Game Twenty-Four: Cubs (10-13) vs. Pirates (11-12)
Game Time – 6:05pm C.T. WCIU, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh
Rich Hill (3-1, 1.57/0.84) vs. Zach Duke (1-2, 6.92/1.80)
Rich Hill has had a tremendous first month of the season and can end it on a positive note tonight with a win in the series opener against the Pirates. Hill was scheduled to pitch on Sunday night in St. Louis but because of the tragic death of Josh Hancock, his start was moved back a day. Hill has been spectacular on the road this year; he is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA in 2 games while striking out 13 and walking 3. For the first time in several weeks the Cubs will turn to Hill to extend a winning streak, not to end a losing streak. Rich Hill has had more success against right-handed batters this season than lefties. He has held righties to just a .127 batting average and a 0.76 WHIP (18 strikeouts and 8 walks) while lefties are hitting .235 with a 1.20 WHIP and a .471 slugging percentage (5 strikeouts and 2 walks). Hill has faced just three different teams in his four starts and the Brewers is the only one of the three to score against Hill (5 runs) in 28 2/3 innings. After a 6 strikeout, no walk performance in his first start of the season against the Brewers, Hill has walked 10 and struck out 17….not the strikeout to walk ratio that Hill is capable of posting.
Rich Hill is 1-0 in 2 career starts against the Pirates with a 1.26 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP while holding the Pirates to a .184 batting average, 3 runs, 2 earned, on 9 hits in 14 1/3 innings with an unbelievable strikeout to walk ratio….20 strikeouts to 4 walks, 5:1. Tonight will be Hill’s first career start at PNC Park. Freddy Sanchez and Jason Bay are a combined 0 for 10 in their career (in limited at bats) against Rich Hill.
The Pirates have dropped their last 2 games after an 11-10 start, including winning their previous 5 in a row. The Pirates were 5-15 after 20 games in 2006 and this is a much-improved team out to prove a point. The Pirates have a dangerous offense but are winning with pitching. The Pirates rank 15th in the NL in batting average (.238), last in OBP (.296), 12th in home runs (17) and 14th in RBI’s (77). In their last 7 games Pirates pitching has allowed 20 runs on 59 hits in 61 innings, a 2.95 ERA.
Zach Duke has been inconsistent in his first five starts of the season. He was dominating on Opening Day against the Astros and allowed just 2 runs on 8 hits in 7 innings. Duke struggled against the Giants (April 13) and the Brewers (April 19th) and allowed a combined 14 earned runs on 18 hits in 6 innings of work in those two starts; the Brewers knocked him out after the 2nd inning. But Duke recovered against the Astros his last time out and gave up just 1 run on 6 hits in 7 innings of work. Duke has had trouble throwing strikes and has walked (5) almost as many as he has struck out this season (6).
Duke has dominated the Cubs in the past and is 4-1 in 6 career starts that includes a complete game shutout. In 45 innings he has held the Cubs to 10 runs, 7 earned, on 39 hits while walking 8 and striking out 22 (1.40 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP). The Cubs finally figured out Duke last August and beat him 7-5 while scoring 5 runs on 9 hits in 6 innings of work. On September 2nd, Duke received a no decision after going 7 strong innings and allowing 1 run on 6 hits.
- Ronny Cedeno – 7-16 with 1 RBI
- Matt Murton – 9-17, 2 doubles, 1 home run and 3 RBI’s
- Aramis Ramirez – 3-15 with 3 doubles
- Alfonso Soriano – 2-5 with a double
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….