Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Pirates – 09/16/12

Game One Hundred Forty-Six: Cubs (57-88) vs. Pirates (73-71)
Game Time – 1:20pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183/914
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Chris Volstad (3-10, 5.99/1.55) vs. Jeff Locke (0-1, 4.11/1.04)

The Cubs will try to get back in the win column this afternoon behind Chris Volstad. The Cubs’ four-game winning streak against the Pirates came to an end on Saturday and the team figures to face the same challenges this afternoon with Jeff Locke on the hill for the Pirates.

Dale Sveum will likely run out a lineup this afternoon similar to the one he used on Saturday but he might want to think about the defense behind Chris Volstad as well. Right-handers are hitting .208/.224/.327 against Jeff Locke and lefties are hitting .385/.385/.615. While it is a very small sample size, if the Cubs are looking for Volstad to finish his season on a positive note, the best team defensively should be placed behind him.

In other newsStarlin Castro has set single-season career highs in home runs (13), RBI (75) and triples (13). Castro is four short (31) of his career-high for walks (35) and 11 off the pace for the most doubles he’s hit in a single-season. Castro enters play this after with 93 strikeouts, three off the 96 times he struck out a year ago.

Anthony Rizzo is averaging a RBI in every 7.4 at bats this season.

Alfonso Soriano begins play with 99 RBI, five short of his career-high set 2005 with the Texas Rangers (104). Soriano has broken the century mark in RBI twice in his career … 2005 with the Rangers and 2002 with the Yankees (102). Soriano is also one short of his first 30 home run season since 2007 and the 29 longballs he’s hit this year is the most in a single-season since 2008.

This afternoon it all starts with Chris Volstad

Chris Volstad is coming off his third win in his last four starts. Volstad survived a rocky start in Houston in which he lasted only five innings and walked a season-high five batters. Volstad pitched his way in and out of trouble all night but did not have the ‘one bad inning‘ that has plagued him all season. If he pitches today the way he did against the Astros, the Pirates will have a big day at the old ballyard.

Volstad has shown improvement since being recalled in early August but he has not pitched past the fifth inning in his last two starts. Volstad is 1-1 in his last two outings with a 5.40 ERA and a 2.20 WHIP and since August 4, 3-3 in eight starts with a 4.08 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP.

Chris Volstad did not face the Bucs last week in Pittsburgh and this afternoon will be his first start, and last start, of the year against the Bucs. Volstad owns a 2-2 record in four career starts against the Pirates with a 7.45 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP.

Pirates Career Numbers against Chris Volstad

  • Pedro Alvarez – 5-for-7 with a double and a home run
  • Rod Barajas – 0-for-4
  • Clint Barmes – 1-for-8 with a walk
  • Garrett Jones – 0-for-7 with a walk
  • Andrew McCutchen – 2-for-11
  • Jose Tabata – 1-for-6 with three walks
  • Neil Walker – 2-for-7 with two doubles and a walk

The Cubs will get their second look in seven days at lefty Jeff Locke. Locke’s last start came against the Cubs last Sunday in Pittsburgh and he held Dale Sveum’s offense to a pair of solo home runs (Josh Vitters and Anthony Recker) over six innings. Locke surrendered seven hits, did not walk a batter and struck out six. Locke is making his third start, seventh of his big league career, this afternoon still in search of his first Major League victory.

Jeff Locke is 0-1 in his last two starts with a 5.73 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP … and an impressive 12 strikeouts with just one walk in his last 11 innings.

Today will be Locke’s second career start and outing against the Cubs and his first at Wrigley Field.

Cubs Career Numbers against Jeff Locke

  • Darwin Barney – 1-for-3
  • Starlin Castro – 0-for-3
  • Joe Mather – 2-for-3
  • Anthony Recker – 1-for-2 with a home run
  • Anthony Rizzo – 1-for-3
  • Dave Sappelt – 2-for-5 with a double
  • Alfonso Soriano – 0-for-3
  • Josh Vitters – 1-for-3 with a home run

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …

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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