Game Twenty-Eight: Cubs (15-12) vs. Astros (11-16)
Game Time – 7:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185
Location – Minute Maid Park, Houston
Ted Lilly (3-2, 3.13/0.98) vs. Russ Ortiz (2-0, 5.21/1.79)
Lou Piniella’s crew will try to sweep the two-game series in Houston tonight behind Ted Lilly…before heading to Milwaukee to face the red-hot Brewers over the weekend.
Derrek Lee’s status for tonight’s game and the remainder of the road trip is uncertain. Lee was in Piniella’s original lineup on Wednesday night but went to his manager and said he could not go…Lee was hitting third. If Derrek Lee is removing himself from the lineup, he is hurting and the bulging disk in his neck could be a lot more serious than first thought.
The Cubs are not planning on placing him on the DL but his availability could affect Friday’s roster move. It was thought the Cubs would send down Bobby Scales to make room for Randy Wells to take Carlos Zambrano’s start on Friday, but according to the Tribune, not so fast. Scales might stay with the team…the Tribune did not say which player could be sent down instead.
If the bullpen continues to walk batter after batter, the next change could involve bringing up Jeff Stevens from Iowa according to the Tribune. Stevens was acquired in the Mark DeRosa deal from the Indians and has pitched rather well in Triple-A.
In 10 games, Stevens has not allowed an earned run and has surrendered only four hits in 13 innings with 13 strikeouts and three holds. The only negatives…seven walks and he hit a batter. Ted Lilly will face the Astros for the second time on the young season. Lilly made his season debut against the Astros on April 8 (third game of the year) and was the beneficiary of a lot of run support. The Cubs won the game 11-6 and Ted Lilly gave up four solo home runs (five runs on eight hits in five innings without a walk and three strikeouts). Since then, only two home runs surrendered by Lilly in four starts.
Ted Lilly has been Lou Piniella’s most consistent pitcher this season…despite the Cubs being only 3-2 in games he’s started.
‘The Bulldog‘ tossed an eight-inning gem in his last start. The Cubs beat the Marlins 6-1 and Lilly surrendered only one run on five hits in eight innings with 10 strikeouts and no walks.
As good as Lilly has been at Wrigley this season, he’s been equally as bad on the road. In two starts outside of the Friendly Confines he is 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA and a 1.80 WHIP while opponents have hit .326 against him.
Lilly is 4-1 in seven career starts against Houston with a 3.25 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP.
- Lance Berkman – 2-for-19 with a home run and a walk
- Geoff Blum – 3-for-11 with a double and 2 walks
- Michael Bourn – 1-for-5
- Darin Erstad – 2-for-25 with a double and 2 walks
- Jeff Keppinger – 7-for-18 with a double, a home run and a walk
- Carlos Lee – 6-for-27 with 3 doubles, a home run and 3 walks
- Kaz Matsui – 2-for-9 with a triple, a home run and a walk
- Jason Michaels – 2-for-5 with a double and a walk
- Hunter Pence – 2-for-14
- Ivan Rodriguez – 6-for-20 with a double, 3 homes and a walk
- Miguel Tejada – 7-for-36 with 2 doubles and 4 walks
The Cubs will face Russ Ortiz for the second time this season. Ortiz pitched in relief of Brian Moehler in the third game of the year back on April 8. Ortiz surrendered three runs on four hits in three innings with four walks and six strikeouts. Mike Fontenot greeted him with a three-run homer on his first pitch with two outs in the second inning.
Since the Cubs last faced Ortiz, he has made three starts and has not completed more than five innings…but the Astros are a remarkable 4-2 in games Ortiz pitches and are 3-0 in his starts. And this for a team with just 11 wins.
The Cubs must make Ortiz work. He has walked 17 batters in 19 innings with only 14 strikeouts to go along with 17 hits allowed. A lot of early swings and quick at bats are recipes for a loss.
Ortiz is 3-4 in nine career starts, 11 games, against the Cubs with a 5.46 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP. His last start against the Cubs came on April 5, 2005. In the second game of the season Ortiz and the Diamondbacks beat Greg Maddux , 5-4…Chad Fox pitched the ninth inning.
- Milton Bradley – 5-for-14 with a double and 3 walks
- Mike Fontenot – 1-for-2 with a home run
- Kosuke Fukudome – 1-for-1 with a double
- Koyie Hill – 4-for-5
- Reed Johnson – 4-for-4 with 2 doubles
- Derrek Lee – 3-for-32 with a double, a home run and 5 walks
- Aaron Miles – 1-for-3
- Aramis Ramirez – 5-for-15 with 3 double, a home run and 3 walks
- Alfonso Soriano – 1-for-5 with a walk
- Ryan Theriot – 1-for-1 with a walk
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….