Game Fifteen: Cubs (8-6) vs. Cardinals (11-5)
Game Time – 7:15pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Busch Stadium, St. Louis
Ryan Dempster (1-0, 5.00/1.44) vs. Adam Wainwright (2-0, 3.31/1.59)
Updated – 8:26pm C.T. – Aramis Ramirez left game in the fifth with a left calf strain
Lou Piniella’s crew opens a six-game road trip with the first of three in St. Louis tonight behind Ryan Dempster. The Cubs enter the series two games back of the division leading Cardinals…who just came off a three-game sweep of the Mets.
After the first three weeks of the season, the Cardinals are proving to be the class of the Central. The Cardinals play the game the right way on a daily basis and it is rare to find them not prepared to play…and it helps having the best player in the game in the middle of the lineup.
The Cubs need to get back to work and just play the game. Lou Piniella has a better team than was on display in the final two games of the Reds series…and it all starts with the fundamentals. The Cubs are 8-0 in games they do not commit an error, and 0-6 when they make at least one.
Lou Piniella said following Thursday’s loss that he would tweak the lineup tonight…let Lou’s Lineup Tinkering begin. Reed Johnson will start in center while Kosuke Fukudome will return to right field. The Cubs need defense in the outfield and will use Micah Hoffpauir off the bench in at least game one of the series. Ryan Dempster will face the Redbirds for the second time in a week. Dempster started the game last Saturday that Aramis Ramirez finished. Angel Guzman earned his first career big league victory and the Cubs beat the Cardinals for the second day in a row on a dramatic home run…but that was then.
Ryan Dempster stuck out it through six innings and allowed four runs on four hits with four walks and four strikeouts. Dempster was rolling right along until the third inning, then stumbled before getting back on track.
After his first start of the year, Dempster has struggled with his command and like the Ryan Dempster of old has had one bad inning in each of his last two starts.
One of the things that made Dempster so successful last year was his ability to throw strikes. Dempster cut down on his walks and limited his pitch counts which in turn allowed him to go deeper in games…Dempster must return to that form, and soon.
In 18 innings (three starts) he has walked 10 batters and given up 16 hits, simply put, too many base runners to win consistently in the big leagues.
Last year Dempster was 2-0 against the Cardinals in three starts with a 2.89 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP…at Busch Stadium, a no-decision in one start, three runs on seven hits in seven innings with two walks and six strikeouts.
- Rick Ankiel – 1-for-7
- Brian Barden – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Chris Duncan – 2-for-6 with a triple and a walk
- Khalil Greene – 2-for-12 with a home run and a walk
- Ryan Ludwick – 7-for-13 with 2 doubles and a home run
- Yadier Molina – 4-for-15 with 2 walks
- Albert Pujols – 8-for-32 with a double, 2 home runs and 4 walks
- Skip Schumaker – 8-for-21 with a double
Adam Wainwright posted the only win for the Cardinals last weekend at Wrigley…and he will try to post back-to-back victories against the same team in consecutive starts.
The Cubs offense got to Wainwright and scored four runs on six hits in six innings with four walks and six strikeouts…his worst start of the year. The Cardinals won the game 7-4 after Kahlil Green tied the game in the sixth with a solo home run off Aaron Heilman. The Cardinals scored a pair off of David Patton (and Neal Cotts) in the seventh and tacked on in the eighth against Angel Guzman. Figure Wainwright to be back on track tonight.
Last Thursday’s victory was only the second of Wainwright’s career against the Cubs. He is 2-3 lifetime in seven starts, 16 games, with a 6.08 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP.
Wainwright has allowed only two earned runs in two starts at Busch Stadium this season…the Cubs offense will have to be patient and an early run or two is exactly what they need in order to relax and just play ball.
- Milton Bradley – 0-for-1 with a suspension
- Mike Fontenot – 3-for-8 with a double
- Kosuke Fukudome – 2-for-6 with a double and a home run
- Joey Gathright – 0-for-2
- Koyie Hill – 0-for-3
- Micah Hoffpauir – 1-for-4
- Derrek Lee – 3-for-16 with a double and 5 walks
- Aramis Ramirez – 9-for-23 with 3 doubles, a home run and 3 walks
- Alfonso Soriano – 4-for-15 with a double, a triple and 4 walks
- Geovany Soto – 2-for-6 with a double
- Ryan Theriot – 7-for-20 with 2 doubles and a walk
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….