Game Forty-Eight: Cubs (18-29) vs. Braves (25-23)
Game Time – 12:20pm C.T. Fox, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 189
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Sean Marshall (3-2, 5.29) vs. Horacio Ramirez (0-0, 15.00)
The Cubs look to rookie Sean Marshall to end their 4-game losing streak today against Horacio Ramirez and the Atlanta Braves on Fox’s Game of the Week. Ramirez is scheduled to make his first start for the Braves since April 5th in Los Angeles when he gave up 5 runs on 8 hits in 3 innings of work. Ramirez is coming off a strained left hamstring injury, but pitched a 3-hit shutout against the Cubs last July. Sean Marshall is looking to rebound from his last start against the Marlins when he gave up 7 runs in 3 1/3 innings last Monday in Florida. The Cubs need him to return to his early season form. Marshall has pitched very well for the Cubs and in his 9 starts they have only lost 2 of those games. Like the rest of the staff walks have hurt Marshall as of late, in his last 4 starts Marshall has allowed 16 free passes compared to 8 in his previous 5….all Cub victories. Marshall has not benefited from the warmer weather and opponents are hitting .242 against him in the month of May and .214 for the season.
The Cubs need for the top of the order to be productive today. Aramis Ramirez, Michael Barrett and Jacque Jones have been hitting the ball extremely well of late, but runs are still few and far between. In the last 4 games the top two hitters in the Cubs lineup (Pierre – 4gms, Cedeno – 2gms, Perez – 1gm, Hairston – 1gm) are 4 for 34 (.118) with 1 run scored, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts and have left 16 on base. Two of those hits came in the first game of the Marlins series by Juan Pierre and the other two came on Friday. In the past 4 games the “table-setters” for the Cubs have been on base a grand total of five times. Pierre has struggled all season and must start getting on base on a consistent basis. Several times on Friday alone, the Cubs would have benefited by him being on in front of Todd Walker and Michael Barrett.
Marshall needs to give the Cubs a quality start today and allow the bullpen to get some rest. With Kerry Wood’s start being moved until Monday, the Cubs have yet to announce who will be taking the hill against John Smoltz on Sunday and a rested pen is a necessity heading into Sunday and Monday.
The Cubs did announce on Friday that Mark Prior will make a rehab start on Monday or Tuesday for the Peoria Chiefs (A) against the Kane County Cougars (Oakland A’s) in Peoria. Some question….is Prior a case of too little too late and the only way the Cubs will know for sure is to put some wins up on the board.
Let’s Talk Cubbies Baseball….