Game Eighty-Two: Cubs (31-50) vs. Braves (42-39)
Game Time – 6:10pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185/914
Location – Turner Field, Atlanta
Matt Garza (4-6, 4.01/1.16) vs. Mike Minor (4-6, 6.20/1.47)
Weather permitting … Can Dale Sveum’s team finish the season series against the Braves with a victory and post their third straight series win? The Cubs have already won the season series against Atlanta (4-2) but a win tonight would go a long way to a strong finish to the first half.
The Cubs have shown improvement of late, even in games started by lefties. The Cubs are 6-17 against southpaws this season and will face three left handers over the next four games. Dale Sveum should send out his everyday lineup tonight. Mike Minor has struggled all season and right handers are hitting .272/.342/.451 against him while lefties have managed a .267/.356/.375 line.
The Braves are one of many teams rumored to be interested in Matt Garza. Atlanta has actually been connected to Garza and Ryan Dempster as well as Zack Greinke. The Braves are looking to add pitching and a good outing tonight for Garza would go a long way to help his value … that is, if Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are actually looking to move him.
In other news … Ryan Dempster, not Chris Volstad, could be starting Sunday’s finale in New York. Multiple reports early in the week indicated that Dempster would not return until after the break. Following another side session Wednesday, Dempster said he felt great and would like to start in the final game before the break. Dale Sveum said they will wait to see how Dempster feels Thursday then make a decision by Friday.
The surgery on Ian Stewart’s sore left wrist has been scheduled for Tuesday at the Cleveland Clinic. With Ian Stewart likely done for the year, look for the Cubs to transfer him from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL soon in order to clear a roster spot on the 40-man roster.
Tonight it all begins with Matt Garza … Matt Garza is coming off his second win in three starts in a game that he did not have his best stuff. Garza could not put the Astros away last Saturday, ran up his pitch count and left with one out in the sixth inning. Garza allowed two runs on nine hits with three walks and one strikeout in 5 1/3 innings. The Cubs won the game 3-2 thanks to a two-out RBI single off the bat of Starlin Castro and a two-run shot from Anthony Rizzo. Garza needs a better outing tonight in his last start before the break.
Garza finished June with a 2-3 record in six starts with a 3.72 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP … a step forward from May (0-2 in four starts with a 6.86 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP) but nowhere near his first five starts of the season (2-1 with a 2.67 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP).
Matt Garza is still maintaining a better than 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio (31 strikeouts and seven walks in last 36 1/3 innings) but the deep counts have shortened his outings. Garza averaged nearly seven innings per start in April (6 2/3 innings), just under five in May (4 2/3 innings) and right around six in June.
Garza did not face the Braves back in May at Wrigley and is 0-1 in two career starts against Atlanta with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP … no record in one start at Turner Field with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP (four runs, two earned, on six hits with one walks and five strikeouts in five innings).
Braves Career Numbers against Matt Garza
- Michael Bourn – 10-for-17
- Matt Diaz – 1-for-3
- Juan Francisco – 0-for-3
- Freddie Freeman – 2-for-6
- Jason Heyward – 0-for-4
- Eric Hinske – 2-for-7 with a walk
- Brian McCann – 1-for-5 with a home run and a walk
- Martin Prado – 2-for-6 with a double
- Dan Uggla – 4-for-13 with two walks
- Jack Wilson – 1-for-1
Mike Minor began June on a positive note after just a horrible May (0-2 in five starts with a 9.95 ERA and a 1.89 WHIP). Minor allowed one run on four hits with five walks and four strikeouts in five innings to the Fish and picked up his first win in nearly two months. Minor then held the Yankees to one run on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings … arguably his best start of the season. But it has been all downhill for Minor since.
Minor has not completed six innings of work in each of his last three outings while allowing four earned runs in each of those starts. Minor picked up a win against the Nationals in his last start (four runs on five hits with five walks and two strikeouts in five innings) but is 1-2 with a 7.05 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP. Minor has walked 11 batters with just 13 strikeouts in his last 15 1/3 innings.
The Cubs must be patient against the very talented, but underachieving southpaw tonight … something they have not done in the past. Minor is a perfect 3-0 in three career starts against the Cubs with a 4.86 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP. Minor has 24 strikeouts and just two walks in 16 2/3 career innings against the Cubs.
One of the keys for the Cubs is that Dale Sveum must use his everyday lineup and leave the right-handed platoons for the opening of the Mets’ series against Johan Santana. Right handers are hitting .272/.342/.451 against Minor this season while lefties have managed a .267/.356/.375 line.
Cubs Career Numbers against Mike Minor
- Jeff Baker – 2-for-8 with two doubles and a walk
- Darwin Barney – 1-for-4
- Starlin Castro – 3-for-9 with a double
- Reed Johnson – 2-for-6
- Alfonso Soriano – 2-for-8 with a double and a home run
- Geovany Soto – 0-for-4
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