Game One Hundred Fifty-One: Cubs (61-89) vs. Phillies (77-72)
Game Time – 6:05pm C.T. Comcast Sports Net, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 184, 190
Location – Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia
Sean Marshall (5-9, 5.34) vs. Jon Lieber (8-9, 4.87)
The Cubs start their last road trip of the season tonight against Ryan Howard and the Phillies. The road trip will continue on Friday in Cincinnati with a 4-game set that will conclude next Monday, the Cubs will also get their first day off in 20 days, in between cities, on Thursday. Sean Marshall will have his hands full against a Phillies team that is just a game back of the Dodgers in the Wild Card race….and a team that features one of the most exciting young players in the game, Ryan Howard. Howard hit his 57th home run of the season on Sunday in Houston and is just 4 short of tying Roger Maris’ record of 61. Sean Marshall is scheduled to take the hill tonight and improve on his last start. Marshall started the 6-error game last Tuesday against the Dodgers. The Cubs rallied back, beat the Dodgers and bailed out what looked like would be Marshall’s 10th loss of the year. Marshall pitched better than his line indicates from that game but has not thrown the ball effectively in his last 2 starts. Marshall was a victim of a horrible defensive team early in the season but he has not pitched with the confidence that made him successful early in the season. While Marshall has had trouble throwing strikes his seeming unwillingness to challenge hitters on a regular basis is alarming. Marshall appears to be trying to “throw the perfect pitch” which is causing him to fall behind hitters and the result has been home runs and walks. Marshall has given up 9 home runs in his last 5 starts and 5 in his last 13 1/3 innings while walking 8 and giving up 18 hits in the same span. Marshall must regain his confidence and become more aggressive on the mound if he wants to compete for a starting job next season.
Sean Marshall will face former Cub Jon Lieber who has already beaten the Cubs this season. Lieber held the Cubs to just 3 runs on 11 hits back on August 21st and struck out 6. Lieber has pitched very well down the stretch for the Phillies and is one of the reasons they are in the playoff hunt. Lieber has not lost a game since August 5th against the Mets and is 4-1 in his last 8 starts with a 2.83 ERA but the most impressive stat is that he has not walked a single batter in his last 20 2/3 innings and has only walked 4 in his last 57 1/3 while striking out 36.
Let’s Talk Cubbies Baseball….