Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Cardinals – 05/08/13

Game Thirty-Four: Cubs (13-20) vs. Cardinals (20-12)

  • Game Time – 1:20pm CDT
  • Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channels 183/844
  • Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Carlos Villanueva (1-2, 2.85/0.93) vs. Jake Westbrook (2-1, 1.07/1.40)

The Cubs wrap up their first series with the Cardinals this afternoon with a shot at a .500 homestand. After splitting the four-games with the Padres and winning the last two against the Rangers and Cardinals, the Cubs are 4-5 on the 10-game homestand with one left to play. This afternoon ends a stretch of 21 games in 23 days for the Cubs … a three game winning streak would be a great way to spend Thursday’s day off, their first scheduled off day since April 15.

Carlos Villanueva has been one of the surprises for the Cubs over the first six weeks of the year. Villanueva has not been as sharp the last two times out and he will have his hands full this afternoon with the high-powered Cardinals offense.

Look for Dale Sveum to load his lineup with as many lefties as possible. Left-handers are hitting .327 against Jake Westbrook this season while right handers are hitting under the Mendoza Line (.197). Dioner Navarro should spell Welington Castillo with a day game following a night game and Ryan Sweeney could get his first start in left. Alfonso Soriano has struggled in his career against Westbrook (3-for-30 with two walks), plus Thursday’s day off would give Soriano a nice long breather before Friday night’s game at Nationals Park.

This afternoon all starts with Carlos Villanueva

Carlos Villanueva is coming off his shortest outing of the season and his second straight loss. Villanueva lasted for just 5 2/3 innings and allowed four runs on seven hits to the Reds with two walks and four strikeouts. Villanueva did not pitch as bad as his final line but still pitched poorly enough to allow four runs for the second straight outing.

Villanueva makes his fourth start at Wrigley this afternoon. Villanueva is 1-1 in the first three with a 2.70 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP. Even with his last two outings, Villanueva has been very, very good this season.

Carlos Villanueva is very familiar with the Cardinals’ organization from his days in Milwaukee. Villanueva will make his 26th career appearance, eighth start, against the Redbirds. Villanueva owns a 5-3 career mark in 25 games, seven starts, with a 3.10 and a 1.18 WHIP.

Cardinals Career Numbers against Carlos Villanueva

  • Carlos Beltran – 0-for-3 with a walk
  • Allen Craig – 1-for-1
  • Daniel Descalso – 0-for-2
  • David Freese – 0-for-1
  • Matt Holliday – 3-for-10 with two home runs and two walks
  • Jon Jay – 3-for-4 with a walk
  • Yadier Molina – 3-for-18

It is safe to say that Jake Westbrook is off to the best start of his career. Westbrook is one of the many reasons the Cardinals are leading the division. Westbrook has given up his fair share of hits and walks but has allowed only four earned runs over his first five starts of the season.

Westbrook is coming off an excellent outing in Milwaukee. Westbrook limited the high-powered Brewers offense to one run on six hits in six innings. Westbrook walked three and struck out four.

The key to beating Westbrook has always been to wait him out and to not swing at his pitch. So far teams do not appear to be following the scouting report.

Jake Westbrook is 5-2 in eight career starts against the Cubs with a 4.14 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP … at Wrigley Field, 2-1 in three starts with a 6.14 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP. Westbrook was a perfect 2-0 in three starts versus the Cubs last season with a 2.37 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP.

Cubs Career Numbers against Jake Westbrook

  • Darwin Barney – 3-for-16 with a double and a walk
  • Welington Castillo – 1-for-2 with a double
  • Starlin Castro – 7-for-22 with a double and a walk
  • David DeJesus – 9-for-32 with a home run and four walks
  • Scott Hairston – 0-for-1
  • Dioner Navarro – 3-for-11
  • Cody Ransom – 0-for-3
  • Anthony Rizzo – 1-for-3
  • Nate Schierholtz – 1-for-7
  • Alfonso Soriano – 3-for-30 with two walks
  • Ryan Sweeney – 1-for-6
  • Luis Valbuena – 0-for-1 with a walk

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …

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  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Today’s lineup:

    DeJesus – CF
    Castro – SS
    Valbuena – 2B
    Rizzo – 1B
    Schierholtz – RF
    Sweeney – LF
    Navarro – C
    Ransom – 3B
    Villanueva – P

    • paulcatanese

      Makes sense, hope it works.

    • 07GreyDigger

      Neil, might we see more of Valbuena at second if Barney continues to struggle?

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        I don’t think so because of the defense. Barney was working this morning with Sveum as you know. They really value his defense and the way he positions the infielders in the shifts

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      I’d like to see more Borbon…and Sweeney.

      • calicub

        I would as well, but I’d hate for it to be at the expense of Phonzie.. In May! Both for trade value and his offensive production.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          Very good point Cali…

          • calicub

            I’d love to see those guys make DeJesus and Shierholtz redundant and expendable.

            I hope Shierholtz can keep his pace up because with another year of control left, he may net a better return, but unfortunately, I see him falling off a cliff numbers wise the next few months..

            Hairston is my concern. He’s here for 2 years and he’s not off to a good start.

        • paulcatanese

          One point that’s not taken into account, without Soriono in the lineup behind Rizzo, whether he is hot or not, he is always a threat, and definite influence on what and how they pitch to Rizzo.
          And Shierholtz behind Soriono has the same effect with Rizzo, those two makes them pitch to Rizzo, who is starting to heat up.
          This is not about wins or loss’s
          as the Cubs are not going anywhere anyhow, but the development of Rizzo, who the Cubs hope will be a core player.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Totally agree. We need solid protection for Rizzo. And I disagree on Schierholtz Cali. I believe Nate can hit .300 this year. He may not keep up his current pace but I think we’re seeing that he’s an everyday starter in the league.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Fujikawa is expected to throw today with the Smokies. If all goes well, he should be activated from the DL on Friday

    • Ray Ray

      Dolis back down? Or do they cut Camp? What do you think Neil?

  • John_CC

    Carlos has a pretty good career line vs the Birds. Nice to see as it isn’t too common for the Cubs. Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the other Carlos do well against the Cards?

    • calicub

      Carlos.. Carlos? Carlos? ….. Oh! you mean Baby Z?

      12-6 3.52 ERA 1.274 WHI 199.1 IP

      Not to bad for a newly signed Long Island Duck.

      • Ray Ray

        And that memorable game when he imploded and hit Jim Edmonds on purpose the next at bat after taking him deep. One thing about Z…..he was entertaining

        • calicub

          That indeed. One of the more fun games I ever went to was when he threw a 2-hit shut out at the Giants in ’09. Made a young Buster Posey look foolish at the plate all night. I also got to see the Big Unit throw some heat that night.

          For as crappy a teammate he was, he was flat out dominant for nearly 5 years with the Cubs.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            He was the most intimidating pitcher we’ve had since the Wild Thing in his prime.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          That was a classic! Almost as good as the Farnsworth body slam!

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Sveum officially named Kevin Gregg the Cubs’ closer this morning

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Raymond-Robert-Koenig/1295439291 Raymond Robert Koenig

      The kiss of death?

      • paulcatanese

        Only if Rizzo did the kissing, that’s an Italian thing.

        • 07GreyDigger

          Haha. Gregg would make a nice Fredo.

  • Ray Ray

    Travis Wood? Is he someone they should move this trade deadline or someone you believe has taken the next step. It is easy to get caught up with early season success. He has been great no doubt. I like the kids athletic ability and he battles…but last year he was good early as well and had a bad second half. Do you sell high or do you build with him. That is what separates great GM’s from average to below average GM’s. Last year in the second half Travis Wood had a 5.07 ERA and gave up 17 HR’s. Do you believe this will happen again(maybe not to that extreme) or do you believe he has turned the corner. That is why Theo and Jed get paid the big bucks.

    • calicub

      Thats a good and tough question. I’m inclined to hold onto him for the simple reason that he has three more years of team control.

      I’m not the best talent evaluator out there, but based on his numbers, and the fact that he has just over 400 IP in his Major League career, I don’t think its out of the realm of possibilities that this may be a turning point in his career where he may develop into a solid middle of the rotation starter on a contending team. His career ERA does spike from 3.68 to 4.39 in the second half of seasons and his WHIP goes from 1.201 to 1.23. However, his KOs, K/BB and K/9 all increase.

      The fact of the matter is that Wood is improving. In nearly the same amount of innings between Cincy and the Cubs, Wood’s ERA, IP, and WHIP have all improved.

      Also, I don’t see the Cubs getting much for him at this point because its so up in the air as to whether or not he will develop into that starter. If i were another GM, I’d be frightened to give up too much value for him, even with 3yrs of control remaining.

      What do you think Ray?

      • Ray Ray

        The thing that scares me about Wood is the HR ball. As the weather heats up and the ball carries more…..will his second half from last year look similar? Is he a perfect fit for your home ballpark? I would throw his name out there at the deadline and see what his value is. If a GM blows you away, you have an option.

        • calicub

          Good point I agree. Even so far this season the long ball has been his biggest obstacle which i think is due to the fact that he tends to hammer the strike zone later in the game. I think he’d do well in San Francisco with the cold summers and spacious park.

    • 07GreyDigger

      You keep him. He’s a young starter and they have not a lot of depth of that in the minors. He’s also controllable until 2017, so he’ll be relatively cheap too.

    • John_CC

      Keep him.

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      Great question. Depends on the return I think. If you can get a top of the rotation prospect I think you deal him ASAP.

  • willie smith

    valbuena 3rd?……….any manager that bats him 3rd is not long in the profession. cubs may be a bad offensive team, but no way valbuena hits 3rd for iowa…..
    dejesus
    sweeney
    castro
    that would make more sense……….
    has sveum done anything that makes you go “wow”…….

    • calicub

      the last 7 days LV has been batting:

      ready?

      .462/.588/.538 with a sexy .1127 OPS. Plus his BaBIP is .667.

      With a line up so cold, you have to go with the hot hand. I applaud the shake up personally.

      • willie smith

        any team with valbuena as their power hitting corner IF is lousy; any mgr batting him 3rd no matter what little hot streak he is on is lousy.
        we as cubs fans should not applaud this, but ask the bigger question; why is this the best the GM could do and why would any mgr do this?

        • 07GreyDigger

          Because the Cubs plan isn’t really rooted in being a major market team. It’s in developing a minor league system while using their veteran talent as assets to improve their minor league system through trades and draft picks.

          Could have Theo gone out and spent a bazillion dollars on free agents? Yes! But that’s not the way he wants to do it and that’s why we’re watching an inferior team. It’s not going to change anytime soon.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Well said. It is what it is. I believe in a couple of years our system can be the envy of the league. And with our resources we’ll be able to make deadline deals to bolster the club for the postseason without giving up all our good prospects. Think Cardinals, or Braves…

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          They’re rebuilding from the bottom up. They’ve made savvy moves and Valbuena is a solid stopgap until permanent help arrives. And as of now he’s deserving of the 3 hole.

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      For now, why not? He’s hitting as well as anyone.

    • paulcatanese

      I have to say the move is not a permanent one, simply to get the most lefthanders into the lineup, and an experiment on Sveums part.
      Of the other lefties in the lineup Valbuena makes the most sense.
      Can’t put Rizzo there or Shierholtz, but don’t know about Sweeney( maybe pressure) or Navarro (too slow) , so for today it may be the right choice.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Kyuji Fujikawa retired the side in order in the 7th on 6 pitches, 4 strikes … fly out, infield pop up, one bunt attempt

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Fujikawa is going to pitch a second inning

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Kyuji Fujikawa threw 10 pitches, 6 strikes, in the 8th
    inning. Gave up a single, picked runner off 1B, 1 FO, 1 GO. Faced minimum

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Kyuji Fujikawa completed 2 innings in second rehab
    outing on Wednesday. Threw 16 pitches, 10 strikes, 1H, 0BB, 0K, 2 FO, 2 GO. Faced Minimum.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    I’ve got 720 WGN on the internet radio and the game isn’t on. Anyone help?

    • BosephHeyden

      I’m pretty sure MLB doesn’t let WGN radio broadcast games on the internet because it’s a paid service that MLB offers.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        Dang, so it does play locally?

        • BosephHeyden

          I guess that depends on the definition of “locally”. If you’re in an area that picks up 720 AM WGN (which, to my knowledge, stretches pretty far), and have a device that picks up radio signals (car radio, actual radio, anything with an AM/FM tuner), then yes, you can get the game’s radio broadcast. It’s just when you have rely on the internet that the only option becomes MLB internet radio.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Valbuena with a two out single, scores on a Rizzo double and Beltran error … then Rizzo gets thrown out trying to steal third.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Schierholtz with a 2-run double, plated Valbuena and Rizzo

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  • BosephHeyden

    This seems like the type of game where the first team to put in a reliever that can shut things down is going to win.

