Game One Hundred Nineteen: Cubs (71-47) vs. Braves (55-63)
Game Time – 12:10pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 188
Location – Turner Field, Atlanta
Jason Marquis (7-7, 4.73/1.44) vs. Charlie Morton (3-5, 5.70/1.43)
Let’s Play Two – Game One
Game Two Scheduled to start at 6:10pm C.T. – Rich Harden vs. Jorge Campillo
After a big win on Sunday night, a day off on Monday and rain on Tuesday night, Ernie Banks should be happy but today poses a difficult challenge for the Cubs. The Cubs and Braves are scheduled to play a day-night doubleheader with the first game scheduled for a 12:10pm C.T. start. Jason Marquis will start the first game instead of Rich Harden while Bobby Cox will send Charlie Morton to the mound in the first of two. Marquis has never beaten the organization that drafted him with a supplemental pick in the 1996 draft and has a robust ERA to prove it.
Lou Piniella’s crew will face a team in Atlanta with a Braves’ uniform on but a team with a much different roster from the one they swept in Chicago in the second week in June (June 10 – June 12). Mark Teixeira was traded to the Angels for Casey Kotchman and injuries have decimated the Braves this season and their record shows it. At one point in this year, the Braves had the best home record in the game.
The Braves a 5-5 in the last 10 and Piniella must keep his team focused. They will face a very hot Jorge Campillo tonight and Tom Glavine on Thursday plus every team will be looking to knock the Cubs out of first place. The Cubs struggles on the road this season are well-documented, 26-30, but have won their last 5 in a row away from Wrigley.
With the rainout on Tuesday night, the Cubs will play 6 games in the next 5 days….weather permitting. The weatherman is calling for a 60% chance of rain this morning in Atlanta and clearing out as the day progresses. The night game should go off without a hitch, but could be a little delayed. The forecast for Thursday is a cool 86 degrees and sunny. As far as Miami this weekend, chance of rain everyday with highs in the upper 80s to low 90s. The Cubs difficult road trip was made even more challenging with the rainout and the Brewers picking up a game in the past two days. Milwaukee is just 3 games back of the Cubs while St. Louis is 7 behind at the beginning of play today.
In other news…. According to several reports Lou Piniella has put Kosuke Fukudome “on notice” and sent a message to his right fielder through the press that he either starts hitting or risk losing playing time to Reed Johnson and Mike Fontenot. Piniella is thinking of running Mark DeRosa out to right to get playing time for Fontenot or substituting Johnson in right for the struggling Fukudome who is just 3-for-28 this month.
Ron Santo will not be broadcasting with Pat Hughes on this road trip. Santo made the announcement on Sunday he would be taking the next week off. Santo said he felt great but with the team traveling to the always hot Atlanta and Miami, he felt it was better for him to remain in Chicago and rejoin Pat Hughes when the Cubs open a 3-game series at Wrigley against Dusty Baker and the new-look Reds on August 19th.
And finally…. A 104-year old Cubs’ fan would like to throw out the first pitch at Wrigley if the Cubs make the playoffs. Jason Marquis was scheduled to start tonight’s game so he will be pitching on regular rest this afternoon….and hopefully he will be focused enough to post his first victory against the Braves and start the road trip, as well as the day, out on a positive note.
Marquis is coming off his first win since the third week in June against the Astros in the series finale last Wednesday. Marquis was the benefactor of a Mark DeRosa Grand Slam and a 3-run home run by Alfonso Soriano….an even drove in a run with a double in the 8-run 3rd inning. Marquis settled down after allowing 4 runs in the 3rd inning and picked up his 7th victory of the season. Marquis was very ‘Marquis-like‘ for the first 4 innings of the game….inconsistent. Lou Piniella was able to leave him in after the offensive explosion and Marquis rewarded his manager’s patience by eating up a few more innings in a game he appeared headed for an early shower.
Piniella needs Marquis to pitch the way he is capable today and shake the second half struggles he is starting to display.
Marquis is 3-3 in 9 road starts this season with a 3.50 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP.
As mentioned, Jason Marquis has never beaten the Atlanta Braves. He is 0-3 in 4 starts with a 14.04 ERA (that is not a typo) and a 2.40 WHIP (again not a typo) while the Braves have hit .407 against him (for the third time, not a typo)….at Turner Field, 7-10 in 49 games, 21 starts, with a 4.99 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP. Last season, 0-1 in one start with a 10.80 ERA and a 4.20 WHIP. Marquis lasted just 1 2/3 innings on June 9th in Atlanta and gave up 6 runs, 2 earned, on 4 hits with a strikeout and 3 walks.
- Yunel Escobar – no official at bat, 1 walk
- Jeff Francoeur – 1-for-5
- Kelly Johnson – 1-for-5
- Chipper Jones – 4-for-6 with 3 home runs
- Brian McCann – 1-for-5 with a walk
Charlie Morton will make his first career start against the Chicago Cubs this afternoon. Morton has performed adequately thus far in his first go around through the majors….but the Cubs might be picking the wrong time to face him for the first time. The Cubs have struggled in recent memory facing pitchers they had little to no history against. While Morton struggled early on, he has been very good of late.
Morton was 1-3 in 5 starts in July with a 9.53 ERA and a 1.90 WHIP but in his last 2 starts he was 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP while holding opponents to a .180 average….a huge improvement from the .309 average the opposition hit against him in July.
Morton has yet to win at Turner Field and is 0-4 in 5 starts with a 8.39 ERA and a 1.74 WHIP. He held the Brewers to 2 runs on 4 hits in 7 innings with a walk and 4 strikeouts on August 2nd but CC Sabathia beat him 4-2.
In his last start in Arizona, Morton tossed 7 innings of shutout ball and surrendered just 5 hits with a walk and 4 strikeouts….
If Morton gets comfortable on the mound….it could be a long afternoon for the Cubs’ offense.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….