Game Four: Cubs (2-1) vs. Braves (2-1)
- Game Time – 6:30pm CDT
- Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet Plus – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channels 89/844
- Location – Turner Field, Atlanta
Scott Feldman (0-0, -.–/-.–) vs. Mike Minor (0-0, -.–/-.–)
The Cubs open a three-game series tonight in Atlanta. The Cubs played good ball over the three games in Pittsburgh but will face a much tougher team over this weekend. Most feel the Braves will make it to the post-season, either as a division champ or a wild card. The Braves have a much different team from a year ago. Chipper Jones retired. Martin Prado is now wearing a D-Backs uniform while there are not one, but two Uptons in the Braves’ outfield. With Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton and Justin Upton (right-to-left) in the Braves outfield, some think Atlanta might have the best trio in the game patrolling their outfield.
After tonight’s match-up of Scott Feldman and Mike Minor, Carlos Villanueva faces Julio Teheran on Saturday night while Jeff Samardzija is scheduled to take on Tim Hudson in the finale on Sunday afternoon. The Cubs better be ready to put some runs on the board. This Braves team can hit and score runs in bunches … but there are a lot of swings and misses as well.
Dale Sveum should run out a lineup tonight similar to the one that faced Wandy Rodriguez. Look for Dave Sappelt in center, Scott Hairston in right, Brent Lillibridge at third and Alberto Gonzalez at second. While Alfonso Soriano’s numbers against Mike Minor are rather pedestrian, Soriano loves hitting at Turner Field (.293/.341/.586/.927 with eight doubles and eight home runs in 28 games). Maybe the combination of warmer weather and Braves pitching will get Alfonso Soriano going.
The Cubs have traditionally struggled against the Braves but were 4-3 in the seven games with Atlanta last season.
The Cubs begin a stretch tonight of playing 19 straight games against teams that had a .500 or better record last season … and 13 of those games will be against teams that made the playoffs last year. Over the next month, the Cubs play the Braves, Brewers, Giants, Rangers and Reds.
Can the Cubs post a win for the third time in four games?
Scott Feldman makes his Cubs and National League debut tonight. Feldman is coming off a horrible spring (0-3 in six starts with a 11.25 ERA and a 2.20 WHIP) and while spring numbers do not matter, one has to wonder if Feldman has hit the proverbial reset button.
Feldman is coming off a 6-11 season with the Rangers in which he posted a 5.09 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP in 29 games, 21 starts. Feldman was looking to sign a one-year contract in the off-season so he could prove to the league that he could still be an effective starter. Feldman is hoping to turn this one-year contract with the Cubs into a long-term commitment from either the Cubs or one of the other 29 big league clubs. Feldman is three full seasons removed from the only year in his Major League career in which he posted a winning record (17-8 in 34 games, 31 starts) and a career high in strikeouts (113).
Scott Feldman has faced the Braves once in his career. Feldman received a no decision against Atlanta back on June 19, 2008. Feldman allowed two runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts in seven innings. Feldman will make his first appearance at Turner Field tonight.
Braves Career Numbers against Scott Feldman
- Gerald Laird – 0-for-4
- B.J. Upton – 1-for-10 with three walks
- Justin Upton – 2-for-5 with a double and a walk
The Cubs will face a very good young southpaw in Mike Minor tonight. Minor is coming off a solid first full season in the Braves’ rotation. The Vanderbilt product posted an 11-10 record in 30 starts with a 4.12 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP last year. Minor showed a lot of improvement over the course of the season. In his last 14 starts, Minor was 6-4 with a 2.16 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP.
Mike Minor likes pitching against the Cubs and in his home ballpark. Minor was 7-4 in 16 starts at Turner Field last season with a 3.25 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP … and he has never lost to the Cubs.
Minor makes his fifth career start against the Cubs tonight. Minor is a perfect 4-0 in the first four with a 4.30 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP … last season, 1-0 in one start with a 2.84 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP.
Cubs Career Numbers against Mike Minor
- Starlin Castro – 3-for-12 with a double
- David DeJesus – 1-for-3
- Alberto Gonzalez – 0-for-4 with a walk
- Scott Hairston – 2-for-9
- Anthony Rizzo – 1-for-3
- Nate Schierholtz – 3-for-6
- Alfonso Soriano – 2-for-10 with a home run and a walk
- Luis Valbuena – 0-for-2
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …