Game Twenty-Seven: Cubs (14-12) vs. Astros (11-15)
Game Time – 7:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – Minute Maid Park, Houston
Rich Harden (2-1, 5.11/1.42) vs. Mike Hampton (1-2, 4.88/1.45)
Updated – 4:44pm C.T. – The Cubs Made Two Roster Moves – Chad Fox Recalled and Jeff Samardzija Optioned to Iowa
Lou Piniella’s everyday lineup will get back to work tonight in the place the season started. The Cubs open a brief two-games series at the Juice Box before finishing up the 20-game stretch without a day off with a weekend series in Milwaukee…through the first 15, the Cubs are 7-8 but have won four of their last six.
The Cubs won two of three to start the year in Houston and need a winning road trip to keep pace in the very tight NL Central. The Astros are in the cellar looking up at the rest of the division. The Astros’ game against the Nationals on Tuesday was suspended in the eleventh inning by rain and will be resumed in Houston on July 9 with the Nationals serving as the home team. The Astros will be without Jose Valverde for the series and LaTroy Hawkins is closing games for Cecil Cooper in his absence.
The Cubs need a positive road trip and to build on the momentum they created during the homestand…hopefully the split squad and the loss did not cool them off. And it all starts with which Rich Harden will take the mound… Rich Harden is coming off his worst start of the year. Harden lost all command and could not complete four innings against the Marlins. Ryan Theriot bailed him out and Harden must put together one of his dominant starts tonight.
The Astros and Cubs games are typically very close and decided late. The Astros have a very good offense with players such as Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence, Jeff Keppinger and Miguel Tejada who always play their best against the Cubs. Rich Harden and Ted Lilly will have to keep the Astros off the board and give the Cubs offense, which is heating up, time to plate a few runs…and maybe put a few crooked numbers on the board.
Harden has faced the Astros just once in his career and he gave up five runs, four earned, on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings on August 5, 2008 at Wrigley. Harden struck out 8 and walked just one on a very hot day. The Cubs won the game 11-7 and Harden spent a lot of time on the bases that afternoon.
- Geoff Blum – 3-for-7 with a double and a home run
- Darin Erstad – 8-for-29 with a double and three walks
- Jeff Keppinger – 1-for-3
- Carlos Lee – 3-for-12 with a triple
- Kaz Matsui – 1-for-3 with a triple
- Jason Michaels – 0-for-2
- Hunter Pence – 1-for-3
- Ivan Rodriguez – 4-for-11 with a walk
- Miguel Tejada – 0-for-6
Rich Harden is 1-0 in two starts on the road this year with a 2.25 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP.
The Cubs will face a pitcher tonight that had a very successful career against them before injuries derailed his career. Mike Hampton is 9-4 in 23 career games, 19 starts, against the Cubs with a 2.98 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. However, the southpaw has not faced a Cubs team since October 1, 2004. Hampton beat Kerry Wood 5-4 and Dusty Baker’s lineup was: Corey Patterson (CF), Derrek Lee (1B), Aramis Ramirez (3B), Moises Alou (LF), Nomar Garciaparra (SS), Sammy Sosa (RF), Mark Grudzielanek (2B) and Michael Barrett (C)…Jason Dubois, Todd Walker and Jose Macias were used as pinch hitters. But that was then…
Tonight will be Mike Hampton’s sixth start of the season and the Astros are 1-4 in his five starts. Hampton has pitched into the seventh inning only once.
Hampton gave up six runs, five earned, in 4 1/3 innings in his last start against his former organization, the Braves. It was his shortest start of the season. Hampton has not won a game in two starts at Minute Maid (5.11 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP, opponents are hitting .348 against him at home).
The Cubs won their first game against a left starter on Monday and are 1-2 on the season.
- Milton Bradley – 4-for-14 with 2 walks
- Derrek Lee – 7-for-31 with 2 doubles, 3 home runs and 5 walks
- Aaron Miles – 2-for-8 with a walk
- Aramis Ramirez – 3-for-13 with 2 doubles and a walk
- Ryne Sandberg – 2-for-12 with 2 doubles
- Alfonso Soriano – 0-for-2
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….
Update – Chad Fox was added to the Cubs 40-man roster which now stands at 36 players with the addition of Fox and Bobby Scales. Lou Piniella voiced his displeasure with Samardzija’s pitch selection and lack of a second and third pitch on Tuesday. This move is not surprising.
Chad Fox has pitched well for the Iowa Cubs this season.