Game One Hundred Fifty-Four: Cubs (80-73) vs. Pirates (66-87)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T. Comcast SportsNet, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 186
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Jason Marquis (12-8, 4.07/1.31) vs. Paul Maholm (10-15, 4.76/1.38)
Only 9 games left…. The Cubs open their final homestand of the regular season against the Pittsburgh Pirates today. While the Cubs have won 7 of their last 9, the Pirates have lost 6 in a row and are 3-7 since winning the series in Pittsburgh against the Cubs. The Pirates have been trouble for the Cubs all season. Lou Piniella’s crew is just 5-7 in the season series and it will not get any easier for the Cubs this weekend. The Cubs struggles against southpaws this year have been well documented, a 16-22 record, and they will face three lefties this weekend they have a beaten only twice in 15 games (2-10).
In other news from around the league…. Ben Sheets has a hamstring strain. He is still penciled in for Sunday against the Braves but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel mentioned Sheets could miss the remainder of the season. Albert Pujols is likely done for the year with a strained left calf. Ken Griffey, Jr.’s season is over after suffering a high left groin strain on Wednesday night at Wrigley.
Lou Piniella set the rotation for the last 9 games of the year and mentioned Jason Marquis would start game #163 if necessary. Rich Hill, Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly will start the final three games of the season against the Reds.
Amy Freeze from Fox News Chicago sent the CCO a link to a very good story she did about the field and weather conditions at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs offense must be patient today and make Paul Maholm work. He is close to a career high in innings pitched and is coming off his worst start of the year after a back injury sidelined him for three weeks. While the offense must take advantage of every scoring chance possible, it all starts with Jason Marquis. Lou Piniella mentioned on Thursday Geovany Soto could receive more playing time down the stretch in order to get a little more power in the back of the lineup. Soto has played well and considering he caught Jason Marquis’ last outing, today might be a good day to give the young catcher another start.
Jason Marquis is coming off a win against his former team. Marquis held the Cardinals to 1 run on 5 hits in 6 1/3 innings with 4 strikeouts and 2 walks. The lone run Marquis was charged scored after Piniella lifted him for Carlos Marmol. Marquis is 2-0 in his last 4 starts with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. In his last 25 innings, Marquis has struck out 14 and walked 4. The Cubs need a solid performance from Marquis today.
Marquis is 2-1 in 3 starts against the Pirates this year that includes a complete game shutout on May 9th. The last time he faced the Bucs on July 6th in Pittsburgh he gave up 6 runs on 8 hits in 4 2/3 innings. For the year Marquis has a 2.91 ERA (7 runs in 21 2/3 innings) with a 0.83 WHIP against the Pirates.
Paul Maholm is one of several fine young left handed pitchers on the Pirates staff. Maholm was 3-1 in 5 starts in August with a 3.60 ERA but could not complete 3 innings his last time out against the Astros. Maholm missed three weeks due to tightness in his lower back before his last outing. The Astros touched him up for 10 runs on 11 hits in 2 2/3 innings with 1 strikeout.
Maholm has never lost to the Chicago Cubs. He is 4-0 in 5 career starts (2-0 this season) with a 4.94 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. Maholm has gotten better over the course of the season but suffered a setback with the injury. The Cubs must not allow him to get comfortable on the mound today….
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….