Game Thirty-Seven: Cubs (21-15) vs. Cardinals (21-17)
Game Time – 7:15pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 188
Location – Busch Stadium, St. Louis
Ted Lilly (5-2, 3.27/1.05) vs. Joel Pineiro (4-3, 4.17/1.39)
After a successful homestand and day off, Lou Piniella’s crew gets back to work tonight in a very important series. The Cubs enter play two games behind the red-hot Milwaukee Brewers and a game ahead of the Cardinals in the Central. The Cubs have split the first six of the year against St. Louis and won one of the three games the last time they were in St. Louis (April 24 – April 26).
The Cardinals are struggling right now. They were just swept by the Brewers at home and scored only six runs on 18 hits in the three game series. Tony LaRussa and company will be without Ryan Ludwick for the series and Rick Ankiel is expected back on Wednesday, both are on the DL, but will receive a boost with the return of Chris Carpenter on Wednesday. The Cubs offense will see two of the Cardinals’ best starters on Wednesday and Thursday…which makes tonight’s game that much more important. As Piniella stressed last season, it is key to win the first game of a series.
The Cubs will not return to St. Louis after Thursday until September and play just seven more games against the Cardinals this season after this series.
Tonight begins a stretch of 13 in a row that concludes on May 31 at Wrigley against the Dodgers…and it all starts with Ted Lilly. Ted Lilly has been very consistent this season for Lou Piniella and the Cubs are 5-2 in his seven starts. Lilly is coming off a win against the Padres at Wrigley…three runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. Lilly’s command has been key this so far this season. In 44 innings Lilly has issued only nine walks and his strikeout to walk ratio (38 strikeouts to nine walks) is by far the best on the Cubs’ staff.
Lilly is 3-0 so far this month with a 2.66 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP and will be shooting for his fourth consecutive win tonight. Lilly has struggled on the road in three starts this year. He is 2-1 with a robust 6.75 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP.
The Cubs and Ted Lilly are in a difficult spot. The Cardinals will run out their top two pitchers during the series and will look to prove the three-game sweep at the hands of the Brewers was a fluke.
Lilly is 6-2 in 11 career starts against the Redbirds with a 2.99 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP…last season, 3-0 in five starts with a 3.06 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP.
- Brian Barden – 0-for-2
- Chris Duncan – 2-for-6
- Khalil Greene – 1-for-10
- Yadier Molina – 4-for-23 with a home run and 2 walks
- Albert Pujols – 9-for-28 with 2 doubles, 2 home runs and 5 walks
- Brendan Ryan – 4-for-17 with a walk
- Skip Schumaker – 1-for-12
After a tremendous start to the season (4-0 in four starts with a 3.76 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP in April), Joel Pineiro has come back down to earth a little and has not posted a win in the month of May (0-3 with a 4.74 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP). Pineiro has been hit rather hard all year (56 hits in 45 1/3 innings) but does not issue a lot of walks (7) and always keeps the ball down (only two home runs allowed).
Like most, Pineiro has been much better at home (2-0 in two starts with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP) than on the road (2-3 in five starts with a 4.99 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP). The Cubs must make him get the ball up tonight and resist the urge to swing at his pitch….which they have struggled with to some extent in the past.
Pineiro is 2-3 in five career starts against the Cubs with a 5.28 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP while the Cubs have hit .304 against him….last year, 0-1 in one start with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP.
- Milton Bradley – 4-for-13 with 3 doubles and 3 walks
- Mike Fontenot – 0-for-1
- Kosuke Fukudome – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Reed Johnson – 4-for-12 with a double and a home run
- Derrek Lee – 6-for-10 with 3 doubles and a home run
- Alfonso Soriano – 15-for-45 with 4 doubles, 3 home runs and 2 walks
- Geovany Soto – 1-for-2 with a walk
- Ryan Theriot – 3-for-11 with 2 doubles
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….