Game Fifty: Cubs (29-20) vs. Pirates (23-26)
Game Time – 12:35pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 189
Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh
Ted Lilly (5-4, 4.96/1.27) vs. Paul Maholm (2-5, 5.03/1.57)
The last time the Cubs played 6 road games against division opponents, they limped back to Wrigley with a 2-4 record. Today is the finale of another 6-game road trip against teams in the central….and the Cubs are 2-3 thus far. This is a big game today, not for any other reason besides a good flight back to Chicago with a win under their belt. The Cubs have played a little better than the 2-3 record indicates but 3-3 has a much better ring to it than 2-4.
Ted Lilly will try to earn his first victory of the year against the Bucs while the Cubs will try to beat Paul Maholm for the first time in his career. Look for Henry Blanco to start behind the plate with Geovany Soto catching all 14 innings on Saturday night.
Today is the Cubs last match-up within the division until July 4th against the Cardinals in St. Louis. Starting Monday the Cubs begin a string of 36 straight games against teams in the other two divisions and in the American League. The Cubs enter play today in a virtual tie atop the NL Central with the St. Louis Cardinals…..with the Astros not far behind. Ted Lilly will try for his 5th win of the month today in 5 starts. After struggling in the first month of the season, Lilly has been very sharp in his last 6 starts and has posted a 5-1 record with wins in St. Louis and in Houston.
Lilly won the only game in the series against the Astros and allowed 2 runs on 4 hits with 6 strikeouts and 2 walks in 5 1/3 innings. Lilly struggled with his command but was effective enough to earn the win. Lilly has recorded 27 strikeouts to just 5 walks in his last 3 starts (18 1/3 innings) and in order to post a win today, he must not give the Pirates any additional (free) chances.
Lilly escaped PNC on April 7th with a no decision. The Cubs won that marathon 10-8 and Lilly allowed 5 runs on 7 hits in 3 2/3 innings with 2 walks and a strikeout. For his career, Lilly is 1-0 in 4 starts, 6 games, against the Pirates with a 5.26 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP.
Lou Piniella needs innings, and a quality start, out of Lilly today.
- Jose Bautista – 3-for-13 with a double
- Jason Bay – 2-for-11 with a double
- Adam LaRoche – 2-for-6 with a double
- Nate McLouth – 2-for-3 with a triple
- Jason Michaels – 2-for-2 with a double
- Xavier Nady – 2-for-8
- Ronny Paulino – 6-for-8 with 2 doubles and a home run
- Freddy Sanchez – 3-for-12 with a double
- Jack Wilson – 3-for-9 with a double
Paul Maholm will be glad when the calendar flips to June. After a good start to the season (2-2 in 5 starts with a 3.26 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP) he has been equally as bad in May (0-3 in 4 starts with a 7.33 ERA and a 1.97 WHIP….opponents are hitting .367 against him). His last win was a complete game in Pittsburgh on April 27th against the Phillies….1 run on 2 hits with 4 walks and 2 strikeouts.
While Maholm has struggled of late, he has been just about unhittable at PNC and has never lost to the Cubs. Maholm is 2-1 in 5 starts at home this year with a 2.76 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP….and is 4-0 in 6 career starts against the Cubs with a 6.27 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP. The Cubs hit and score runs, but the Pirates offense always steps up when he is on the mound facing the Cubs.
- Henry Blanco – 2-for-8
- Ronny Cedeno – 1-for-3
- Mark DeRosa – 1-for-7
- Jim Edmonds – 1-for-3
- Derrek Lee – 5-for-16 with a double
- Aramis Ramirez – 5-for-13 with 2 home runs
- Alfonso Soriano – 4-for-10 with 2 home runs
- Geovany Soto – 1-for-2
- Ryan Theriot – 3-for-10 with a double
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….