Game One Hundred Thirty-Five: Cubs (84-50) vs. Phillies (73-61)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Rich Harden (9-2, 2.00/1.03, 4-1, 1.47/0.75) vs. Joe Blanton (6-12, 4.75/1.42, 1-0, 4.03/1.42)
After the dramatic come from behind win on Thursday night, the Cubs will get back to work this afternoon behind Rich Harden in a battle of former Oakland A’s pitchers. When the season began, Joe Blanton was the A’s Opening Day starter and Rich Harden followed. 135 games later the former teammates will square off at Wrigley Field in a very important game for both teams.
The Phillies slipped to a full game behind the Mets on Thursday and with the Brewers just 6 1/2 back and the road trip that is September on the horizon, all of the remaining 28 have equal importance.
Kerry Wood will likely be unavailable for today’s game after pitching four days in a row. Carlos Marmol should pitch the 9th with Jeff Samardzija inserted in the 8th….that is if Rich Harden can do his job and if the Cubs have a lead late in the game. Joe Blanton will make his first career appearance at Wrigley and against the Cubs. Mark DeRosa, Alfonso Soriano and Reed Johnson have faced their former American League foe and have good career numbers against Blanton. It will be interesting to see if Lou Piniella finds a place for Johnson in the starting lineup.
Fasten Those Seatbelts…. Rich Harden has been very good since coming to Chicago and will face a huge test today. Harden has completed 7 innings in his last two starts and has allowed only 1 earned run in his last 3 starts (a solo home run by Austin Kearns). Harden has recorded 23 strikeouts in his last 19 innings and the key to Harden’s longevity in his past two outings….no walks.
Harden is coming off an 11-strikeout performance, and tied a career high that he set earlier this season with the A’s….against the Phillies. Harden threw 8 innings of 2-hit ball on June 26th and struck out 11 with only 1 walk. The 8 shutout innings is a season high and his new team will need a similar performance today in order to win the second game of the series.
Harden will face the Phillies for the second time in his career today.
- Pat Burrell – 0-for-3
- Greg Dobbs – 0-for-7
- Pedro Feliz – 0-for-4
- Ryan Howard – 0-for-3
- Jimmy Rollins – 0-for-3
- Chase Utley – 0-for-3
- Shane Victorino – 2-for-3
- Jayson Werth – 0-for-3
The Cubs were rumored to be interested in Joe Blanton last winter and reportedly Billy Beane was asking for a couple of arms and a couple of legs. The Phillies were able to pry him away at the trade deadline after the Cubs had already worked a deal for Rich Harden. The Phillies were in need of a quality starter. Brett Myers was struggling and in the minors and other than Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer, the Phillies’ rotation was a little thin. Blanton has all of the tools to be a dominating pitcher and has been very good since leaving Oakland.
While Blanton has only 1 win in a Phillies uniform, his team is 5-2 in 7 starts. Blanton was rocked in his first few starts with Philly but is coming off one of his best starts of the year. Blanton held the Dodgers to 1 run on 6 hits in 6 innings with 4 strikeouts and 3 walks.
Blanton is 1-0 in his last 5 starts with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP….on the road this season, 4-3 in 9 starts with a 5.50 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP.
Today will be Blanton’s first career start against the Chicago Cubs.
- Mark DeRosa – 3-for-10 with 2 doubles
- Reed Johnson – 5-for-10 with 2 doubles and a home run
- Alfonso Soriano – 4-for-9 with a double and a triple
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….