    • John_CC

      Uh-Oh.

    • John_CC

      Thar She Blows!!!!

  • John_CC

    I was worried about Carlos after the shaky 5th and then being on the bases the entire bottom half. But he comes back with a 10 pitch 6th. Nice work.

  • John_CC

    2 innings in a row the Cubs strand 2.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    A much-needed strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out

  • Ray Ray

    I don’t think Villanueva will ever want to come out of another game he starts. The bullpen has cost him another win. How many is that? 3 or 4?

    • John_CC

      I reckon he will be part of the bullpen pretty soon.

      • GaryLeeT

        That was my pick to go to the pen too. I think I remember that he was even told the pen could be a possibility.

      • Ray Ray

        Which is a shame for him because he should have won every start he made this year…..except 1.

        • John_CC

          True. But he was excellent out of the pen last for the Jays. He’s experienced there. I’m still afraid he could wear down starting, he’s never been able to go a full season starting.

          • Ray Ray

            good point. But if you want to deal him at the deadline they should keep him in rotation. It will be interesting to see what happens at the trade deadline. Hopefully we will see a lot of activity. They have several pitchers and outfielders who could be traded.

          • John_CC

            Here is a good series of articles by Arguello from Cubs Den blog re: Trading pieces. Food for thought.

            http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2013/05/trading-or-building-block-series-part-3-the-veterans/

          • DWalker

            there is also the message sent of sending a performing starter to the pen and letting a struggling starter stay in the rotation.

    • BosephHeyden

      Villanueva probably knows why he was hired: not as a long term (or even short term) solution but as a glorified tryout for other teams for the trade deadline. I would imagine starts like this would likely get him fired up to do better and up his chances of being on a serious playoff contender come July.

  • GaryLeeT

    There was zero doubt Bowden was going to give it up.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    And another wild pitch leads to the go ahead run …

  • John_CC

    Bowden has to be gone when Fujikawa comes back. Right? He’s worse than Marmol.

    • Ray Ray

      Camp needs to go first. He is done.

  • John_CC

    Sure would be nice to see the offense pick up Villanueva right now…

  • John_CC

    Bringing in the lefty to face Rizzo…good move…for us! Matheny must not have read the scouting report.

  • BosephHeyden

    Looks like I was right. Cardinals bullpen shuts down the Cubs offense, and our bullpen gives up the two runs they needed to tie and win it.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs lost 5-4 to the Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon – Carlos Villanueva: 3R, 7H, 3BB, HBP, 2K in 6.2 IP (101 pitches, 56 strikes) … Valbuena:
    1-2, 2BB, 2R; Rizzo: 3-4, 2B, R; Schierholtz: 2-4, 2B, 2RBI, R

  • Brp921

    Has anyone else seen enouph of Navarro behind the plate? There is no way a major league catcher should have let that pitch today get by him. he’s an ok hitter but that’s not what you need in a back up catcher.

    • Ray Ray

      didn’t see the play but I have seen enough of Navarro to know how bad he moves behind the plate. He lets at least one pitch get by him every game that I feel most catchers would stop.

  • paulcatanese

    Another good effort by starting pitchers, oh well, getting used to it.

    Sveum made a good move with the lineup though, 3-4-5 hitters had a fairly good game, and two more walks for Valbuena plus a hit, not a bad day. He as well as Ransom have well been putting the final nail in the coffin that Stewart has been hiding in. Stewart may never see Wrigley field again, and deservedly so.
    Didn’t see the game so I don’t know how Sweeney looked, but assume he had a good game as well.
    The Cubs are getting the pitching, no doubt, and if the right combination can be put on the field, they may yet make some noise (not the division) but the season at least enjoyable to watch.

    • DWalker

      See Stewart cleared waivers, what a shock noone else wanted him. At this point, I don’t see him back at wrigley, and probably not even at iowa for much longer unless he really starts a hitting.

      • Tom U

        I ran a story earlier equating what is happening to Stewart the same thing that happened with Blake DeWitt last season.