Game Thirty-Five: Cubs (19-15) vs. Diamondbacks (23-12)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Ted Lilly (2-4, 5.97/1.41) vs. Dan Haren (4-1, 3.12/0.99)
Updated – 11:41am C.T. – Scott Eyre Activated – Sean Marshall Optioned to Triple-A
The Cubs start their longest homestand of the year today with the first of three against the best team in the National League. After posting a 17-10 record in April, the Cubs have won only twice in seven games to start the new month. The last time the Diamondbacks were in Chicago they completed a 3-game sweep of Lou Piniella’s crew that unceremoniously ended the 2007 campaign. While the Cubs have appeared flat and out of sync for the last two weeks, if they are not fired up for this weekend’s series….Lou has more problems on his hands than anyone realizes.
Piniella will send his top three pitchers to the mound this weekend and the Cubs’ offense will face a test today in Dan Haren. This is a big series for the Cubs, after the way they played against the Diamondbacks last year, both in the regular season and in the playoffs. Dave Kaplan called this weekend ‘gut check‘ time for the Cubs….and if Lou’s crew wants to be the best, they first have to beat the best. This is an important homestand for the Cubs. The next 10 games will feature visits from not only Arizona but the San Diego Padres and the Pittsburgh Pirates….the Cubs other extended homestand of the season is not until the first of August (August 1st – August 10th) and it is only 9 games. They have played solid ball at Wrigley this year (11-6) and after a good start, have struggled on the road of late (8-9).
The Cubs had a rough road trip and hopefully they let it all go on Thursday and will report to the park today ready to play.
The last time Ted Lilly faced the Diamondbacks there was that whole glove throwing incident and after a rough start to the season, Lilly has pitched the way he did before his little temper tantrum in the desert. Lilly has turned in 3 quality starts in a row and with Rich Hill pitching for Iowa, Lilly is the only southpaw in Piniella’s rotation….at least for now.
Lilly picked up the win in the Cubs’ only victory last weekend in St. Louis. Lilly gave up 3 runs, 2 on solo home runs, on 6 hits in 7 innings with 4 strikeouts and a walk.
Lilly has not posted a win in 4 career regular season games, 2 starts, against the Diamondbacks. Lilly is 0-2 with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP.
- Chris Burke – 3-for-9 with a double and a triple
- Eric Byrnes – 4-for-14 with a double and a home run
- Stephen Drew – 1-for-2
- Conor Jackson – 1-for-2 with a home run
- Justin Upton – 1-for-2
- Chris Young – 0-for-3
The Cubs will get their first look at Dan Haren in a Diamondbacks uniform. Haren has given Arizona the best number two pitcher in the league after coming over in a trade from the Oakland A’s this past winter. He has been exactly what Bob Melvin was hoping for and the duo of Brandon Webb and Dan Haren have posted a combined 12-1 record in the first 35 games.
As good as Haren as been, his success has been mostly at home. Haren is 4-0 in 5 starts at Chase Field with a 1.93 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP….but on the road, he is 0-1 in 2 starts with a 6.75 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. While teams are hitting below the Mendoza Line against Haren in Arizona, .188, they are hitting a robust .302 when Haren is pitching on the road.
Haren will make his third career start against the Cubs’ franchise. He faced the Cubs once in 2003 and once in 2004….both times at Wrigley. Haren has not fared too well at the Friendly Confines….0-1 in 2 starts with a 12.46 ERA, a 2.31 WHIP and the Cubs hit .410 against him.
- Mark DeRosa – 2-for-8
- Reed Johnson – 3-for-13 with a triple
- Derrek Lee – 1-for-4 with a double
- Aramis Ramirez – 2-for-4 with a double
- Alfonso Soriano – 5-for-13 with 2 doubles and 2 home runs
Update – According to a report on Cubs.com, the Cubs have activated Scott Eyre from the 15-day DL and optioned Sean Marshall to Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs are wanting to stretch out Marshall for a possible return to the rotation. In other news, Kevin Hart made his second start for the I-Cubs on Thursday night. The most important stat…..no walks and 6 strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….