Game Seventy-Three: Cubs (35-37) vs. Pirates (35-40)
Game Time – 6:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WCIU – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183
Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh
Rich Harden (4-4, 4.95/1.40) vs. Zach Duke (8-5, 3.09/1.19)
The Cubs difficult 10-game road trip comes to an end on Wednesday night. After dropping six of their first seven, Lou Piniella’s crew must put together a good series in Pittsburgh. The Cubs enter play today in fourth place in the Central but with the same amount of wins as the Pirates. The Cubs hit a low mark for the year at two games under .500 after they did not show up to the South Side on Sunday … and if they are not careful could limp home Wednesday night in last place in the division.
The Cubs will face a very young and improving Pirates team that always plays their better games of the season against the Cubs. The Pirates are 21-14 at PNC Park this season (Cubs are 21-13 at Wrigley) and the Cubs are a pathetic 14-24 on the road. The Pirates won four straight before Sunday’s loss to the Royals and are playing with much more confidence than the Cubs right now. This is not the same Pirates team the Cubs have faced in recent years and no one on the Cubs should take this series for granted.
Angel Guzman will have one more bullpen session before going on a rehab assignment later in the week with the Peoria Chiefs. Guzman’s absence has created a huge hole in the bullpen.
Jake Fox is expected to start at third tonight with the other slots filled by the usual suspects. It is past time for this roster to start playing as a team and start winning on a consistent basis. Just one win at a time is all it takes … and tonight it starts with Rich Harden. Rich Harden, like the rest of the Cubs, has been inconsistent at best this season. Since coming off the DL on June 13, Harden has put together only one good outing (0-2 in three starts with a 5.51 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP) and has given up a ton of home runs. In 11 starts (60 innings) Harden has served up 13 long balls and his strikeout to walk ratio is very concerning.
Harden has walked 30 batters and struck out only 67. The nearly 2:1 ratio is one of the many reasons Harden has not performed the way he did last season for the Cubs.
The Tigers beat Harden in his last start. Harden surrendered four runs, two earned, on four hits in 5 1/3 innings with four walks and three strikeouts … two of the four scored after an error by Geovany Soto and after Harden left the game.
Harden is 2-1 in four road starts this season with a 2.96 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP.
Tonight will be Harden’s first start of the year against the Bucs … and the first of his career.
- Eric Hinske – 4-for-14 with 2 home runs and 2 walks
- Craig Monroe – 1-for-3
- Brandon Moss – 0-for-2
The Cubs will face another difficulty lefty tonight in Zach Duke … and one that has dominated the Cubs when they actually scored runs. There is no two ways about it … the Cubs will have a very difficult time plating runs tonight against Zach Duke.
Zach Duke has been excellent of late and since May 6 he has allowed more than four earned runs three times … and he has been lights out at home this season, 6-2 in eight games with a complete game shutout, a 2.64 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP.
The Cubs won the game Duke started against them in May. Duke received a no-decision in the 5-2 loss to the Cubs … Duke surrendered just two runs on eight hits in seven innings with two walks and three strikeouts.
Duke is 4-5 in 14 career starts against the Cubs (with a complete game shutout) with a 3.03 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. The Cubs have hit .292 against him but have plated just 31 earned runs in 14 starts (92 innings).
- Andres Blanco – 0-for-3
- Milton Bradley – 3-for-7 with 2 doubles, a triple and a walk
- Mike Fontenot – 1-for-1
- Ryan Freel – 4-for-10
- Kosuke Fukudome – 1-for-6
- Micah Hoffpauir – 0-for-1
- Derrek Lee – 10-for-37 with 2 doubles, a home run and 3 walks
- Aaron Miles – 5-for-13 with a walk
- Alfonso Soriano – 15-for-29 with 4 doubles, 2 home runs and 2 walks
- Geovany Soto – 3-for-15 with a double and 2 walks
- Ryan Theriot – 11-for-28 with 3 doubles and 2 walks
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….