Game Forty-Six: Cubs (23-22) vs. Dodgers (33-15)
Game Time – 7:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WCIU/MLB Network – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Randy Wells (0-1, 1.50/1.11) vs. Randy Wolf (2-1, 3.02/1.12)
The Cubs open a four-game weekend series tonight against the best team in the National League…the Los Angeles Dodgers. Joe Torre’s team has won three in a row and eight of their last 10, currently nine games ahead of the San Diego Padres in the West.
The Dodgers are winning even without the suspended Manny Ramirez. Juan Pierre is one of the biggest reasons. The former Cub is having a career year and is hitting .395 with a .463 OBP and a .532 SLG…well off his career numbers. Pierre has always played well against the Cubs, especially after his one bad year in blue pinstripes back in 2006. In his last 24 games Pierre’s line is unbelievable: .393/.465/.551/1.016 with eight doubles and three triples.
After the Dodgers embarrassed the Cubs last October, Lou Piniella became infatuated with putting a balanced lineup on the field. Piniella said the Dodgers did not use a single left-handed pitcher against his right-handed dominant lineup. With Hiroki Kuroda on the DL, Torre’s rotation consists of four southpaws and one very good right-hander in Chad Billingsley.
The Cubs must play mistake free, fundamental ball this weekend if they want to win their second series in a row…and it all starts with Randy Wells. Randy Wells will make his fourth start of the season tonight against the best offense in the National League. Wells fared well against Brewers and Astros before losing 3-1 to the Padres in his last start. While the Brewers and Astros can score runs with the best of them, Wells will have to put together the best game of his young career tonight in order to earn his first big league win.
Wells has shown the ability to make the big pitch when he has needed it. He must not give the Dodgers’ offense any help with free passes. Wells walked just one in his last outing against the Padres and set a career-high with seven strikeouts…but lost the game because the Cubs were not hitting.
Tonight will be Wells’ second career start at Wrigley…he has yet to give up an earned run at the Friendly Confines (six innings of work, four hits, no runs with three walks and four strikeouts).
Wells has not faced the Dodgers in his six career games with the Cubs.
The Cubs will face a familiar foe tonight in southpaw Randy Wolf. The last time they saw Wolf he was pitching in Milwaukee for the Astros against Carlos Zambrano. The Cubs knocked him out in the third inning after scoring five runs, four earned, on six hits in 2 2/3 innings. Zambrano was pretty good that night…he no hit the Houston Astros. But that was then and Randy Wolf is having a good season for Joe Torre.
While Wolf may only have two wins under his belt this season, the Dodgers are 6-4 in his 10 starts. Wolf is coming off a rough start against the Angels where he allowed four runs on 10 hits in 6 1/3 innings…but in his previous four starts he allowed a total of five earned runs.
Wolf is 1-0 in his last five starts with a 2.59 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP…opponents are hitting just .218 against him. On the road this year, Wolf is 2-1 in five starts with a 2.87 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP.
Randy Wolf has been very successful in the past against the Cubs…and when he is on the Cubs have struggled mightily against him. For his career, Wolf is 3-7 in 15 starts against the Cubs with a 4.71 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP.
The Cubs offense must take advantage of every opportunity tonight against Wolf…because this year there have been only one or two per game.
- Milton Bradley – 1-for-6 with a home run
- Kosuke Fukudome – 0-for-1 with 2 walks
- Reed Johnson – 0-for-6
- Derrek Lee – 10-for-37 with 3 doubles, a triple and 4 walks
- Alfonso Soriano – 4-for-17 with 2 home runs and 2 walks
- Geovany Soto – 3-for-8 with a double and a walk
- Ryan Theriot – 2-for-11 with a walk
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….