Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Pirates – 07/23/12

Game Ninety-Five: Cubs (38-56) vs. Pirates (54-40)
Game Time – 6:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187/914
Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh

Jeff Samardzija (6-8, 4.57/1.38) vs. Erik Bedard (11-4, 3.27/1.52)

The Cubs will try to end their three-game losing streak in the first of three against the red-hot Pittsburgh Pirates. The Bucs have won a season-high five straight and begin play tonight a half game back of the division leading Cincinnati Reds.

The Cubs had a miserable weekend in St. Louis. Dale Sveum’s team was outscored 23-1, shutout over the last 25 innings and was 0-for-13 with RISP over the three games. The Cubs have struggled on the road this season (14-35) and it does not figure to get any easier for them over the next three days.

The Pirates are one of the biggest stories of the baseball season to this point. Clint Hurdle has his team playing the game the right way while riding a very good pitching staff. After tonight’s matchup of Jeff Samardzija and Erik Bedard, Paul Maholm will face James McDonald on Tuesday night with Ryan Dempster penciled in against Kevin Correia in the finale.

The Cubs have really struggled against the Battlin’ Bucs over the past three-plus seasons. The Pirates swept the three-game series over Memorial Day Weekend, the only match-up between the Cubs and Pirates this season prior to tonight. The Cubs face the Pirates six times over the next nine games and Pittsburgh is looking at these games against the Cubs as a way to pad their win total.

In other news, and rumors … With the non-waiver trade deadline still eight days away, the Braves and Nationals are still in the mix for Ryan Dempster. According to multiple reports, the Cubs are not close on any deals involving Ryan Dempster. The Dodgers appear to be out on Ryan Dempster due to the Cubs’ asking price.

The interest in Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker appears to be picking up but any deal involving one of those two players would likely come right before the deadline next Tuesday.

Tonight it all starts with Jeff Samardzija

Updated 3:37pm CDTThe reports of Ryan Dempster being traded to the Braves on Monday appear to be premature at this point. The Cubs and Braves reportedly agreed to a deal that would send Dempster and cash to the Braves for RHP Randall Delgado. The depth of the proposed deal is unknown at this point. The two teams are reportedly still discussing a deal. Ryan Dempster shot down the reports on his foundation’s twitter account and refused to discuss the reports/rumors with the Chicago media in the Cubs’ clubhouse in Pittsburgh. There is speculation that Dempster has not waived his 10-5 rights and agreed to be traded to Atlanta.

Jeff Samardzija is coming off a no decision against the Marlins. The Cubs ended up winning the game 5-1 (3-7 in Samardzija’s last 10 starts) but Samardzija could not get quick outs and nine strikeouts, along with three walks, ran up his pitch count and he was out of the game by the fifth inning.

Samardzija has shown signs this season as being a big part of the Cubs’ rotation moving forward. Now he just needs to work on his consistency and putting batters away when he is ahead in counts.

Samardzija has struggled on the road this season (3-5 in 10 starts with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP) and will have his hands full against a very confident Pirates’ team. Samardzija is 1-0 in 11 career appearances against the Pirates, all in relief, with a 1.29 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP … at PNC Park, 1-0 in five outings with a 0.00 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP.

Pirates Career Numbers against Jeff Samardzija

  • Clint Barmes – 0-for-2
  • Josh Harrison – 0-for-1
  • Garrett Jones – 1-for-2 with a double
  • Andrew McCutchen – 2-for-5 with a walk
  • Casey McGehee – 1-for-6 with a home run and a walk
  • Michael McKenry – 0-for-3
  • Alex Presley – 0-for-1 with a walk
  • Neil Walker – 1-for-4 with a home run and two walks

The Cubs could not figure out Erik Bedard on May 27 and allowed the veteran southpaw to put together one of his best outings of the season. Matt Garza and the Cubs fell behind big early in the third and final game of the series and Bedard was pulled after tossing six innings of shutout ball and allowing only two hits with four walks and three strikeouts.

After losing back-to-back starts to the Cardinals and Giants, Bedard beat the Rockies in his last outing. Bedard held Colorado to two runs, one earned, on eight hits with four walks and four strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. Bedard is 1-2 in his last three starts with a 6.00 ERA and a 1.93 WHIP.

Erik Bedard has faced the Cubs’ organization only once in his career … and it was back in May at PNC Park.

Cubs Career Numbers against Erik Bedard

  • Jeff Baker – 1-for-4 with a walk
  • Darwin Barney – 0-for-1 with a walk
  • Starlin Castro – 0-for-3
  • David DeJesus – 1-for-9 with five walks
  • Reed Johnson – 7-for-31 with a double and two walks
  • Joe Mather – 1-for-3
  • Alfonso Soriano – 5-for-8 with two doubles, a home run and three walks
  • Luis Valbuena – 1-for-3

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