Game Ninety-Four: Cubs (42-51) vs. Astros (37-55)
Game Time – 7:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WCIU – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Carlos Silva (9-3, 3.45/1.14) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (6-11, 4.97/1.52)
Can Lou Piniella’s crew build on the series win versus the Phillies? The Cubs enter play tonight nine games under .500 in need of wins. While the players, and management, keep saying all of the right things, they must hit and pass the mediocre mark … and that starts with beating teams below them in the standings.
The Astros are not a good team, and while they have shown improvement, neither are the Cubs. The Cubs pointed to the run the White Sox made before the break, but the team on the South Side beat the teams they should have … something the Cubs have not done this season.
The Cubs are hoping the long break did Carlos Silva some good. Silva has not pitched since the Sunday before the All-Star break and the eight days should have given Silva’s calf time to heal. Silva talked his way to the mound against the Dodgers but quickly looked disinterested after the first inning. Due to his daughter’s illness, Silva left the park shortly after he was ejected and spent time with his family.
Lou Piniella’s crew has struggled against the Astros this season (2-4 in six games) and will be able to point to their pathetic performances versus the Astros and Pirates as the reason for another lost season in 2010. The Astros will be without Geoff Blum for this series and possibly the one next week in Houston. Blum was placed on the 15-day DL on July 3 after undergoing right elbow surgery. Blum was expected to miss 2-4 weeks.
Jeff Bagwell is back in the Astros’ dugout … he took over as Houston’s hitting coach after the All-Star Break.
From the Rumor Mill
Add the Yankees to the list of teams interested in Ted Lilly. With the recent injury to Andy Pettitte, the Yankees will be looking to trade for Lilly. Levine added that four to six teams are constantly calling Jim Hendry about Lilly. The Mets, Dodgers, Twins and Tigers have had rumored interest for weeks. Levine also feels the Red Sox and Rays could get into the bidding for Lilly to keep him from going to the Bronx.
The Tigers and Rockies are still interested in Ryan Theriot. Both teams would like to add Theriot but not as a starter but as a bench/role player. The Tigers and Rockies think Theriot could come in off the bench and play a little second, short and even pinch run. Levine added that both organizations feel Theriot could add some spark late in games.
Jim Hendry has talked about more of the kids coming up this year. Levine has heard the names of Jay Jackson, Casey Coleman, Brett Jackson and Robinson Chirinos as possibilities. Levine added that Brett Jackson and Chirinos are probably a year away.
Carlos Zambrano Update
Carlos Zambrano is scheduled to throw a simulated game today in Mesa. Zambrano will leave the Cubs’ facilities and join Ryne Sandberg’s team in Iowa. Zambrano is scheduled to throw either Tuesday or Wednesday according to most reports … but could wait until Thursday for his first appearance at Triple-A.
Jim Hendry said there was no timetable for Z’s return to the Cubs … but the feeling is Z will return at some point during the Rockies series in Colorado (July 30 – August 1).
Tonight it all starts with Carlos Silva … and just winning a ballgame. Carlos Silva finished his tremendous first half with a dud against the Dodgers. Reports suggested Silva might not make his last start versus the Dodgers due to his lingering calf injury but he talked his way on the field … and was horrible.
Silva was not long for the game after giving up three runs in the first inning. The Cubs’ defense was horrible; they did not get any calls and Silva got himself kicked out after arguing a close call at first base. Silva allowed a season-high (or low) six runs on six hits in 1 1/3 innings with three walks and two strikeouts. Silva’s outing versus the Dodgers was by far his shortest of the season … and marked the first time since May 23 he did not complete at least six innings of work.
The Cubs pushed Silva back in order to give him as much rest as possible. If Silva struggles early, do not be surprised to see Mitch Atkins … who is still on the active big league roster.
Carlos Silva will face the Astros tonight for the second time this season. He tossed seven innings against Houston back on April 16 in route to his first win as a Cub. Silva allowed two runs, both unearned, on five hits without a walk and five strikeouts.
Silva is 2-0 in seven career games, two starts, against the Astros with a 3.12 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.
Astros Career Numbers against Carlos Silva
- Lance Berkman – 2-for-4 with 2 home runs and a walk
- Michael Bourn – 0-for-4
- Pedro Feliz – 2-for-6 with a double
- Jeff Keppinger – 0-for-3
- Carlos Lee – 9-for-30 with 2 doubles and a walk
- Jason Michaels – 2-for-10 with a double
- Hunter Pence – 0-for-3
- Humberto Quintero – 1-for-3
- Wandy Rodriguez – 1-for-2
Wandy Rodriguez has had another up and down season. One outing, great … the next outing, horrible. Unfortunately for the Cubs, Rodriguez has been lights out of late. Dating back to June 24, Rodriguez has allowed more than one earned run once in four starts … 1-1 in last two starts with a 2.77 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP.
Rodriguez is coming off a loss to the Cardinals but was out pitched by Blake Hawksworth. Albert Pujols and company managed only three runs on four hits in six innings off Rodriguez in a 4-2 win.
The road has not been too kind to Rodriguez this season. He is 2-6 in nine starts outside of the Juice Box with a 5.79 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP.
The Astros won his only start versus the Cubs this season back on April 18. Rodriguez received a no decision but allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings.
The Cubs have really struggled over the past two seasons when they’ve faced Rodriguez (no record in three starts in 2009 with a 1.35 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP; 1-0 in two starts in 2008 with a 5.40 ERA and a 1.71 WHIP). The Astros’ southpaw is 4-4 in 14 career starts versus the Cubs with a 3.74 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP.
Cubs Career Numbers against Wandy Rodriguez
- Jeff Baker – 2-for-5 with a double and a walk
- Marlon Byrd – 4-for-16 with 2 doubles and a walk
- Mike Fontenot – 0-for-5
- Kosuke Fukudome – 1-for-6
- Derrek Lee – 14-for-32 with 3 doubles, 3 home runs and 7 walks
- Xavier Nady – 2-for-13 with a home run and a walk
- Aramis Ramirez – 8-for-32 with a double and a walk
- Carlos Silva – 1-for-3
- Alfonso Soriano – 1-for-20 with 3 walks
- Geovany Soto – 4-for-11 with a home run and a walk
- Ryan Theriot – 10-for-27 with 4 doubles, a home run and 2 walks
Ryan Theriot and Randy Wells are hosting a benefit for the Children’s Memorial Hospital on Wednesday, August 4 at Joe’s Bar. The CCO was asked to pass along the info on the event. For those interested, click on this link to Ticketmaster.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …