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 …