Game Forty-Five: Cubs (27-17) vs. Astros (25-20)
Game Time – 6:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: ESPN, Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 174, 183
Location – Minute Maid Park, Houston
Ted Lilly (4-4, 5.33/1.28) vs. Brian Moehler (1-0, 4.58/1.58)
The Cubs open a big 3-game series in Houston tonight against the surprising Astros. Many picked the Astros to finish near the bottom of the NL Central but they open play tonight in 3rd place only 2 1/2 games behind the Cubs. While the Astros’ have questions surrounding their starting rotation, nothing is wrong with their high-powered offense….especially Lance Berkman. Other than Alfonso Soriano, Berkman is the hottest hitter in the game and the additions of Miguel Tejada and Kaz Matsui have given Cecil Cooper a very potent offense.
Unlike the past few years, the Cubs are a much better team at Wrigley than on the road. Lou Piniella’s crew is 19-8 at home and just 8-9 on the road and with the lopsided schedule they were handed, the Cubs must improve their record away from Wrigley to stay at the top of the division. The Cubs are 16-11 against the rest of the Central Division (8-1 against the Pirates) and in order to win the division, as the saying goes….you must beat the teams within your own division. After finishing with a 2-4 record the last time they hit the road (St. Louis and Cincinnati), the Cubs need to reverse their fortune against two more division rivals.
Ted Lilly has turned his season around after a horrible start. After beginning the season 1-4 in his first 6 starts with a 6.46 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP, Lilly is 3-0 in his last 3 starts with a 3.60 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. In his last 13 innings, Lilly has struck out 21 batters and walked only 3. In order for Lilly to beat the Astros tonight, he must not give them any help. The Astros can score at will and it is up to Lilly to keep throwing strikes and let his defense make the plays.
Lilly is 1-1 in 3 career starts against the Astros with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP….last year, 1-0 in 2 starts with a 2.57 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP. Tonight will be Lilly’s second career start at Minute Maid Park. Lilly lost his first start in Houston back on June 10, 2005 and gave up 4 runs on 7 hits in 6 innings. He allowed 3 home runs (Wily Taveras, Jason Lane and Morgan Ensberg) in a 4-2 Blue Jays loss to the Astros.
- Lance Berkman – 1-for-8
- Darin Erstad – 2-for-21 with a double
- Carlos Lee – 3-for-19 with 2 doubles
- Mark Loretta – 5-for-17 with 2 doubles and 2 home runs
- Hunter Pence – 0-for-4
- Miguel Tejada – 3-for-24 with a double and 4 walks
- Ty Wigginton – 1-for-4
Brian Moehler stepped into the Astros’ rotation when Wandy Rodriguez went to the DL. Moehler has responded quite well and will make his third start of the year tonight….his first at home. Moehler is 1-0 as a starter with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP with 7 strikeouts and only 1 walk.
Moehler put together a very good 5-inning start against the Dodgers in L.A. back on May 9th. He did not allow a run, gave up 5 hits and struck out a season-high 5 batters. Moehler received a no decision in San Francisco his last time out in a 6-3 Astros’ win….3 runs on 8 hits in 5 innings.
Tonight will be Moehler’s fourth career start against the Cubs. In 6 previous games, he is 1-0 with a 3.91 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. In his first 2 starts this year, Moehler has pitched just 5 innings, the Cubs must continue being patient at the plate and make him work.
- Ronny Cedeno – 1-for-4
- Mark DeRosa – 0-for-2
- Jim Edmonds – 11-for-32 with 4 doubles, 5 home runs and 4 walks
- Derrek Lee – 1-for-2 with a home run
- Aramis Ramirez – 3-for-11 with a double and a triple
- Alfonso Soriano – 4-for-7 with a double
The Cubs took 2 of 3 from the Astros in their first meeting of the year at Wrigley back in April (April 4 – April 6) and Cecil Cooper’s club will be looking to return the favor.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….