Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Braves – 09/20/13

Game One Hundred Fifty-Four: Cubs (64-89) vs. Braves (90-62)

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

Scott Baker (0-0, 0.82/0.55/3.59) vs. Paul Maholm (10-10, 4.35/1.42/4.17)

Weather permitting … The Cubs begin the final stretch of the 2013 season this afternoon with the first of three against the Atlanta Braves. The Cubs have nine games remaining on their schedule and all three series are against teams that are playoff bound. Following the weekend series with the Braves, the Cubs host the Pirates for the last three games of the year at Wrigley. Following a day off on Thursday, the Cubs will spend the last three games of the season in St. Louis taking on the Cardinals.

The Cubs enter play this afternoon with a 29-46 record at Wrigley on the year with six games left on the schedule. The Cubs have not played good ball at home this year and a winning homestand would be a good way to shut Wrigley down for the winter.

Paul Maholm gets the start this afternoon in his first game back at Wrigley since he was dealt to Atlanta last season. Maholm was pitching well for the Braves before injuries derailed his season and his days with the Braves could be numbered. With Maholm on the bump, look for Dale Sveum to run out his right-handed lineup.

The Cubs have not seen the Braves since the second series of the season (April 5 – April 7) in Atlanta. The Braves swept the three game series and the Upton Brothers hit back-to-back homers off Carlos Marmol in the second game that set up the Braves to complete the sweep.

After today’s matchup of Scott Baker and Paul Maholm, Travis Wood is scheduled to face Kris Medlen on Saturday afternoon with Edwin Jackson and Julio Teheran wrapping up the series on Sunday afternoon.

The Braves begin play today with a magic number of two to win the NL East and let’s be realistic here, Atlanta figures to capture the NL East crown this weekend. And that could be a good thing for the Cubs. Back in 2007 when Lou’s Crew celebrated winning the NL Central in the visitor’s clubhouse at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Joey Votto was not happy and said that motivated him to take his game to the next level. Several of the players on the Cubs roster liked playing in playoff-type atmospheres in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh during the last road trip, so maybe seeing the Braves celebrate a division title at Wrigley Field will motivate some of the Cubs’ young players the same way it did Joey Votto six years ago.

Pat Hughes will be back in the booth today calling the game with Keith Moreland and Judd Sirott on 720 WGN.

This afternoon and the final homestand of the season all starts with Scott Baker

Scott Baker makes his third and final start of the season this afternoon. Baker has looked very good in his first two outings and started what could be a brief Cubs’ career with 10 shutout innings. All of the fly balls finally caught up to Baker in Pittsburgh when Jose Tabata took him deep in the sixth. Baker’s velocity increased a little in his last outing and his location was very good once again. Baker took advantage of an aggressive Pirates lineup and should be able to again this afternoon against the Braves.

Baker allowed one run on three hits with no walks and four strikeouts to the Pirates his last time out and is clearly making a case for the Cubs to re-sign him this winter.

Today marks the first time Scott Baker has faced the Atlanta Braves, in a regular season game, in his career.

Braves Career Numbers against Scott Baker

  • B.J. Upton – 2-for-14
  • Gerald Laird – 2-for-10 with a double and a walk
  • Justin Upton – 0-for-5
  • Reed Johnson – 0-for-3 with a walk

Paul Maholm put together a decent year for the Braves and has been solid in Atlanta since the Cubs traded him there last season. The soon-to-be free agent southpaw is coming off a good outing against the Phillies. Maholm allowed two runs on seven this with three walks and five strikeouts in six innings. Maholm received a no-decision in one of his better starts of the second half.

Maholm missed time earlier in the season and had his last start pushed back to this afternoon after undergoing an MRI on his left elbow. The MRI came back negative but many feel due to his inconsistency in the second half, his days in a Braves’ uniform could be numbered, plus he is unlikely to be on their post-season roster.

Paul Maholm is 1-2 in five starts since the break with a 6.04 ERA and a 1.74 WHIP.

Paul Maholm had a lot of success against the Cubs when he was in the Pirates rotation. Maholm faces his former team for the first time since he was traded last July. For his career, Maholm 9-3 in 17 starts against the Cubs with a 5.04 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP.

Cubs Career Numbers against Paul Maholm

  • Starlin Castro (.287) – 9-for-21 with three doubles
  • Darwin Barney (.222) – 3-for-10 with a double
  • Darnell McDonald (.278) – 2-for-9 with a double
  • Dioner Navarro (.305) – 1-for-2 with a double and a walk
  • Nate Schierholtz (.274) – 1-for-3

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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