Game One Hundred Forty-Three: Cubs (86-56) vs. Reds (63-79)
Game Time – 12:15pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 189
Location – Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati
Sean Marshall (3-4, 4.03/1.25) vs. Aaron Harang (4-15, 5.24/1.44)
The Cubs and Reds will face off for the last time this season in the rubber game of the series. After being embarrassed on Friday night, the Cubs bounced back with a lot of offense on Saturday night….but the Reds offense never quit and made the final score much closer than it needed to be. The Reds can score runs in bunches, especially against Cubs pitching and it will be up to Sean Marshall to set the tone and follow Jason Marquis’ quality start with one of his own.
The win on Saturday not only ended the Cubs 6-game losing streak, it guaranteed the Cubs a winning record against the Reds this season. Lou Piniella’s crew is 8-6 versus Dusty Baker and the Redlegs this season….with one important game left to play. The Cubs offense will face a familiar face in Aaron Harang.
Lou Piniella’s shakeup worked on Saturday night. Not only did he receive production from Reed Johnson and Micah Hoffpauir, but from the ‘Big Three‘ as well. According to a report in the Sun-Times, Piniella stated:
“I’m open to production. The people that are getting the job done, they’re the ones that are going to get the bulk of the playing time. I’m talking about pitching-wise and hitting-wise. I have been fair. I’ve given everybody opportunity all year. This is the time now where the people that are getting the job done are the people that are going to play, plain and simple.”
Kosuke Fukudome received the night off as well as Jim Edmonds.
Piniella pulled the right strings on Saturday and apparently the likes of Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez got the message as well. Geovany Soto should receive the day off with a day game following a night game….who will catch Sean Marshall today? Koyie Hill or Henry Blanco?
In other news….Chad Gaudin’s back is not getting any better and he is scheduled to see a doctor on Monday in Chicago for tests. Sean Marshall will make his second consecutive start today filling in for Carlos Zambrano. Marshall started the series finale last Sunday against the Phillies and did not make it out of the 6th inning. After solid starts in St. Louis and Florida, Marshall gave up 5 runs on 9 hits in 5 1/3 innings with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts in a 5-3 loss to Jamie Moyer. Marshall struggled with the dangerous Phillies line-up and dropped his fourth game of the year.
Marshall is 1-4 in 5 games as a starter this season with a 4.82 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP.
Lou Piniella needs the Sean Marshall that picked up a big win back on July 6th in St. Louis and the one that received no run support in a 2-1 loss to the Marlins on August 16th to take the mound today. Marshall held the Cardinals to 1 run on 6 hits in 6 innings and the Fish to 2 runs on 4 hits in 5 innings with a season-high 8 strikeouts. Marshall has the ability to make quality pitches at the Major League level….and with the uncertainty surrounding Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden, a quality start today would not only benefit Marshall but his team.
The last time Marshall faced the Reds was on May 7th at Great American Ball Park. Marshall was one of the three Cubs’ pitchers that surrendered home runs to the Reds. Jon Lieber (4), Marshall (2) and Sean Gallagher (1) served up 7 home runs in a 9-0 Cubs loss. Joey Votto hit three that afternoon, one off Marshall, the other was off the bat of Brandon Phillips. Marshall must keep the ball down and not help the Reds offense with any free passes.
Marshall is 1-0 in 5 career appearances, 1 start, versus the Reds with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. The win was on July 28, 2007 and Marshall gave up 1 run on 6 hits in 6 innings….the Cubs won the game 8-1 at Great American.
- Paul Bako – 1-for-2 with a double
- Edwin Encarnacion – 0-for-3
- Jeff Keppinger – 1-for-3
- Brandon Phillips – 1-for-5 with a home run
- Joey Votto – 1-for-2 with a home run and a walk
The Cubs will get their fourth and final look of the season at Aaron Harang today. The Reds’ ace has not been the same pitcher this year after a relief appearance in San Diego on May 25th. Harang tossed 4 innings out of the pen in an 18-inning marathon loss on just two days rest. Harang dominated the Padres and struck out 9 but he made his next start just three days later and was pummeled by the Pirates.
If Harang pitched for a different team or in a larger market, he would have a couple of Cy Young Awards on his resume, but instead he made himself one of the best pitchers in the league that no one knew about….until this season. Harang has struggled, spent time on the DL and Dusty Baker said he would not give his number one pitcher the opportunity to lose 20 games this season. Harang is just five short of that mark.
It looked as if Harang was returning to form after tossing 6 innings of shutout ball against the Rockies in Colorado on August 22nd but he has dropped his last two games. Harang gave up 3 runs on 7 hits in 7 innings with 9 strikeouts to the Astros and then allowed 3 runs on 5 hits in 6 innings with 4 strikeouts and 2 walks to the Pirates his last time out. The numbers were better….but the Cubs must be patient and make him work today.
Harang is 1-4 in 5 starts since the break with a 7.52 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP while teams have hit .318 against him.
Harang is 0-3 in 3 games against the Cubs this season with a 7.27 ERA and a 1.79 WHIP.
Cubs’ numbers versus Harang this season:
- Ronny Cedeno – 1-for-3
- Mark DeRosa – 1-for-4 with a home run and a walk
- Jim Edmonds – 0-for-1 with a walk
- Mike Fontenot – 2-for-5 with a double and a home run
- Kosuke Fukudome – 2-for-6 with 2 walks
- Derrek Lee – 1-for-7 with a home run and 3 walks
- Aramis Ramirez – 2-for-7 with a triple and a walk
- Alfonso Soriano – 1-for-4
- Geovany Soto – 2-for-7 with a home run and a walk
- Ryan Theriot – 4-for-9 with a double and a walk
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….