Game Forty-One: Cubs (21-19) vs. Padres (20-22)
Game Time – 9:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183
Location – PETCO Park, San Diego
Randy Wells (0-0, 0.00/1.27) vs. Josh Geer (0-1, 5.61/1.31)
The Cubs are reeling and will turn to Randy Wells to end their season long five-game losing streak tonight…no pressure on the rookie whatsoever. The Cubs will need Wells to keep them close as they try to figure out how to string together a few hits against Padres’ rookie Josh Geer.
Rich Harden was slated to make tonight’s start but was placed on the 15-day DL on Friday with a mild strain in his back just above his oblique. Jim Hendry told Bruce Levine on Saturday morning that Harden “tweaked it a little” against Houston and it was not any better in his side session in St. Louis. The Cubs felt like this was the right time to shut him down for a start or two and make sure the “tweak” does not become something more. The Cubs were afraid that if it worsened he could end up spending nearly six weeks on the DL like Chris Carpenter did.
The move of Rich Harden to the DL allowed David Patton to remain with the Cubs…a move that is becoming more and more questionable on a daily basis. Patton has not pitched since May 9 (fourteen days) and has warmed up only once over that time. So Lou Piniella basically has an 11-man pitching staff and is playing with a 24-man roster. What are they protecting Patton for? Granted they will lose the Rule 5 Draft pick but a team that is struggling the way the Cubs are cannot afford the luxury of hiding a pitcher that they feel has a bright future. Patton’s spot would be better used on a position player that could help the struggling offense…after all Piniella has been playing with an 11-man staff for two weeks.
Jim Hendry joined Bruce Levine during Talkin’ Baseball on Saturday morning. The Cubs GM did not reveal any future plans with roster moves but said they have to put the injuries into perspective and not use them as excuses. Hendry added with Aramis Ramirez out for as long as he is they cannot use it for an excuse to lose games and they must keep grinding.
The Cubs have five to six guys that are not producing that are proven Major League hitters. Hendry said they are not “old guys” or “declining” and they will eventually hit and put up the numbers like on the back of their baseball cards.
Hendry is not looking at Gerald Perry as being the problem with the offense. Hendry said, “All of these guys have hit and are just going through hard times. Guys have to perform. He knows the coaching staff is killing themselves right now to do everything they can.”
It is a new day and hopefully the Cubs will be able to put a couple of crooked numbers on the board tonight…and put an end to two streaks the Cubs five straight defeats and the Padres seven-game winning streak. Randy Wells has been ‘questionably good‘ for the Cubs in his first two big league starts. While Wells has yet to allow an earned run at the big league level (16 1/3 innings in six games, two starts…this season 11 scoreless in two starts) he has put a lot of runners on base (14 in 11 innings). Wells has gotten the out that he has needed every time and has yet to appear rattled on the mound. His team needs him to step up tonight and earn his first Major League victory…and more importantly, end the team’s five-game losing streak.
The Cubs are 1-1 in Wells’ two outings and right-handed hitters (.259) have quite a bit more success, in a small sample size, than lefties (.167).
Tonight will be Randy Wells’ first career outing against the Padres and no one on their roster has faced him in his brief big league career.
The Cubs will face the Padres’ 13th best prospect according to Baseball America for the first time tonight. Josh Geer will be making the eleventh start of his Major League career and sixth of the season. Geer was impressive in five starts for the Padres last season. The righty posted a 2-1 record with a 2.67 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP.
Baseball America described Geer’s stuff as above average despite the lack of velocity. Geer has “pinpoint control of a three-pitch mix, headlined by a sneaky two-seam fastball that he spots at will. He sits at 86-88 mph with good sink and keeps batters off balance with a plus changeup.” Baseball America said Geer depends on his command due to the fact he does not have an overwhelming fastball.
The Cubs must make him work early on and not allow him to get quick outs. The offense showed a lot more patience against Jake Peavy on Friday night than they did in St. Louis…and Geer is the kind of pitcher that usually gives Lou Piniella’s offense a lot of trouble.
Geer has not been impressive so far this season…after a good end of 2008. Geer has allowed four or more runs in four of his five starts and is coming off a no decision against the Reds last Saturday night. Geer made it into the sixth inning (5 2/3 innings) but allowed five runs on five hits with two walks, two strikeouts and two home runs.
Tonight will be Josh Geer’s first career game against the Cubs and like his counterpart, no one on the Cubs’ roster has faced him in his young career.
Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Theriot must be patient tonight and set the table for the struggling offense. Theriot has not been the same since the column in the Sun-Times questioned his recent power surge. With Soriano doing a lot of swinging, missing and ‘tipping‘ right now, Theriot has to be the Cubs’ second leadoff hitter and get on base. Theriot has not worked a walk since May 14 and is swinging early and often in the count…like Soriano (2-for-17 with nine strikeouts), Theriot has just two hits on the road trip (2-for-16)
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball…