Game One Hundred-Fourteen: Cubs (58-55) vs. Pirates (46-68)
Game Time – 1:20pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Randy Wells (8-5, 3.01/1.18) vs. Charlie Morton (2-5, 3.81/1.43)
The Cubs are going in the wrong direction. Lou Piniella’s crew has lost five in a row and six of their last seven. They enter play this afternoon 4 1/2 games back in the central, just a half game off their season-low mark of five games back.
The Cubs will face a very different Pirates team than the one they last saw in Pittsburgh at the end of June (June 29 – July 1). Charlie Morton was acquired in the Nate McLouth deal with the Braves, Freddy Sanchez is now in San Francisco while Jack Wilson is patrolling shortstop in one of Lou Piniella’s former stomping grounds.
Ronny Cedeno will be back at Wrigley this afternoon facing his old club for the first time. Cedeno has been very, very good for the Pirates since he was included in the deal that sent Jack Wilson to the Seattle Mariners. Cedeno is hitting .310 with a .341 OBP this month with two home runs … for the year, just .194 with a .237 OBP.
The Cubs must get into the Pirates pen as often as possible this weekend. While Zach Duke, Ross Ohlendorf and Paul Maholm continue to pitch well in the Bucs rotation, this team’s biggest weakness right now is their bullpen … they have enough offensively to put up runs. The Cubs will miss Kevin Hart this weekend but should face Jose Ascanio a couple of times.
When Justin Berg made his debut with the Cubs on Friday he became the ninth rookie pitcher used by Lou Piniella this season … the most for the organization since 1962.
Aramis Ramirez is expected back in the lineup this afternoon against his former team. The Cubs recent play has proven how much this team needs Aramis Ramirez in order to win games. Ramirez recently found out from team doctors that off-season surgery to repair his left shoulder will “probably will not be needed” according to Bruce Levine.
The Cubs offense must relax this afternoon and remember how to hit the ball and put crooked numbers on the old scoreboard. While the offense must do their job, it all begins with Randy Wells … and one run and one win at a time. Can Randy Wells bounce back from his worst start at the big league level? In order for the Cubs to end their five-game losing streak Randy Wells must put his last outing in the rearview mirror. Wells did not seem to settle in on the mound in Colorado and struggled with his command in the thin air. Wells has been the model of consistency for the Cubs this season but with his innings mounting, his next few games figure to be very important for him and his team.
Lou Piniella has stated repeatedly he would like to back Wells down a little. With Ted Lilly and Carlos Zambrano expected back next week, Wells’ pitch counts could be limited then. But with the bullpen spent, the Cubs need a good, long, effective out of Randy Wells this afternoon.
Wells is 4-3 in eight starts at Wrigley this season with a 3.04 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. This afternoon will be his second career start against the Pirates. Wells beat a very different Bucs’ teams in Pittsburgh back on July 1. He limited the Pirates to one run on six hits in seven innings with a walk and four strikeouts.
It is very important for Wells to set the tone for the game early on. A lot of first pitch strikes and quick innings will be the recipe for a win. If the young Pirates are able to gain confidence in the first few innings it could be another long day for the Cubs’ pen. Keep an eye on Garrett Jones throughout the weekend …
- Jason Jaramillo – 2-for-3
- Garrett Jones – 0-for-3
- Andrew McCutchen – 2-for-3 with a double
- Brandon Moss – 1-for-3
The Cubs will face Charlie Morton for the second time this afternoon. Morton started against the Cubs on August 13, 2008 in Atlanta. The Cubs’ offense knocked him out in the third inning after four runs on four hits with four walks and three strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings. Morton has shown a lot of improvement this season, especially for the Pirates, and it will be up to the Cubs to make him work once again this afternoon.
Morton is coming off a loss to the Cardinals but he allowed only one run on seven hits in five innings with two walks and three strikeouts. He has not posted a win since July 18 but his numbers are better than his record.
If the Cubs go to the plate swinging, they will lose their sixth in a row.
The 25-year old right-hander is 1-2 in six road starts this season with a 4.39 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP … and in his last two outings, 0-2 with a 4.09 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP.
- Kosuke Fukudome – 0-for-2
- Derrek Lee – 1-for-2
- Aaron Miles – 0-for-3
- Aramis Ramirez – 1-for-2
- Alfonso Soriano – 0-for-2
- Geovany Soto – 1-for-1 with a double
- Ryan Theriot – no official at bats – one walk
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….