Game Fifty-Eight: Cubs (29-28) vs. Twins (30-32)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Randy Wells (0-2, 1.86/1.01) vs. Kevin Slowey (8-2, 4.21/1.43)
After a disappointing end to the road trip and their fifth extra inning game in 10 days, the Cubs will get back to work today at Wrigley with the first of fifteen in a row against American League teams … the Cubs are one of two teams that has yet to face the other league.
Under Lou Piniella, the Cubs posted an 8-4 record in Interleague play in 2007 but last year they were 6-9 without Alfonso Soriano. Soriano missed all of the games against the Junior Circuit while Carlos Zambrano was on the shelf for the last half.
The Twins are 2-7 in nine games at Wrigley and were swept in a three-game series in Chicago the last time they made the trip to the North Side in 2001. The Twins won all three games the last time the two teams faced off in Interleague play at the Metrodome back in 2006.
The Twins are expected to activate Nick Punto today. Punto has been on the DL with a groin strain since May 20.
The Cubs must start hitting the ball, which they do better at Wrigley. Alfonso Soriano is in the biggest slump of his career and is hitting just .182 with a .289 OBP in his last seven games after posting a .216 average and a .261 OBP in 26 games in May … Soriano has hit only seven home runs in his last 33 games after knocking seven in his first 21 of the year. Soriano is not the only problem but considering he gets the most at bats of any other player, the Cubs seem to go as he goes … and right now they are not scoring enough runs to win games.
As usual, it all starts with Randy Wells … but the offense has to do their part. Randy Wells has done everything his team has asked him to do in his first six big league starts … and today it is time for them to reward him with his first win. Randy Wells has been one of the bright spots for the Cubs over the first 58 games and could easily be 5-1 on the year, if not 6-0.
The Cubs bullpen wasted another one of Wells’ starts and despite giving up just two runs to the Reds last Sunday, he picked up another no-decision.
Wells is 0-1 in two starts at Wrigley with a 1.38 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. He will have to be at the top of his game once again this afternoon. The Twins score a lot of runs for Kevin Slowey.
Today will be Wells’ first career appearance against the Minnesota Twins.
Kevin Slowey is among the league leaders in wins and the main reason is the Twins’ offense supports their right-hander. The Twins average 7.8 runs in games Slowey starts (fourth-best in the big leagues) and Slowey is 8-0 when he receives more than two runs from his offense.
Slowey is coming off one of his worst start of the season. The Mariners scored four runs on 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings and the Twins lost 4-2. Slowey served up three home runs and walked two.
The Twins right-hander throws a lot of strikes and has walked only nine batters in 72 2/3 innings this season. The Cubs must pick their spots and patience early on could pay dividends in the middle innings. With Joe Nathan at the backend of the Twins’ pen, the Cubs offense will have only eight innings to get a lead … and keep it.
Slowey is 1-2 in four road starts this season with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP while teams have hit .323 against him.
This afternoon will be Kevin Slowey’s first career appearance against the Chicago Cubs … and no one on Lou Piniella’s roster has faced Slowey in his first three big league seasons.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….