Game Fifty-Three: Cubs (24-28) vs. Pirates (21-31)
Game Time – 6:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183
Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh
Ted Lilly (1-4, 3.63/1.16) vs. Jeff Karstens (1-1, 4.78/1.50)
Can the Chicago Cubs get back on track tonight against the Pirates? Lou Piniella’s crew has lost two in a row and three of their last four … and has dropped six of seven to the Pirates this season. The Cubs are not hitting when runners in scoring position and simply are not scoring runs. The last three wins for the Cubs have been shutouts.
It is past the point where Lou Piniella must do something. The Cubs are entering the third month of the season and there appears to be no end in sight for the horrible starts of Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. The Cubs need Lee’s defense. He should be dropped down in the lineup but Ramirez, well …
Following Monday’s loss, Piniella indicated Lee would be out of the lineup tonight with Xavier Nady filling in at first base. The other moves must start with Tyler Colvin and end with Starlin Castro back in the second spot of the lineup. Bottom line is Colvin and Castro injects some much-needed energy into this old lineup.
The umpires should be keeping an eye on Ted Lilly tonight. Casey Blake, the Dodgers and replays showed Lilly was not pitching from the rubber in his last start … which is against the rules. Lilly should be under the microscope, how he responds will set the tone for his team.
It is June 1. The Cubs were 13-15 in May and enter play tonight four games under .500, six games back of the Cardinals and Reds in the division. Lou Piniella’s crew cannot change the first two months and they must begin playing better, more consistent ball tonight. The Cubs play only one team this month with a record over .500 (Oakland A’s, June 15 – June 19 at Wrigley). If they want to play meaningful games in July and August, a winning month that results in leaving the mediocre mark in their rearview mirror is a must.
The Pirates have been a thorn in the Cubs’ side all season. Counting tonight they have only two games remaining in Pittsburgh this year. The Cubs have dropped four in a row in the Steel City for the first time since 1996 and it is time for the Cubs to remember how to beat the Battlin’ Bucs. The Pirates have a young, exciting team but one that is 15-30 against the rest of baseball … and 6-1 versus the Cubs.
On Carlos Zambrano’s 29th birthday it all starts with Ted Lilly … and just winning a ballgame. Ted Lilly is coming off his best outing of the year, with a little bit of controversy. Lilly threw seven innings of shutout ball against the Dodgers and allowed just three hits and three walks. Lilly is not all the way back from off-season shoulder surgery. His velocity is still off but Lilly has been effective for the most part.
After bad outings against the Pirates (May 5) and Marlins (May 10), Lilly has allowed five runs in his last three starts on 15 hits (2.18 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP).
Lilly will make his third start of the season versus the Pirates tonight. He is 0-1 with a 4.85 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. The Pirates are hitting .294 against Lilly this year.
Tonight will be Lilly’s 13th career start against the Pirates. ‘The Bulldog’ is 4-3 in his first 14 games, 12 starts, versus Pittsburgh with a 4.38 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP … at PNC, 3-2 in eight career starts with a 4.66 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP.
Pirates Career Numbers against Ted Lilly
- Ronny Cedeno – 2-for-8 with a walk
- Ryan Church – 1-for-9 with a home run
- Bobby Crosby – 7-for-21 with 4 doubles and a walk
- Ryan Doumit – 6-for-21 with 2 doubles and a walk
- Jason Jaramillo – 1-for-3 with a double
- Garrett Jones – 2-for-8 with a double and a walk
- Jeff Karstens – 0-for-1
- Andy LaRoche – 3-for-18 with a double, a home run and 3 walks
- Andrew McCutchen – 3-for-15 with a double and 2 walks
- Lastings Milledge – 4-for-14 with a double and a walk
- Steve Pearce – 4-for-12 with a double and a walk
- Delwyn Young – 0-for-5 with a walk
Jeff Karstens will make his fourth start of the season tonight. Karstens is 1-1 as a starter this year with a 4.08 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP … as a reliever, Karstens does not have a record in six appearances out of the pen (5.65 ERA with a 1.47 WHIP).
Karstens last started on May 8 against the Cardinals. He threw six innings of shutout ball and allowed just three hits.
Jeff Karstens has done a good job at home this year. He is 1-0 in four games, one start, with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. Karstens throws strikes but can lose the strike zone from time-to-time. The Cubs must be patient and make him work … something the offense has stopped doing this year.
Tonight will be Karstens’ fourth career start against the Cubs … 2-1 in four games, three starts, with a 5.06 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP.
Cubs Career Numbers against Jeff Karstens
- Jeff Baker – 1-for-3 with a double
- Mike Fontenot – 2-for-5 with a walk
- Kosuke Fukudome – 0-for-4 with a walk
- Koyie Hill – 1-for-3
- Derrek Lee – 3-for-7 with a walk
- Ted Lilly – 0-for-1
- Aramis Ramirez – 3-for-5 with a home run
- Alfonso Soriano – 3-for-5
- Geovany Soto – 0-for-4
- Ryan Theriot – 0-for-3 with a walk
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …