Game Twenty-Four: Cubs (9-14) vs. Marlins (5-19)
- Game Time – 12:10pm CDT
- Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channels 184/844
- Location – Marlins Park, Miami
Carlos Villanueva (1-0, 1.53/0.75) vs. Ricky Nolasco (1-2, 3.81/1.27)
The Cubs wrap-up their 10-game road trip (4-5) this afternoon with a chance at a .500 record. After giving away the first four games, the Cubs have won four of five including the last three over the Marlins. The Cubs have not won four straight games since sweeping the Pirates in Pittsburgh and winning the first game in Houston last September (Sept 7 – Sept 10) and the last time they swept a four game series was in August of 2011. The Cubs swept the four-game series in Pittsburgh (Aug 1 – Aug 4) that started a six-game winning streak.
The Cubs have set a new franchise record by having 20 of their first 23 games decided by three runs or less … and a new franchise mark of all 23 of their games being decided by four runs or less to start the season.
It is pretty safe to say that Carlos Villanueva has been the biggest surprise for the Cubs this season. Villanueva has put together four excellent outings and will look to match Travis Wood for the team lead in quality starts this afternoon. Wood has five quality starts, Villanueva four, Jeff Samardzija three, Edwin Jackson two and Scott Feldman one.
Dale Sveum said Saturday that Dioner Navarro would get the start behind the today. Sveum is looking to give Welington Castillo a breather with a day game after a night game, plus Navarro is 7-for-10 with two doubles and a home run in his career against Ricky Nolasco.
The Cubs open a now 10-game homestand on Monday with the first of four against the Padres. After the three-game series with the Reds next weekend, the Cubs and Rangers will make up the game from April 17 on Monday, May 6 then the homestand wraps up with two against the Cardinals.
There were reports that Ian Stewart could be activated during the upcoming homestand. Stewart is struggling with Iowa. Stewart missed Friday’s game after being hit by a pitch on Thursday. Stewart went 0-for-3 with a walk on Saturday night … and is 3-for-30 in nine games with Iowa that includes four walks, one double, three runs scored, three RBI and 10 strikeouts.
This afternoon all starts with Carlos Villanueva.
Carlos Villanueva is coming off an excellent start against a very good Reds team. Villanueva came within two outs of the first complete game of his career. Dale Sveum pulled him in the ninth after he walked Shin-Soo Choo and a sac bunt put Choo into scoring position. Villanueva did not look happy when he gave up the ball. Joey Votto singled in the tying run and sent the game into extras. Darwin Barney recorded the game winner with his the first home run of his career outside of Wrigley Field. Villanueva said after the game he was happy the Cubs won the game … the Cubs are 3-1 in Villanueva’s four starts.
Villanueva has made four starts this season and posted four quality starts. Of the five runs he’s allowed, four have come via solo home runs … Justin Upton, Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz and Chris Heisey. Sveum credits Villanueva’s success with his ability to execute a game plan.
Carlos Villanueva has recorded 21 strikeouts with only six walks with 16 hits allowed in 29 1/3 innings this season. Not bad for a guy that was penciled in as the swingman when pitchers and catchers reported to Mesa back in February.
This afternoon will be Villanueva’s third career start against the Marlins. Villanueva is 1-1 in 10 appearances, two starts, with a 5.79 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP.
Marlins Career Numbers against Carlos Villanueva
- Chris Coghlan – 1-for-2 with a triple
- Gregg Dobbs – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Austin Kearns – 1-for-3 with a triple and a walk
- Miguel Olivo – 1-for-6 with a home run
- Juan Pierre – 2-for-12 with a walk
- Placido Polanco – 2-for-9 with a walk
- Chris Valaika – 1-for-1
Ricky Nolasco has pitched his best ball against the team that traded him away for Juan Pierre in December of 2005. While consistency has been one of Nolasco’s problems during his career, Nolasco has been consistently dominant when he has faced the Cubs.
Nolasco is off to a decent start to his season. Nolasco beat the Twins the last time out after allowing three runs, two earned, on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts in five innings. Nolasco has not pitched past the six innings in any of his five starts.
Ricky Nolasco is 4-2 in eight career appearances, seven starts, against the Cubs with a 2.85 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP … and won the only game he pitched against the Cubs a year ago. The Cubs need to be ready to get the best that Nolasco has to offer this afternoon.
Cubs Career Numbers against Ricky Nolasco
- Darwin Barney – 1-for-8 with a triple
- Julio Borbon – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Starlin Castro – 5-for-12
- David DeJesus – 0-for-4 with two walks
- Scott Hairston – 2-for-9 with a home run
- Dioner Navarro – 7-for-10 with two doubles and a home run
- Dave Sappelt – 2-for-4
- Nate Schierholtz – 4-for-12 with a home run
- Alfonso Soriano – 5-for-25 with two home runs
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …