Game Ninety-Two: Cubs (37-54) vs. Pirates (46-43)
Game Time – 12:35pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187
Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh
Ramon Ortiz (0-1, 3.00/1.67) vs. Paul Maholm (5-9, 3.08/1.22)
It is the final Sunday before the All-Star break and the Chicago Cubs have their third chance this season to post a series win against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cubs complete the extremely difficult stretch of 38 games in 38 days this afternoon. Q’s squad is just 2-4 on their current seven-game road trip.
If the Cubs can pull off a win this afternoon they will not only spend the break riding a two-game winning streak but they would post their first series win since June 13-June 16 against the Brewers … and their first road series win since May 18-May 19 in Miami (last three-game series win came in LA from May 2-May 4).
Mike Quade said Saturday that Darwin Barney would get a break this afternoon and both Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson will be in the starting lineup. The last time the Cubs faced Paul Maholm, both Baker and Johnson were unable to play … and both have excellent numbers against the Pirates’ southpaw. The Cubs must show a little patience against Paul Maholm this afternoon … or his scoreless innings streak against the Cubs this season will continue.
Mike Quade needs a long outing from Ramon Ortiz. The Cubs’ pen has completed 20 innings of work during the current trip and is spent. Sean Marshall should be available today while Jeff Samardzija should have the afternoon off after completing two innings on Saturday night.
In other news … Matt Szczur will participate in the XM Radio Future’s Game this afternoon at Chase Field in Phoenix … and will be joined by Smokies’ manager, Brian Harper. Szczur was officially promoted to High-A Daytona on Saturday and will report to the D-Cubs when he returns from the Futures Game.
The game will be carried live from Chase Field beginning at 5:00pm CDT on ESPN2. XM Radio has full coverage of the game as well with Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette providing the play-by-play on XM Channel 89.
The Cubs are 2-11 on Sundays this season … and this afternoon it all starts with Ramon Ortiz. After a shaky first inning in which he allowed three runs, two earned, against the Nationals, Ramon Ortiz settled down and threw five innings of shutout ball and gave his new team every chance to beat the Nationals. The Cubs offense, other than Aramis Ramirez, could not do anything against Ross Detwiler and Ortiz was hung with the loss.
Ramon Ortiz had good movement on his fastball last Tuesday night and is pitching to stay in the Cubs rotation and in the big leagues. With Carlos Zambrano penciled into start the third game back from the break, the Cubs figure to keep only one of Lopez-Ortiz in the rotation … and not both.
This afternoon will be Ramon Ortiz’s sixth career start versus the Pirates. Ortiz last big league win came at the Pirates expense last May 1. Ortiz tossed three innings of shutout ball in relief of Carlos Monasterios. The Dodgers won the game5-1.
Ortiz is 2-2 in 10 career appearances, five starts, versus the Bucs with a 4.35 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP … at PNC, 0-2 in four games, two starts, with a 5.25 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP.
Matt Diaz (4-for-5 with a home run and a walk), Andrew McCutchen (0-for-1) and Lyle Overbay (7-for-19 with a double, 2 home runs and a walk) are the only active Pirates that have faced Ramon Ortiz.
Paul Maholm is coming off his fifth win of the season, a solid six-inning start against the Astros. Maholm held Houston to three runs, one earned, on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Maholm has not been blowing anyone away but has been very consistent over his last 10 starts. Maholm has allowed more than two earned runs on three times since May 16 … with one of those starts being a complete game shutout over the Chicago Cubs.
Maholm is 3-2 in his last seven starts with a 2.91 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP.
This afternoon will be Maholm’s third start of the season versus the Cubs … and Quade’s offense did not manage a single run, earned or otherwise, in the first two. Maholm has allowed only eight hits in 15 2/3 innings against the Cubs this season with two walks and seven strikeouts (0.00 ERA and a 0.64 ERA). Maholm tossed a three-hit complete game shutout against the Cubs back on May 28 … the Pirates pounded the Cubs 10-0 and Q’s offense did not force Maholm to work.
This afternoon will be Maholm’s 16th career start against the Cubs … 8-2 in 15 starts with a 5.30 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP.
Cubs Career Numbers against Paul Maholm
- Jeff Baker – 7-for-15 with 4 doubles
- Darwin Barney – 1-for-4
- Tony Campana – 0-for-4
- Starlin Castro – 5-for-15 with 2 doubles
- Blake DeWitt – 1-for-2 with a walk
- Kosuke Fukudome – 0-for-5
- Koyie Hill – 1-for-5
- Reed Johnson – 7-for-11 with 2 doubles and a walk
- Carlos Pena – 0-for-5 with a walk
- Aramis Ramirez – 10-for-35 with 2 doubles, 2 home runs and 2 walks
- Alfonso Soriano – 9-for-34 with 3 doubles, 4 home runs and 4 walks
- Geovany Soto – 7-for-18 with a double, a home run and 2 walks
Follow the CCO on Twitter: @TheCCO
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …