Game Ninety-Nine: Cubs (58-40) vs. Diamondbacks (48-50)
Game Time – 8:40pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Chase Field, Phoenix
Rich Harden (5-1, 2.19/1.17 – 0-0, 0.00/1.50) vs. Randy Johnson (6-7, 5.23/1.41)
Lou Piniella’s crew will make their last trip out west of the regular season tonight when they open a 3-game series with the Diamondbacks behind Rich Harden. The Diamondbacks are tied with the Dodgers atop of the NL West with a sub .500 record and will be looking to return the favor to the Cubs from earlier in the season. The Cubs swept the D’Backs at Wrigley in May when many thought Arizona was the best team in the league.
The Cubs are in the middle of a difficult stretch of games and this is a big series for an organization that has not won too may games in Phoenix over the last ten years. The Cubs need to win this series and finish the 6-game road trip on a positive note.
Alfonso Soriano began a rehab stint in Arizona earlier on Monday. Soriano participated in a rookie league game in Peoria (Spring Training complex of the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners) about 45 minutes northwest of Phoenix and a report in the Tribune stated there was an outside possibility he could be activated in time for tonight’s game….but Paul Sullivan said Soriano would more than likely be activated on Wednesday after he played in a game on Tuesday with the I-Cubs in Tucson.
Also, the blister on Kerry Wood’s right hand may lead the Cubs’ closer to be placed on the DL for the 12th time in his career. According to a report in the Tribune, if Wood is placed on the DL it would be retroactive until July 12th and he would be eligible to return on Sunday….and Carlos Marmol would be the closer in Arizona and for the first three games of the Marlins series. Rich Harden will make his second start tonight for the Chicago Cubs after an impressive debut at Wrigley on July 12th. Harden threw 5 1/3 shutout innings, gave up only 5 hits, walked 3 and struck out 10. Harden displayed very good command and nasty stuff….exactly the pitcher the Cubs traded for. Harden needs to cut down on the walks tonight and complete at least 6 innings for the first time since June 26th.
Harden was 2-1 in 5 road starts with the A’s with a 3.38 ERA and a 1.31 WHIP.
Tonight will be Harden’s first career start against the Diamondbacks.
- Tony Clark – 1-for-3 with a double
- Orlando Hudson – 2-for-8
The Cubs will face Randy Johnson for the first time this season….and maybe the last time in his Hall of Fame career. Johnson is still a dominating figure on the mound but at 44 years old, is not as consistent as in the past. Johnson is 10 wins short of 300 and picked up career victory number 290 in his last start against the Phillies on July 12th. The Big Unit gave up 4 runs on 5 hits in 6 innings with a walk and 3 strikeouts. In his previous start against the Padres, it was vintage Randy Johnson….1 run on 3 hits in 6 1/3 innings with 10 strikeouts and no walks.
Randy Johnson was scheduled to face Carlos Zambrano in the series finale at Wrigley back on May 11th but the questionable weather forced both Bob Melvin and Lou Piniella to go with Edgar Gonzalez and Sean Gallagher. The Cubs won the game 6-4 and swept the Diamondbacks.
Johnson is 4-3 in 9 home starts this season with a 6.43 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP while opponents have hit a robust .306 against him.
The Cubs have never beaten Randy Johnson and not only have they lost to him for the past 20 years, but they have been dominated by arguably the third best southpaw in the history of the game.
Johnson is 12-0 in 13 career starts against the Cubs with 3 complete games, including a complete game shutout, with a 1.98 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP.
- Henry Blanco – 4-for-14 with a home run
- Mark DeRosa – 1-for-10
- Jim Edmonds – 6-for-25 with 2 doubles, 2 home runs and 4 walks
- Reed Johnson – 5-for-12 with a double
- Derrek Lee – 4-for-22 with 13 strikeouts
- Aramis Ramirez – 3-for-17 with a home run and 12 strikeouts
- Carlos Zambrano – 1-for-3
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….