Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Astros – 09/12/12

Game One Hundred Forty-Three: Cubs (55-87) vs. Astros (45-97)
Game Time – 7:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 186/914
Location – Minute Maid Park, Houston

Travis Wood (5-11, 4.42/1.21) vs. Fernando Abad (0-3, 5.30/1.71)

The Cubs 10-game road trip and stretch of 20 games in a row comes to an end tonight with their last game of the season in Houston. The Cubs are 4-5 on the trip and 8-11 over the last 19 games.

Tonight will be the Cubs last game in Houston while the Astros are still part of the NL Central. The long-time division rivals close out the season with three at Wrigley (October 1-October 3). Next season’s schedule was released Wednesday and the Astros will play at Wrigley next season but Cubs will not play in Houston first time since 1962.

Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo are both expected to be held out of tonight’s finale. Jackson was expected back in the lineup yesterday but was still too sore to play after he collided with the wall in Pittsburgh on Friday night. With the lefty on the hill tonight for the Astros, the Cubs are hoping Brett Jackson is able to return for the opener against the Pirates on Friday afternoon. The Cubs are also hoping that Rizzo is able to return to the lineup for Friday’s opener with the Bucs.

With another southpaw going for the Astros, look for Dale Sveum to use a similar lineup tonight to the one he used in Monday’s opener … with one possible exception. With Rizzo likely out and the Cubs’ unwillingness to play Bryan LaHair against lefties, could Josh Vitters get the start at first base? Vitters has limited experience at first base (41 games) over the past two seasons.

Tonight it all starts with Travis Wood

Travis Wood is coming off a win and an excellent outing against the Pirates. Wood tossed six innings of shutout ball last Friday night and allowed just one hit while issuing three walks and striking out five. The only hit was a double off the bat of Pedro Alvarez in the fifth. Brett Jackson was able to get a glove on the ball at the wall … but could not haul it in. Wood could have gone back out for the seventh inning but after the Cubs put a three-spot on the board in the sixth and five more in the seventh there was no reason for him to go back out.

Travis Wood has pitched better than his record of late. Wood has five quality starts in his last 10 outings. After posting a 0-5 record in six starts in August with a 4.14 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP, Wood is 1-0 in his last two outings with a 1.54 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP.

Travis Wood has pitched better on the road (3-6 in 10 starts with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP) than he has at Wrigley (2-5 in 11 starts with a 4.86 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP) this season.

Tonight will be Travis Wood’s third start of the season against the Astros. Wood is 1-1 in the first two with a 1.35 ERA and a 0.53 WHIP. Wood beat Houston at Wrigley on July 1 with 7 2/3 innings of shutout ball. Wood owns a 2-2 record in seven career starts against the Astros with a 2.09 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP … at Minute Maid, 1-2 in four starts with a 2.96 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP.

Astros Career Numbers against Travis Wood

  • Jose Altuve – 2-for-8 with a home run
  • Brian Bogusevic – 0-for-3
  • Jason Castro – 0-for-3
  • Tyler Greene – 1-for-6 with a double
  • J.D. Martinez – 2-for-7 with a double
  • Justin Maxwell – 0-for-2 with a walk
  • Jimmy Paredes – 0-for-2
  • Chris Snyder – 2-for-7
  • Brett Wallace – 0-for-5 with a walk

Fernando Abad has pitched in 33 games for the Astros this season and 30 of those appearances have been made out of the pen. Houston is looking at him as a starter and he will make his fourth straight start tonight.

Abad has not completed five innings in any of his three starts and has been hit pretty hard in his last two outings. After allowing one run on four hits to the Mets in his first start of the season on August 25, Abad gave up six runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings to the Reds and five runs, four earned, on six hits to the Pirates his last time out.

As a starter this season, Fernando Abad is 0-3 in three outings with a 8.03 ERA and a 2.27 WHIP … 12 runs, 11 earned, on 19 hits with nine walks and six strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings.

Fernando Abad will make his first start against the Cubs tonight. Abad does not have a decision in 10 relief appearances and owns a 2.16 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP.

Cubs Career Numbers against Fernando Abad

  • Darwin Barney – 0-for-3
  • Tony Campana – 0-for-2
  • Starlin Castro – 1-for-2 with a walk
  • David DeJesus – 2-for-3
  • Anthony Rizzo – 0-for-1
  • Alfonso Soriano – 0-for-3
  • Luis Valbuena – 0-for-1

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Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth