 3.59/1.35)

The Cubs are coming off their best homestand of the season can they begin their last road trip before the break with their fourth straight win? The Cubs open the final week of the first half with the first of four against the Atlanta Braves. The Cubs took two of three from Chipper Jones and company at Wrigley nearly two months ago (May 7 – May 9). The Braves enter play tonight in third place in the NL East, 4 1/2 back of the first place Washington Nationals.

After tonight’s opener of Jeff Samardzija against Tommy Hanson, which is a rematch of the game back on May 7 that the Cubs won 5-1, Chris Volstad will make his return to the Cubs rotation on Tuesday to face Jair Jurrjens. Paul Maholm and Randall Delgado are slated to start the game on the 4th of July … and Matt Garza and lefty Mike Minor are scheduled to start the finale on Thursday night. The Cubs will miss Tim Hudson in this series.

Alfonso Soriano received a much-needed day off Sunday and look for him to be in the lineup for the next four games. Soriano loves hitting against the Braves and at Turner Field. In 52 career games (212 at bats) against the Braves, Soriano owns a .325/.377/.679/1.056 line with 17 doubles, two triples and 18 home runs … at 24 games at Turner Field, .317/.364/.644/1.007 with seven doubles, a triple and eight home runs.

In other newsStarlin Castro and Bryan LaHair were named as reserves for the NL squad in the upcoming Mid-Summer Classic. Castro and LaHair, along with Dave McKay, will represent the Cubs in Kansas City in the 83rd All-Star game next Tuesday. Starlin Castro will make his second straight appearance in the All-Star game while Bryan LaHair will make his first trip. Both Castro and LaHair were voted in by the players … and Bryan LaHair is just the third Cubs’ first baseman in the last 30 years to be voted onto the NL All-Star roster (Derrek Lee, Mark Grace).

Ian Stewart has apparently elected to have surgery on his left wrist. The Cubs have not confirmed the news that Stewart announced on his Twitter account Sunday night. According to Ian Stewart, he would miss six to ten weeks but is hoping to return in September.

Tonight it all starts with Jeff Samardzija

Hopefully Jeff Samardzija’s last outing proves to be his low point of the season. Jeff Samardzija seemed to be pitching toward his outing against the Mets after losing three starts in a row with a couple of his worst performances of the year. But no one saw Samardzija pitching as bad as he did.

Jeff Samardzija allowed nine runs on six hits with four walks and one strikeout in 4 1/3 innings to the Mets in the embarrassing 17-1 loss last Wednesday. Samardzija has not shown the ability over the last six weeks to make the right adjustments the second and third time through the lineup. Samardzija is falling behind then trying to throw his way out of trouble instead of pitching is way out of jams. It appears Samardzija has slipped back to old habits that got him into trouble in the minor leagues and made him more of a candidate for the pen than the rotation.

After a promising April (2-1 in four starts with a 4.13 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP) and an outstanding May (3-2 in six starts with a 2.48 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP), Jeff Samardzija posted a 0-4 record in five starts last month with a 10.41 ERA and a 2.06 WHIP (33 hits, 15 walks and 20 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings).

Samardzija really needs a good outing tonight, but it doesn’t help that he will be outside of his home park where he has struggled mightily this season (2-4 in eight games with a 6.37 ERA and a 1.78 WHIP).

One of Jeff Samardzija’s best starts of the year came against the Braves on May 7. Samardzija tossed seven strong innings and allowed just one run on five hits with a pair of walks and seven strikeouts. Samardzija is 1-0 in seven games, one starts, in his career against the Braves with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP … at Turner Field, no record in four games with a 8.31 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP (six runs, four earned, on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings).

Braves Career Numbers against Jeff Samardzija

  • Michael Bourn – 4-for-7 with a double and a walk
  • Matt Diaz – 1-for-2 with a double
  • Freddie Freeman – 0-for-3 with a walk
  • Tommy Hanson – 0-for-2
  • Jason Heyward – 1-for-3 with a home run
  • Eric Hinske – 1-for-2 with a triple
  • Chipper Jones – 2-for-5 with a walk
  • Brian McCann – 0-for-4 with a walks
  • Martin Prado – 0-for-5
  • David Ross – 0-for-1
  • Dan Uggla – 1-for-11 with a home run and two walks
  • Jack Wilson – 0-for-1

When Tommy Hanson is going good he is one of the best young right-handers in the game … and unfortunately for the Cubs, he’s been very good of late. After struggling a little in May (2-2 in six starts with a 4.65 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP), Hanson has not lost a game in his last five outings. Hanson is 4-0 with a 3.13 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. Hanson is coming off a win against Arizona (three runs on seven hits with one walk and five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings) and has held opponents to three runs or less in eight of his last ten starts.

Tommy Hanson has struggled at Turner Field this season. He is 3-2 in seven starts with a 4.54 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP compared to a 6-2 mark in nine starts on the road with a 2.89 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP … teams are hitting nearly 60 points better against Hanson at home (.287) than on the road (.231).

The Cubs beat Tommy Hanson back on May 7 at Wrigley. Hanson allowed two runs on five hits with a pair of walks and three strikeouts in six innings. For his career, Hanson is 0-3 against the Cubs in three starts with a 4.41 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP.

Cubs Career Numbers against Tommy Hanson

  • Jeff Baker – 0-for-2
  • Darwin Barney – 0-for-3
  • Tony Campana – 1-for-3 with a double
  • Starlin Castro – 1-for-5 with a walk
  • David DeJesus – 0-for-2
  • Reed Johnson – 0-for-2
  • Bryan LaHair – 1-for-3 with a home run
  • Jeff Samardzija – 0-for-2
  • Geovany Soto – 1-for-2

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Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver