Game Seventy-Eight: Cubs (39-38) vs. Brewers (42-38)
Game Time – 12:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 175
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Rich Harden (5-4, 4.57/1.40) vs. Braden Looper (6-4, 4.90/1.40)
Happy 4th of July from the CCO!
Weather permitting … Will Soriano or Fuld his lead off for the Chicago Cubs this afternoon? Following the Cubs walk-off win on Friday, Lou Piniella said the Cubs would be making adjustments to the lineup. Dave Kaplan reported his sources indicated Soriano would be in the lineup, hitting sixth against the Brewers today … possibly with Sam Fuld in the top spot in either center or right field. Milton Bradley has only one hit in eight-career at bats against Braden Looper (a home run) while Kosuke Fukudome is 5-for-16 with a double and a home run … it might be a good time to give Bradley a day off.
The Cubs enter play today two and a half games back of the Cardinals, third place in a very tight NL Central … five teams are within four games of the top spot.
The Cubs are on the verge of several roster moves. Aramis Ramirez and Reed Johnson are expected to be activated on Monday. The Cubs will have to send down two players and the speculation is Mike Fontenot could be one of those players. Kevin Hart appears to be the odd man out when Angel Guzman returns. Andres Blanco has impressed the Cubs with his glove and his bat. Blanco gives the team a legitimate backup at short and has shown more offense than Fontenot of late. Paul Sullivan mentioned during Sports Central Friday night that either Micah Hoffpauir or Sam Fuld could be sent down when Ramirez is activated.
The offense must not help out Braden Looper this afternoon … but it all starts with Rich Harden and one win at a time. Rich Harden is coming off his best outing of the year against the Pirates. Harden allowed one run on a season-high nine hits in seven innings but looked much more like the pitcher the Cubs traded for nearly a year ago. Harden found an early grove and mixed his fastball with his tremendous change up and struck out nine … with only one walk. Harden must limit his free passes again today because the Brewers will hit a few out, the key is to limit them to solo shots.
Harden’s last start was only the second time all season he did not serve up at least one home run (May 1 against the Marlins).
Rich Harden has struggled at Wrigley this year and the last time he posted a win at home was back on May 12 against the Padres. The Cubs offense did not help a couple of times but for the most it has been all Rich Harden. He is 2-3 in seven starts at the Friendly Confines this season with a 6.31 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP.
Today will be Harden’s second start of the year against Milwaukee. He received a no-decision on April 10 in a Cubs 4-3 loss at Miller Park. Harden allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits in six innings with a season-high 10 strikeouts and only two walks.
In three career starts against the Brewers, Harden is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP.
- Ryan Braun – 2-for-9 with a double
- Mike Cameron – 0-for-10 with a walk
- Frank Catalanotto – 1-for-4 with a double and 2 walks
- Craig Counsell – 0-for-4 with a walk
- Prince Fielder – 1-for-7 with a home run and 2 walks
- Jody Gerut – 1-for-8 with a double and 2 walks
- Bill Hall – 1-for-2 with a double
- J.J. Hardy – 0-for-8 with a walk
- Corey Hart – 1-for-4 with a home run
- Jason Kendall – 0-for-6 with a walk
- Braden Looper – 0-for-2
Braden Looper has put together a good first half for the Brewers … that includes a dominating start against the Cubs on April 10. Looper is coming off an impressive win against the Mets in which he gave up three runs, one earned, on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Looper posted a 1-1 record in June (six starts) with a 6.06 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP and his struggled on the road this year to the tune of a 2-3 record in six starts with a 6.67 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP.
The Cubs allowed Jeff Suppan to have a lot of success on Friday and they must make Braden Looper elevate his ball this afternoon … or it will be another frustrating day at the plate. Looper has put together very good numbers against the Cubs despite a losing record (3-6 in nine career starts, 41 games, with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP).
- Andres Blanco – 1-for-1
- Milton Bradley – 1-for-8 with a home run
- Mike Fontenot – 2-for-11 with a walk
- Kosuke Fukudome – 5-for-16 with a double and a home run
- Koyie Hill – 0-for-4 with a walk
- Micah Hoffpauir – 1-for-3 with a double
- Derrek Lee – 7-for-26 with a double, a home run and 2 walks
- Alfonso Soriano – 3-for-17
- Geovany Soto – 4-for-10 with a double, a home run and 2 walks
- Ryan Theriot – 6-for-21 with a double and 2 walks
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….